Acne is a skin disease; it is not contagious and is due to increased secretion of sebum by the sebaceous gland coupled with inflammation. It is responsible for blackheads or comedones. The most common form is acne vulgaris, which is seen in 4 out of 5 teenagers and typically nestle on the face and chest. The other forms are:
- neonatal acne, which disappears during the first weeks of life;
- pre-pubertal acne;
- late acne in women over 25 years;
- acne rosacea;
- acne generated by medication.
During puberty, the production of testosterone-based hormones results in oily skin or hyper-seborrhea, recognizable by its shiny appearance. Sebum accumulates in the pores, which get clogged and result in comedones and microcysts or inflammatory lesions. Severe acne gives rise to the appearance of nodules exceeding five millimeters in diameter. In its aggravated form, acne conglobata, deep abscesses form on the face and also on the back. Infantile acne, shows up through acne lesions on the face and / or back. The latter only lasts from a few weeks to a few months.
The diagnosis of acne is made by a general practitioner or dermatologist. Typical juvenile acne does not require further examinations. On the other hand, as to the presence of acne in adult women, a blood test and an ultrasound of the ovaries may be useful in determining the causes of excessive secretion of male hormones.
Acne should be treated with a topical treatment that is accompanied by a daily cleaning of the skin with non-aggressive products made for oily skin and that reduce the production of sebum. Depending on the type of acne, treatment may combine or be limited to:
- products containing vitamin A;
- anti-inflammatory topical products;
- topical antibiotics.
In addition, a moisturizer can be applied in the morning. For severe acne or acne conglobata, an oral treatment can also be added: antibiotics, hormonal therapy in women, or even a potent derivative of vitamin A that requires a parallel use of oral contraceptives, as this latter product taken during pregnancy can cause very serious problems in the unborn child. Strictly-followed treatment produces good results. Any scars may be partially removed by a professional (peels, laser abrasion, etc..).
The sun temporarily reduces the appearance of skin damage, but it also increases the formation of blackheads, so it is better to prevent it. Toiletries that are gentle, non-irritating, and non-alkaline such as soaps with almond oil or creamy soaps are preferred. Popping pimples is similar to cutting the skin and should thus be avoided.