What is acne? What are the different types of acne?
Acne (acne vulgaris, common acne) is not just a problem for teenagers; it can affect people from ages 10 through 40. It is not unusual for women, in particular, to develop acne in their mid- to late-20s, even if they have not had breakouts in years (or ever). On the positive side, those few individuals who have acne into their 40s may well grow out of it. Acne can appear on the skin as any of the following:
These blemishes occur wherever there are many oil (sebaceous) glands, mainly on the face, chest, and back.
You can do a lot to treat your acne using products available at a drugstore or cosmetic counter that do not require a prescription. However, for tougher cases of acne, you should consult a physician for treatment options.
What causes acne?
No one factor causes acne. Acne happens when oil (sebaceous) glands come to life around puberty, stimulated by male hormones from the adrenal glands of both boys and girls. Sebum (oil) is a natural substance which lubricates and protects the skin, and under certain circumstances, cells that are close to the surface block the openings of sebaceous glands and cause a buildup of oil underneath. This oil stimulates bacteria (which live on everyone's skin and generally cause no problems) to multiply and cause surrounding tissues to become inflamed.
Inflammation near the skin's surface produces a pustule; deeper inflammation results in a papule (pimple); deeper still and it's a cyst. If the oil breaks though to the surface, the result is a "whitehead." If the oil accumulates melanin pigment or becomes oxidized, the oil changes from white to black, and the result is a "blackhead." Blackheads are therefore not dirt, and do not reflect poor hygiene.
Here are some factors that don't usually cause acne, at least by themselves:
In occasional patients, the following may be contributing factors:
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