There's no doubt about it – acne is ugly. If you have blemishes on your face, neck, or back, you probably feel self-conscious about revealing your skin. Fortunately, there are effective methods for taking care of acne-prone skin. We can help you understand the common acne causes, recognize the symptoms of various types of acne, and learn about the treatment methods that are available.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is a somewhat complex problem that occurs when a number of factors work together to create the familiar blemishes on your face, shoulders, back, neck and chest.
The skin is filled with minuscule shafts through which hairs can grow – these tiny openings are known as pores or follicles. Beside producing hair, the follicles also contain oil glands that produce a substance known as sebum, which functions to keep the skin lubricated and prevent it from drying and cracking.
Under certain conditions, the oil glands tend to overproduce, clogging the pores and trapping dead skin cells and other materials inside. These conditions attract bacteria, which cause the redness and inflammation typical of acne.
The hormone fluctuations which often occur during puberty and menstruation can trigger over-production of skin oils; stress is also known to stimulate excess oil secretion. Teenagers who are experiencing puberty are commonly affected by acne, as are older women who are menstruating.
What are the symptoms of acne?
You have probably heard acne referred to as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or zits. Blackheads and whiteheads are the mildest form of acne, presenting as open pores containing dark material in the case of blackheads, or tiny, whitish bumps in the case of whiteheads.
Pimples, which are known medically as papules, are small, reddened bumps that may occur singly or in clusters. They are filled with a pus-like material, but generally only affect the outer layers of skin. Squeezing the pimples can make them worse, leading to more serious acne.
Nodules and pustules are the most severe form of acne, producing large, inflamed, hardened cysts which can be quite painful to touch. Without proper treatment, they can be extremely hard to control, and they often lead to acne scars.
Treating your acne depends on the type of blemishes you have, and can range from natural home remedies to over-the-counter medications to treatment by a dermatologist or doctor.
Where can I find out more about treating my acne problem?