Acne is a disorder resulting from the action of hormones on the skin's oil glands (sebaceous glands), which leads to plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions commonly called pimples or zits. Acne lesions usually occur on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders.
Although acne is not a serious health threat, severe acne can lead to disfiguring, permanent scarring, which can be upsetting to people who are affected by the disorder.
- Several myths exist about acne.
- Acne is not a result of uncleanliness or infrequent washing. In other words, acne does not result from too much dirt on the skin or in the pores. Too much scrubbing may actually make acne worse.
- Acne does not come from eating a lot of so-called bad foods such as chocolate or fried foods. No foods cause acne or make it worse.
Several factors contribute to the development of acne. The primary problem is that the abnormal flaking of cells inside the hair follicle leads to the formation of a plug. The plug can enlarge and even rupture the hair follicle. A ruptured hair follicle spills its contents of oil and debris into the skin where it leads to swelling and causes redness (inflammation).
- Bacteria that normally live on the skin also play a role in acne development. The bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes are responsible for causing acne. These bacteria produce substances that cause redness and irritation (inflammation). They also make enzymes, which dissolve the sebum (oil from oil glands in the skin) into irritating substances. These substances also make the inflammation worse.
- Certain hormones called androgens are an additional factor in causing acne. Androgens are male hormones that are present in both men and women, but are higher in men. Androgens do two things: First, they enlarge the sebaceous glands in the skin. Second, they cause these glands to increase sebum (oil) production. The increased sebum leads to plug formation and serves as more "food" for the bacteria. Androgens surge at puberty, which is why teens develop armpit and pubic hair, and why boys develop facial hair and deeper voices. This hormonal surge also contributes to the development of acne in teens.
- Estrogens, which are the female hormones, actually can help to improve acne in girls. A woman's monthly menstrual cycle is due to changes in the estrogen levels in her body. This is why acne in a female may get better and then get worse as she goes through her monthly cycle. A doctor may recommend acne treatment with birth control pills, which contain the helpful estrogens.
- We also now believe that acne can run in some families. This may be due to some genetic factor that has not yet been discovered.
- Anatomy of the hair follicle: Hair follicles exist on virtually all skin except for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Inside the follicle, the hair extends up from the deep layers of the skin and comes out of a pore. Near the surface, the oil gland (sebaceous gland) enters the hair follicle where it empties oil (sebum) at a relatively constant rate. The sebum lubricates the skin and provides a protective barrier to prevent drying. Skin on the face, chest, and back has an especially large number of sebaceous glands. These are the areas where acne occurs.
- Acne lesions: There are 2 major types of acne lesions: noninflammatory and inflammatory. Noninflammatory acne lesions include blackheads (open comedones) and whiteheads (closed comedones). Open and closed comedones along with papules and pustules are referred to as papulopustular acneóa form of inflammatory acne. Nodular acne is the most severe form of inflammatory acne.
- Noninflammatory acne: Open comedones result from the enlargement and dilation of a plug that forms from oil and flakes of skin inside the hair follicle.
- The hair follicle pore remains open exposing a black plug (known as a blackhead). The dark color is not dirt inside the pore. Instead it is the oil inside the pore, which has become exposed from the outside air.
- A closed comedo forms if the hair follicle pore remains closed. The plug in a closed comedo or whitehead is therefore not exposed to the outside air, and no black color develops. The closed comedo simply appears as a tiny, sometimes pink bump in the skin.
- Inflammatory acne: Inflammatory acne lesions consist of red blemishes, pimples also called zits (papules, pustules), and larger, deeper swollen tender lesions (nodules).
- Papules are closed comedos, which have become red, swollen, and inflamed.
- Pustules are closed comedos, which become inflamed and begin to rupture into the skin forming pustular heads of various sizes.
- Nodules represent large, tender, swollen acne lesions, which have become intensely inflamed and rupture under the skin. If untreated, these can produce deep scarring.
Today, virtually every case of acne can be resolved. The key to getting rid of acne lesions and preventing new ones from forming lies in knowing that:
Resolution takes time.
What works for one person may not work for another.
A dermatologistís help may be required.
Drink ten 8 ounce glasses of water a day to hydrate your body and give your skin a chance to flush the dirt and oil from its pores.
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Pyridoxine, or B6, is one of the most essential vitamins in the body. The changes in the skin and mucous membranes are similar to those caused by other members of the water-soluble B-complex family. These include seborrheic dermatitis (most often around the nose, eyes, eyebrows and mouth), acne, cheilosis, and stomatitis (tiny sores and cracks in and around the mouth), and glossitis (inflamed tongue).
Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene are the "three musketeers" that continuously come to the aid of beauty by battling and quenching free radicals before they can harm precious and vulnerable skin. Fat-soluble beta carotene, for example, migrates to the skin, where it offers not only protection from free radicals from within, but from without, as well. It enables the skin to increase its exposure time to the sun before burning. But for some people with very sensitive skin can case sun burn. Likewise, vitamin E helps prevent free radicals generated by UV rays in the skin from doing their damage. Vitamin C, in turn, recharges vitamins E and carotene, and also prevents skin damage due to UV-generated free radicals. Vitamin C supports hair and
nail growth by improving circulation. Useful as treating dandruff. May aid in preventing hair loss.
Zinc and Selenium are two minerals that are also essential to beautiful skin, hair, and nails. Selenium has been called one of the most critical anti-aging nutrients on the planet. It is a superior antioxidant and free radical neutralizer. Zinc, an antioxidant in its own right, is also an integral part of enzyme function and tissue repair. Chromium is a mineral that is necessary for impaired glucose tolerance, elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, promotion of weight loss, acne, stimulates enzymes in metabolism of energy, healthy blood circulatory system, synthesis of fatty acids, cholesterol and protein. Helps to reduce skin inflammation and improve glucose tolerance. Some studies indicate that glucose tolerance can be impaired in some people suffering from acne. Also helps to reduce infections of the skin.
Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guide only. This information is offered to you with the understanding that it not be interpreted as medical or professional advice. All medical information needs to be carefully reviewed with your health care provider.
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