Acne Vulgaris is a common inflammatory skin problem which is known by different names such as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or zits. It is a disorder of sebaceous glands or oil glands present in the skin. It is a usual problem at teenage but can happen at any age. Most young people face acne troubles, mild or major, and it usually gets better after teens. Women face acne issues before their menstrual periods.
A lot of debris along with the germs build up in the blocked follicles of the skin and becomes a comedy. The comedones are of two types i.e. a black head and a white head. If these comedones break and the sebum inside comes in direct contact with the air, its top portion turns black giving rise to the blackhead. Comedo with white top is known as a white head.
What are the common symptoms of Acne?
Symptoms of Acne Vulgaris are commonly seen as whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Redness around these skin eruptions and scarring of the skin also signals towards acne. Sometimes these eruptions are deep and unusually large in size, these are called cystic lesions. They become quite painful if caught by infection.
What causes acne?
Usually, acne is caused due to hormonal changes in the puberty years. These hormonal changes stimulate oil production in the skin and follicles get clogged. It affects the areas of skin with the densest population of sebaceous follicles; these areas include the face, the upper part of the chest, and the back. In males, it is caused as an abnormal response to normal levels of testosterone.
As the responses to hormonal changes start diminishing, acne tends to disappear or decrease. But one cannot predict how long it will take for the acne to disappear and some people may continue to suffer for years after puberty.
Though the major cause remains the skin pores getting clogged by dead skin cells and oil, there could be genetic causes to acne too.
Using some cosmetic products can worsen the problem. Also, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, polycystic ovary syndrome, and other endocrine disorders with excess androgens may trigger the development of acne vulgaris.
How is Acne Vulgaris treated?
Acne treatment depends on whether one is suffering from a mild, moderate or severe form. There are many treatments available for Acne vulgaris.
Treatment for Mild Acne Treatment
At early stages or when the problem seems mild, it can be treated with topical application of Benzoyl Peroxide based ointment or an azelaic acid-based composition.
Treatment for Inflammatory Acne
For inflammatory one, there are topical applications available such as retinoid, benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid etc, but one must consult a skin specialist before choosing the right prescription for their condition. In some cases of inflammatory acne, antibiotics are also prescribed which are erythromycin, tetracycline, clindamycin, oxytetracycline or doxycycline. These are to be administered either topically or orally, as per the composition.
Treatment for Severe Acne
In case of severe acne, oral doses of antibiotics is a must to kill the infection from the body. These antibiotics are doxycycline, minocycline etc. Skin specialists often prescribe Oral Isotretinoin for severe acne.
Once the acne is treated, it becomes important to treat the residual scars too. These scars, sometimes, can be severe that cause disfigurement of body areas affected by acne and face. There are several treatments available for the residual scars which depend upon various factors like the depth and size of the scar, previous treatment is taken, their results and so on.
One may consider the following scar eliminating treatments:
- Skin Polishing: Microdermabrasion or Dermabrasion, depending upon the skin type
- Skin Peels –TCA, Jessner, Glycolic, Salicylic, Retinoid, green peel, Arginine peel, Blue peel, Combination peel etc.
- Microneedling: Dermaroller
- Fractional CO2 Laser
- Skin Grafting
What to avoid if one is suffering from Acne Vulgaris?
There are many things which acne patients must avoid in their lifestyles while they suffer from acne vulgaris.
- Medications that include steroids, lithium, some antiepileptics, and iodides.
- Seafood that contains relatively high levels of iodine.
- Chocolate, french fries, potato chips, and sugar.
- A high GI (glycemic index) diet that causes sharp rises in blood sugar.
- Exposure to severe sun or other extreme weather conditions.
All these often worsen acne.