Can Somebody Please Tell Me What Is Acne?
You see it everywhere; teens agonize over it; adults and babies are afflicted, too. No age, gender or race seems to be safe. Acne is so common that it’s accepted as just a part of life, albeit a most unwelcome part. However, can anyone explain exactly what is acne?
Well obviously, acne is first and foremost an unsightly and embarrassing skin condition marked by the spots it leaves on various body parts, seemingly targeting and specializing in one or two particular areas such as the face or back. These spots aren’t just your average whiteheads or blackheads often related to raging hormones or eating too much chocolate either. Rather, they are skin glands which have been afflicted and, if not properly looked after will eventually turn into nasty sores leaving behind ugly, tell-tale scars.
Multiple Causes Make Acne Complex
It is generally accepted today that you can’t pin acne down to only one cause. A common belief is that sufferers may be predisposed through genetic factors. However, it is not inconceivable for one person in the family to have a serious case of acne while other brothers and sisters go pretty much spot free. Research and observation strongly suggests that hormones and stress play big roles in the level of acne severity. One misconception is that acne sufferers are dirty. Actually the opposite is true as many subjects are fastidious and maybe even over-zealous with their cleaning habits. The fact is that acne is a result of a breakdown in the way the skin is supposed to work rather than external dirt.
Acne comes in a wide variety of forms ranging from mild, barely noticeable cases (except to the afflicted, of course) to extremely severe and rather grotesque manifestations that nobody can ignore. Some forms disappear with seemingly no attention while others can be dishearteningly most stubborn and persistent. For those with clear skin, it is all too easy to simply brush off the condition as a trivial – even silly – annoyance; nothing to fret about really. But talk to sufferers and they will tell you different stories about the profound physical and devastating emotional effects, some of which can last an entire lifetime.
Several Classifications for Acne Spots:
- Non-inflammatory – (comedo, comedones) These are simple blocked pores that may result in either blackheads or whiteheads. They usually respond well to cleansing. They may even be successfully removed without further incident or scar by a professional. (WARNING: picking or popping pimples on your own will only make matters worse!)
- Inflammatory – (papule) This is when a pimple appears as a result of blocked pores. The difference is that you can’t see the tip of pus. These can eventually develop into postules where the pus can been seen, thus the characteristic head of a zit.
- Nodule – These are large and very painful. They will often require surgery to remove as the core typically penetrates to the deepest layers of skin.
- Cyst – This is pus filled nodule, as painful as it is unsightly. Both nodules and cysts can leave permanent scars because of their sheer size along with the damage they cause to surrounding tissue.
Before acne progresses to the point where is inflammatory, it is wise to obtain effective, professional treatment as soon as possible.
Acne Isn’t Part of the Job Description
As the largest body organ and arguably one of the most important components of the immune system, the skin is something we often take for granted until something goes wrong. The skin’s pores are designed to secrete protection and lubrication in addition to eliminating toxic waste through sweat. When ordinary secretions of the begin to block the skin’s pores, the result is acne. No one knows why this blocking occurs even though the skin is doing what it is supposed to do.
What is known is when the first comedones that manifest do not go away by themselves, skin follicle walls burst. This triggers the release of the pore’s contents, allowing them to spread beneath the skin. This is how the inflammatory stage begins. If you ever wondered why acne spots are bigger than their non-acne cousins, now you know.
In these cases antibiotics are the recommended line of defence. If the infection ever gets outside of the follicle it can spread like wild fire making it nearly impossible to control with mere surface creams.
Acne – Going Beyond Skin-Deep
The debilitating effects of acne go far beyond skin-deep. One’s self-perception of having a hideous face can be a major reason for low self-esteem and depression in acne patients. Without question, it is a terrible affliction. Hopefully by having a better idea of ‘what is acne’ afflicted patients can better cope with the repulsive symptoms and the additional unwanted side effects they endure.