Acne is probably one of the most common health problems in adolescents which affects approximately over seventeen million people in the United States. Acne is just a condition involving sebaceous glands (skin oil glands) and the hair follicles. Acne results from the blockage of sebaceous glands leading to the formation of acne breakouts and abnormal growths. The condition generally begins with the onset of puberty. Going through the important points as adolescents attain puberty, the androgens also known as male sex hormones (mainly growth hormones or testosterone) are produced in large number resulting in sebaceous glands becoming over active which results in sebum being produced in high levels.
Sebum, that is nothing but just oil is produced by sebaceous glands which go to the skin surface area through the hair follicles. But, skin cells block out the hair follicles which ends up in oil also getting blocked. As soon as these hair follicles are blocked it leads to the development of skin bacteria generally known as Propionibacterium Acnes within the hair follicles which in turn results in swelling and infection of the epidermis of our skin known as Acne. When the follicles of hair are partially blocked it results in blackheads. If the hair follicles are completely blocked they will produce whiteheads. In case these blocked hair follicles are not treated they eventually burst open allowing the oil, bacteria and skin cells to discharge all around the skin resulting in irritability or itchiness and formation pimples. Acne can be generally shallow as well as deep in different individuals depending on the nature of skin and amount of oil produced.
There can be different factors why Acne develops. Apart from developing hormonal changes due to puberty it can also be caused by certain other factors like intake of medicines that contain lithium, barbiturates and corticosteroids. Acne can also be caused due to excess grease and oil in the hair follicles or skin merely because of cooking oil and usage of certain cosmetic products can in fact alleviate the acne problem. Acne disorder is many times inherited genetically also. Acne problem is worsened when the pimples are squeezed or scrubbed very hard.
Acne can form at any part of the body however they most often develop in the areas where sebaceous glands exist in excessive amounts like facial skin, chest area, shoulders, neck and upper back. The signs and symptoms may differ from person to person but commonly seen indications are: formation of blackheads, whiteheads, skin lesions filled with pus and which happen to be very painful and lastly nodules. One could get puzzled sometimes as the signs of acne could be like various other skin condition and it is always advised to consult a physician in such a case.
Treatments for Acne
There are various treatment options currently available to deal with acne. The primary goal of the treatment is to minimize scars and provide a better appearance. There are several treatments and the health care provider determines which particular procedure you will need depending on the level of acne problem, age, medical history, overall health, tolerance to certain medicines and procedures, requirements and last but not the least what patients prefer.
Treatments for acne are categorized into topical and systemic medication therapies that are provided based on extent of severity. In some cases the combination of both methods could be the best option for acne treatment. Topical medication is nothing but ointments, gels, creams, solutions and so on recommended to patients for acne treatment. Some of the types of topical medications are: Benzoyl Peroxide that kills the Propionibacterium Acnes bacteria, antibiotics can be useful for preventing or reducing the growth of the bacteria and in addition minimizes the inflammation, irritation, swelling and soreness, Tretinoin helps in preventing the development of new acne lesions on the skin and Adapalene reduces the growth of comedo.
Systemic medication therapies include treatment plan of systemic antibiotics mainly for the treatment of acne problem which is moderate to severe in nature. The types of antibiotics recommended are Doxycycline, erythromycin and tetracycline. In some cases an oral drug called Isotretinoin is prescribed for teenagers with severe acne condition which shrinks down the sebaceous glands that produce oil. The results are pretty good and nearly 90 percent of the adolescents have good results using this oral drug. Although the drug has many serious side-affects and thus it is important that one consults a physician before use.