Some people are not bothered by the occasional pimple and those are the people that are lucky, they are also the ones who don’t have severe acne. Acne predominately affects the face, which is where the problem comes in; it is not easy to hide the face as it is to hide the back or arms. The more severe the acne the more it affects ones psyche.
Let’s take a quick look at acne. The biggest myth that surrounds acne by those that suffer with it and those who make fun of it, is that acne is caused by dirt, it is absolutely NOT CAUSED BY DIRT. This type of thinking leads to shame, embarrassment, depression and social phobia. All this leading to poor body image, anger and frustration. Not a healthy way to live. The exact cause of acne is not always clear but what is known is how the spots are formed.
Acne is brought about by the over activity of the sebaceous glands that secrete oily substances onto the skin. That oily substance is necessary as it lubricates the skin keeping it soft and supple. The problem comes in when too much oil is released. This happens because of the hormone testosterone (androgen). Testosterone is found in both men and woman alike. It is due to this hormone that the over activity in the sebaceous glands are triggered.
The oil in the pores become trapped and blocks the sebum from escaping. The dead skin cells in the hair follicles are not shed properly and this causes further blockage. This becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and so now we have the start of whiteheads and blackheads. With bacteria and infections these grow to more severe types of acne like cysts that are closed sacs that are deeper than the surface of the skin and contains fluid.
Before going into the different types of acne let’s have a quick look at what makes up acne:
- Whiteheads are formed when the trapped sebum and bacteria stay below the skin surface.
- Blackheads are formed when the trapped sebum and bacteria partially open to the surface while the contents very slowly drain out. The colour is caused by the contents reaction to oxygen
- Papules are also known as “blind pimples” because they have no head. They are just red, inflamed bumps on the skins surface.
- Pustules are similar to whiteheads but are inflamed so they are red on the bottom with a white centre
- Nodules are associated with more severe acne. They are rather large hard red bumps that sit just beneath the surface of the skin. Scarring is more common with Nodules.
- Cysts are similar to nodules but they are closed sacs filled with pus. Also more commonly associated with scarring
The most common form of acne is called Acne Vulgaris. This type of acne consists of blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. This is the type of acne that most commonly sets in during puberty and affects up to 80% of all teenagers.
Acne Rosacea affects people more over the age of 30 and is more common in woman than in men but when it is found in men it is far more severe. The correct term is just Rosacea but it is often referred to as Acne Rosacea. Normally it appears as a red rash with bumps and pimples. It looks a lot like acne but there are no blackheads. Over and above that which Rosacea sufferers have to deal with the skin on their nose becomes rather thickened too.
Hormonal acne is not just associated with teenagers, but more recently is being linked to adult acne to. Hormonal acne is due to hormonal changes that occur in your body. The androgen hormone (as we discussed earlier) are too high bringing on a hormonal disorder. With hormonal acne you will find that your acne will react differently, depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle. Irregular menstruation is also typical of hormonal acne. Acne may also flare up during pregnancy, because of stress or due to an ovarian disease.
Acne Conglobata is a very severe form of acne and is more prevalent among males. This form of acne develops primarily on the back, buttocks and chest but it has been known to affect the face too. It is characterized by blackheads, pustules and nodules and severe bacterial infection. The blackheads are widespread while the nodules are interconnected beneath the surface of the skin. They gradually increase in size until they breakdown and the inside fluid or pus is released. Due to this it is rather disfiguring as it damages the skin rather severely and it leaves its mark in the form of scars.
Acne fulminans is primarily found in teenage boys. This form of acne has a sudden onset and is characterized by severe and ulcerating acne, a fluctuating fever, weight loss, inflammation and painful joints. These lesions form on the face, torso and upper extremities. As in acne Conglobata it is rather disfiguring leaving scars. The person just has a general feeling of unwellness.This form of acnedoes not respond to antibacterial therapy.
Pyoderma faciale is a skin condition that occurs in females usually between the ages 20 and 40. It affects the face only and starts rather suddenly, even if the person afflicted has had no previous acne experience, erupting into painful sores, pustules, nodules and cysts. It usually does not last longer than a year but it is rather humiliating experience to endure and it leaves severe scars.
Gram-negative folliculitis is a rare form of acne and is a bacterial infection that is due to a negative reaction to long term antibiotic treatment for Acne Vulgaris or Rosacea. Antibiotics alter the normal balance of bacteria leading to an overgrowth of these harmful bacteria, gram negative. These acne lesions are severe and scarring.
So we have briefly covered just some of the forms of acne that afflicts many people around the world. The problem that always needs to be noted is that for a large part acne is genetic and or hormonal and something that is not in the control of the sufferer. For these people sympathy and love needs to be forwarded.
As noted above forms of acne can be rather severe and unless a person has gone through it themselves they cannot fully appreciate what it is psychologically that the afflicted is going through. Give them the encouragement needed and the motivation to keep going on until a treatment is found that works for them.