Acne vulgaris, commonly known as “acne” is an inflammatory disorder of the pilosebaceous unit (a unit of the hair and oil glands). It is usually seen in adolescence or around puberty, when the oil glands get activated by hormones. However, acne is also experienced by many adults. Acne is more common and more severe in males than in females due to androgens (male hormones). Genetic factors also play a role – if you have a family history of acne, you are more likely to experience it.
What causes acne?
Acne is caused by an increase in oil gland activity, combined with the effect of hormones, resulting in inflammation. Hormonal spurts during puberty is one reason that acne is very often seen in teenagers.
Other factors can also aggravate or worsen acne:
- Hot and / or humid climates
- Oils or heavy creams, especially for acne-prone individuals
- Diet. Foods that have a high glycemic load like simple carbohydrates, chocolates, and fried foods can contribute to acne
- PCOS. The hormonal effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome/disease can often cause acne in females
How bad can my acne get?
Acne usually occurs in areas with rich oil gland activity like the face, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms.
There are four grades of acne:
- Grade 1 consists of blackheads and whiteheads with occasional raised red eruptions
- Grade 2 is similar to Grade 1, but with more inflamed red eruptions, some of which may be pus-filled
- Grade 3 is similar to Grade 2, but with many pus filled eruptions, as well as nodules that can be felt deep in the skin
- Grade 4 consist of nodules and abscesses along with scars
Grade 3 and 4 are considered severe forms of acne.
Do I need to treat acne, or will it stop on its own?
While acne affects your appearance, it is not only a cosmetic condition. It is an inflammatory disorder with hormonal and metabolic implications, and if not treated in time can leave significant pigmentation (discolouration) and scarring that may be irreversible.
Even though acne is usually self limiting and stops by a person’s early 20s, finding the cause and treating it is important to prevent or mitigate the pigmentation and scarring, as well as potential relapses as adult acne.
How can I treat acne?
In the upcoming Part 2 of our acne series, we will cover some common acne treatment options. Remember, however, that any treatment for acne should only be undertaken on the advice of a dermatologist.
With Remedico, you can consult a dermatologist for your acne problems without having to visit a clinic. Our service is the fastest, easiest way to get healthy skin and hair.
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