Acne - What Is It?
This entry was posted on 6/17/2006 1:57 PM and is filed under Medicine,Health.
Acne is spots or papules found on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. These spots may develop into pustules with a white or yellowy head that can sometimes be painful. The occurrence of whiteheads and blackheads is quite common.
In puberty the level of sex hormones in the body rises and causes the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce too much sebum (oil). Sebum is produced in the hair follicles. There occurs an overproduction of the top layer of skin and the pores leading to the sebaceous glands become blocked with plugs of keratin. This causes blackheads and allows the bacteria that love sebum to multiply. The surrounding skin becomes inflamed, while the blood vessels expand to allow more infection-fighting cells to the blocked pore. This is usually accompanied by the production of pus.
Vigorous washing and scrubbing are not recommended as this can actually stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. Do not use alcohol based astringent cleaners, as it can dry out your skin. Do not touch or squeeze the pimples, as this spreads the infection even more.
Acne is an extremely common condition in adolescence and has affected most people, even mildly, at some stage in their lives. Adolescent boys and girls can suffer severe psychological effects from even mild cases of acne. Treatment today is successful in the most severe cases, but skin results are gradual and can take up to two months to show an improvement. Perseverance and patience with treatment will eventually produce positive results. Unfortunately, acne won't clear up on its own without some form of treatment. Treatment could possibly become ongoing, as new spots will continue to appear, leaving the teenager without a clear complexion. The initial step to follow is to try over-the-counter medications. These contain substances to dry the skin antibacterial properties to promote healing. If these do not produce results then take your teenager to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to suggest a range of creams, gels and lotions. It is important that all skin treatments are applied over the entire affected area and not just the spots.
If scars develop or the acne is on the back, then it is better to see your doctor who may prescribe antibiotics with benzoyl peroxide or and antibiotic cream. It is important to persist with the treatment given for at least two months. If there is no improvement discuss other options with your doctor. If the acne persists or causes great distress to the teenager, because of their appearance, then the doctor may refer you to a dermatologist.
Diet does not appear to be an important factor at this stage. It is worth noting that eating sweets and fatty foods depress the immune function, possibly making the condition worse. Nutritional deficiencies, particularly zinc and vitamin A should be eradicated, by eating foods rich in these minerals and vitamins. Monthly visits to a qualified beauty therapist will also prove effective, in long-term treatment of acne. Essential oils with antiseptic properties, such as Tea Tree oil, will reduce the build up of bacteria on the skin.
Your Independent guide to Acne