Acne (pimples) is a common chronic skin disease involving blockage of the hair follicles. The blockage leads to the formation of comedones that can be open (blackheads/whiteheads) or closed –appearing as small nonpainful bumps under the skin. When the blocked pore becomes inflamed or infected it then forms red papules (small tender red bumps) or pustules (red bumps with pus). At times acne can be so worse that it forms big cystic or nodular lesions. The above lesions can be present on one’s face together at the same time or only one type of lesion can predominate.
Acne can affect anyone especially if you have relatives who have had acne before. The majority of people affected are adolescents but any age group can be affected. It can also persist into, begin, or become worse in adulthood and that form is called adult-onset acne.
Acne usually affects the face but the back, arms, chest and any other part of the body can be involved.
In most people the cause of acne is inherited or genetic but there are certain factors that make acne worse. This includes sex hormones the production of which is increased during puberty. Other factors include medical conditions like polycystic ovaries, psychological stress and depression, environmental factors like high humidity causing swelling of the skin. Some cosmetics products including foundations, products that have lanolin amongst many others can worsen acne. Some studies have suggested that other foods can worsen acne including high glycaemic index food, dairy products, caffeine and chocolates.
For treatment of acne is best to visit your dermatologist. Severity of acne is graded and dermatologists or skin doctors treat different acne grades differently. Treatments usually include topical retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, the combination of retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics, salicycilic acid and zinc preparations. In severe acne antibiotics will be added to the topical treatments and sometimes oral retinoids can be used. Your dermatologist will recommend what facial products including sunscreen to use and advice on the use of makeup. Chemical peels or other cosmetic procedures can be added to the treatment regime.
Often both treated and untreated acne lead to some form of scarring. Untreated acne leads to more permanent scars that might need surgical or more invasive treatments. In mild or acne that was treated early dark skinned patients often get flat dark marks/ spots and fair skinned people get reddish spots. Your dermatologist will prescribe depigmenting agents for bad dark spots in conjunction with a good sunscreen. For indented marks dermapen treatments or deep chemical peels can be done.