What is Acne?
The word acne comes from the word acme meaning "the highest point", which comes from the Greek akme meaning "point" or "spot"
Acne is a disease that involves the oil glands of the skin. It is not dangerous, but can leave skin scars. Your skin has pores (tiny holes) which connect to oil glands located under the skin.
How common is acne?
Although acne affects both men and women, young men suffer from acne for longer - probably because testosterone, which is present in higher quantities in young men, can make acne worse.
What causes acne?
Nobody is completely sure what causes acne. Experts believe the primary cause is a rise in androgen levels - androgen is a type of hormone. Androgen levels rise when a human becomes an adolescent. Rising androgen levels make the oil glands under your skin grow; the enlarged gland produces more oil. Excessive sebum can break down cellular walls in your pores, causing bacteria to grow.
Some studies indicate that susceptibility to acne could also be genetic. Some medications which contain androgen and lithium may cause acne. Greasy cosmetics may cause acne in some susceptible people. Hormone changes during pregnancy may cause acne to either develop for the first time, or to recur.
Looking after your skin if you have acne (or are prone to acne)
- Wash your face about twice each day. Do not wash it more often. Use a mild soap made especially for people with acne, and warm water. Do not scrub the skin. Experts advise the use of an OTC lotion which contains benzoyl peroxide.
- Don't try to burst the pimples. You may push the infection further down, causing more blocking and worse swelling and redness. Popping pimples makes scarring more likely.
- If you have to get rid of a pimple for some event, such as a wedding, or public speaking occasions, ask a specialist to treat it for you.
- Try to refrain from touching your face with your hands. When you are on the phone try not to let the receiver touch your face - there may be sebum and skin residue on it.
- Keep your hands clean, wash them regularly.
- Always wash your hands before touching your face. This includes before applying lotions, creams or makeup.
- Glasses should be cleaned regularly. They will collect sebum and skin residue.
- You skin needs to breathe. If your acne is on your back, shoulders or chest try wearing loose clothing. Tight garments, such as headbands, caps and scarves should be avoided - if you have to wear them make sure they are cleaned regularly.
- Don't go to sleep with makeup on. Only use makeup that is nonceomedogenic or nonacnegenic - you should be able to read this on the label. If you cannot find it, ask the shopkeeper or pharmacist. You should use makeup which does not have oil and does not clog up the pores.
- Hair collects sebum and skin residue. Keep your hair clean and away from your face.
- Too much sun can cause your skin to produce more sebum. Several acne medications make it more likely that you will be sunburned.
- If you shave your face, do it carefully. Use either an electric shaver or safety razors. If you use a safety razor make sure the blade is sharp. Soften your skin/beard with warm soapy water before applying the shaving cream.
What can make acne worse?
Anxiety and stress
Hot and humid climates
Oil based makeups
Squeezing the pimples
Sources: Wikipedia, Duke University, American Academy of Dermatology, National Health Service (UK).