What is acne vulgaris?
Acne is a very common skin disorder and medically it goes by the name Acne Vulgaris. The disorder affects more than 80% of adolescents and young teenagers. Acne can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the face. Acne is most common in teenagers in the 2nd decade of life.
In layman's terminology, acne also goes by the terms blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or zits. Besides the face, Acne may occur on the arms, chest and back. Almost all teenagers in North America go through some type of acne during their teenage years. Most individuals improve after the 2nd decade of life but some unfortunate individuals continue to suffer from severe acne. Women tend to get Acne just before the onset of the menstrual cycle.
Even though acne is not a health hazard, it can have a devastating affect on one's social interactions. It can lead to depression, embarrassment and isolation.
Today, there are some excellent drugs which can help treat most forms of Acne
Falsehoods about Acne
- Acne is due to environmental dirt or pollutant
- Acne is not related to stress or foods
- Acne does not require medical treatment
- Acne can be treated with herbs and nutrients
- Acne is best treated with expensive soaps and creams
Causes of Acne
Why acne occurs is poorly understood. The skin disorder does run in families but the genetic inheritance is not understood. Acne does get worse during periods of physical and emotional stress. Hot and spicy foods have also been linked to Acne. There has been a lot of speculation about chocolates and acne- some claim there is no relationship between the two but the chocolate consumers claim otherwise.
Acne is always worsened in the presence of the male hormones. These hormones are present in both males and females, but in a much higher concentration in males. The male hormones can cause enlargement of the sweat glands on the skin and cause these same glands to increase the production of oil. This increased oil secretion then causes the pores to plug up and lead to acne. In all males, there is a surge of the male hormones at puberty and this is the time when most males show the development of facial acne.
Estrogen, the female sex hormone, on the other hand helps to improve the acne. This is the major reason why during the menstrual cycle the acne is variable. This is one of the reasons why most women who take the birth control pill, almost never develop acne. In fact, some dermatologist will even prescribe oral contraceptives for a short period for the treatment of acne.