29th Mar, 2016
They may be red or black, or other embarrassing colours, depending on your complexion; those dots that from time to time take over your face. They are embarrassing, and when located at certain places (like the chin, the nose and the forehead), are rather painful. You have tried all kinds of soaps and creams and lotions. They hardly seem to work, and you’re at your wit’s end.
You know what I’m writing about? If you haven’t guessed already: pimples. Acne vulgaris is the proper medical term.
Acne is a skin disorder common in areas of the skin that have sebaceous glands (oil producing glands). Namely the face, the upper chest, and the upper back. In layman terms, it occurs when the pores of the skin are blocked by overgrowth of keratin. Keratin is the major structural component of the outer layer of the skin. It is commoner in puberty and early adulthood.
I am sure you want to know what causes acne. What makes the dots to erupt on your face, and deal a weighty blow to your self-esteem? Do you spend time in front of the mirror pressing and picking on your pimply skin? Have you tried, and failed, to hide them behind a thick layer of makeup?
There are many factors responsible for acne. The common ones are genetic factors (some people, because of their ancestry, are predisposed to acne), bacterial infection, hormonal factors (testosterone during puberty), lifestyle factors, and stress. During puberty, the increased levels of testosterone in both males and females predispose to acne. A strong lifestyle factor that predisposes towards acne is smoking. In our society, oily foods (for example, groundnut) are said to cause acne; there is no scientific data supporting this assertion.
When a person has acne, there would be oily skin, pimples, and in severe cases, scarring. Acne is a bothersome issue, and can cause a reduction in quality of life because it causes anxiety, low self-esteem, and in certain cases, depression.
What can be done to treat acne? Before using any pharmaceutical agent (lotions, creams, antibiotics, et cetera), there are some simple steps that can be taken that can go a long way in treating acne.
These simple steps are aimed at preventing oily skin. How is this done? Avoid oily soaps, creams and lotions. Women must take off their makeup before going to sleep. Bathe regularly, preferably in the morning and evening. Warm water cleans oil off the skin better than cold water. Avoid smoking.
The next step is to use an astringent to remove oil from the skin. When these do not work, it is best to see a dermatologist. Oral and topical antibiotics might be prescribed. Pharmaceutical agents such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, retinoids (oral and topical) and hormones can be used. Oral retinoids should be avoided in pregnancy; hormone therapy should not be used on men.
For most people, acne would stop being a problem when you leave your mid-twenties behind. And, worry won’t make them go away. Avoid so called cures to acne offered by non-professionals. They just might make matters worse. Why not see a professional? Your acne can become a thing of the past.
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