The acne can be a reminder of terrible memories, normally events related to adolescence. However, it does not only affect teenagers because it can cause distress at all ages and the reasons behind acne are multiple.
Sometimes people confuse acne with pimples, two things that are completely different: while the former is a skin disorder, the latter is a symptom of that condition and it is characterized by the presence of pus at the tip of the pimples (or papules).
What is acne?
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the hair follicles are plugged with oil and dead skin cells.
Beside pimples, it causes other uncomfortable symptoms such as blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads are open plugged pores while whiteheads are closed plugged pores.
It is worth mentioning that acne’s symptoms depend on the severity of one’s skin condition and in addition to those aforementioned, people may suffer from small and red papules, nodules (typically, they are painful lumps under the skin, large and solid), and painful cystic lesions, pus-filled lumps under the skin.
Most of the time, acne appears on the face, forehead, upper back, shoulders, and chest.
What are the causes that lead to acne?
Scientists do not yet have a clear answer to what are the causes behind the formation of acne.
Nevertheless, there are certain things that seem to trigger acne and sometimes make it worse.
The most common is the hormonal changes that affect humans at certain stages in life: puberty, the menstrual cycle, and pregnancy.
When mothers tell their sons not to squeeze or pick at existing pimples, they say it for a reason because such actions cause acne to worsen.
Another bad habit that can lead to the formation of acne is cleaning or scrubbing the skin too vigorously: gentle is always better, especially when it comes to the epidermis.
Living in countries that register high levels of humidity is a possible reason for acne. Pressure caused by a hat, collar, helmets, or backpack straps can also trigger this skin condition.
The uses of cosmetics (especially those which are oil-based), sunscreen, and hair products plus certain types of medications (for example, corticosteroids and anabolic steroids) can cause acne.
Unlike the things listed above, the common belief that stress or poor hygiene (dirty skin) triggers acne is not true.
The same applies to those people who eat a lot of chocolate or junk and greasy food: most of them do not show symptoms of acne.
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Types of acne
There are seven common types of acne. Comedonal acne is the mildest form of this skin condition and it looks like small to medium-sized (sometimes skin – colored) bumps.
These are commonly referred to as whiteheads and it is better to avoid popping them. As mentioned above, messing with the skin can trigger acne. Blackheads are another common form of acne and getting rid of them is easy undergoing a pore – cleaning treatment, at least once a month.
Contrary to what many people think, blackheads are not the result of dirt formed inside the pores: the black stuff is just oil and skin.
The third type of acne is papules, caused by an excess of oil and dead skin cells clogging a pore. This combination forms a comedone that causes inflammation if it ruptures into the skin.
The inflammation is the body’s reaction to a skin infection. Pustules, or pimples, are infected papules that can form anywhere in the body, especially on the face, back, and chest.
Preventing pustules is possible by regulating the skin’s sebum production. Because finding the correct balance in life is important, the same applies to the quantity of sebum: a small amount is not enough and too much can cause pustules.
The nodule is a type of acne which is very similar to papules but starts deeper in the skin. They do not have a “head” as pustules do and they feel hard and are painful to touch.
Once again, nodules should not be messed with or inflammation, and scarring will most likely increase. Cysts are a form of severe acne and they look like large, red boils.
Unlike nodules, cysts are filled with pus, they will feel softer, yet they are painful. Because cysts are a type of acne that can leave scars, leaving them alone is highly recommended.
Trying to pop them will increase the likelihood of scarring and it can spread the infection. It is important to remember that cystic acne is not the result of poor hygiene.
Although they are not technically classified as acne, milia (also called milia seeds) are often confused with whiteheads or blackheads. They look like little cysts, little bumps that form around the nose, the eye area, and the cheeks.
Milia normally affect babies (and the rest of age ranges) and they appear when too much keratin (the protein responsible for the strengthening skin, nails, and hair) is trapped under the skin.
How to prevent acne?
Prevention of acne depends on the type of skin condition affecting the person. For example, in the case of whiteheads, natural treatments like witch hazel are very effective.
Blackheads can be easily treated and prevented with the use of a toner, at least twice a day. Papules should be taken care of with soothing botanical ingredients like camellia, green tea, raspberry seed oil, etc.
Pustules need a moisturizer to go away because it hydrates and nourishes the skin, therefore helping control the production of sebum.
When the acne type is more serious, apart from leaving it alone, paying a visit to the dermatologist is highly recommended.
Only a professional skin doctor will give the best treatment to get rid of some of the worst forms of acne. In certain cases, protecting the skin from UV rays is also very important because it prevents acne from worsening.