Acne is an outcome of several factors such as hormones, skin oils, and bacteria causing the inflammation of skin pores and usually appears on areas of the face, temple, shoulders, upper arm, back, and chest. While it affects mostly teenagers, people of all ages can still be affected including adults and in some cases infants. Acne results when a dried sebum (an oily substance secreted by sebaceous gland), dead skin cells, and bacteria clog the hair follicles then blocking the sebum to exit the pores. A blackhead or open comedones appears if the blockage is incomplete and the whitehead develops if the blockage is complete. Several treatment options are available, but acne can be persistent, and pimples (an inflamed whitehead) can heal, although it may go away others can cause temporary or permanent scarring.
Symptoms of acne include whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Sometimes it may even cause painful lumps due to the accumulation of pus in the pores; painful small lumps are called papules. Severe forms of acne may also develop into larger lumps beneath the surface of the skin called nodules and painful cystic lesions which are pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin.
There are four major causes of acne such as
Pimple/comedones appear when the oil glands or the pores in the skin get blocked. The hormones like androgen increase the production of more oil (sebum) in the oil glands, if the pores become clogged, the combination of oil builds and bacteria irritates the skin causing infection and inflammation. Bacteria further multiply in the clogged pores resulting in redness, swelling, and tenderness of pimples.
Acne of any severity tends to heal on itself without any treatment by the early to mid-20s, but it may take people some time especially women to lessen the symptoms of acne until the age of 40s. Mild acne may not leave scars, but moderate and severe acne regularly causes scars. Self-care for acne starts with good hygiene; it is recommended to use a mild soap to wash the affected areas once or twice a day and avoid using strong soaps and abrasive products as it may irritate the skin and might aggravate the acne further. It is also recommended to use water-based or non-comedogenic forms of cosmetics rather than greasy and oily cosmetics such as hair gels, sunscreens, and concealers. Over the counter acne products such as those containing benzoyl peroxide may promote peeling and controlling oil production, but it may take some weeks to notice any improvement.
Doctors may prescribe topical (applied on the skin) medications such as antibiotics (clindamycin with benzoyl peroxide or erythromycin with benzoyl peroxide), retinoids and retinoid-like drugs such as tretinoin adapalene, and tazarotene. Salicylic acid and azelaic acid which have antibacterial properties can help prevent plugged hair follicles.
Oral medications may also be recommended such as antibiotics, commonly used are doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline, and erythromycin. For most severe forms of acne, oral isotretinoin can be given by the doctors. It is a very potent remedy for acne although it can carry several side effects and should not be used when pregnant. Drugs to control hormones such as pills and oral contraceptives can also help in the management of acne.