causes of acne:
Acne is actually caused by a combination of several factors:
- Rising hormone levels during adolescence cause enlargement and over activity of the oil glands in the skin.
- The canals that bring this oil to the surface become blocked with keratin (a protein that is part of the skin).
- When these oil glands are overactive and the canals are blocked, the bacteria that normally live on the skin and in the oil become trapped. They subsequently multiply, and cause inflammation and irritation.
Acne typically appears on your face. are the areas of your skin with the largest number of functional oil glands. Acne can take the following forms:-
- Comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) are created when the openings of hair follicles become clogged and blocked with oil secretions, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria. When comedones (koe-muh-DOE-neez) are open at the skin surface, they’re called blackheads because of the dark appearance of the plugs in the hair follicles. When comedones are closed, they’re called whiteheads — slightly raised, skin-colored bumps.
- Papules are small raised bumps that signal inflammation or infection in the hair follicles. Papules may be red and tender.
- Pustules (pimples) are red, tender bumps with white pus at their tips.
- Nodules are large, solid, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin. They’re formed by the buildup of secretions deep within hair follicles.
- Cysts are painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin. These boil-like infections can cause scars.
Hormonal changes in your body can provoke or aggravate acne. Such changes are common in:
- Women and girls, two to seven days before their periods
- Pregnant women
- People using certain medications, including those containing corticosteroids, androgens or lithium
Other risk factors include:
- Direct skin contact with greasy or oily substances, or to certain cosmetics applied directly to the skin
- A family history of acne — if your parents had acne, you’re likely to develop it, too
- Friction or pressure on your skin caused by various items, such as telephones or cellphones, helmets, tight collars and backpacks
- Stress doesn’t cause acne, but if you have acne already, stress may make it worse
Types of acne treatments include:
- Over-the-counter topical treatments: Acne lotions may dry up the oil, kill bacteria and promote sloughing of dead skin cells. Over-the-counter (OTC) lotions are generally mild and contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid or sulfur as their active ingredient. These products can be helpful for very mild acne. OTC acne medications may cause initial side effects — such as skin irritation, dryness and flaking — that often improve after the first month of therapy.
- Topical treatments available by prescription: If your acne doesn’t respond to OTC treatments, consider seeing a doctor or dermatologist to get a stronger prescription lotion. Tretinoin (Avita, Retin-A, others), adapalene (Differin) and tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage) are examples of topical prescription products derived from vitamin A. They work by promoting cell turnover and preventing plugging of the hair follicles. A number of topical antibiotics also are available. They work by killing excess skin bacteria.
Often, a combination of such products is required to achieve optimal results. A number of benzoyl peroxide and antibiotic combination medications are available, including different dose combinations of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin (Benzaclin, Duac, Acanya) and benzoyl peroxide and erythromycin (Benzamycin). Dapsone gel (Aczone) is a newer acne treatment that’s particularly effective in treating inflammatory acne. Prescription topical treatments for acne may cause skin side effects, such as stinging, burning, redness or peeling. Your doctor may recommend steps to minimize these side effects, including using a gradually increased dose, washing off the medication after a short application or switching to another medication.
- Antibiotics: For moderate to severe acne, you may need a short course of prescription oral antibiotics to reduce bacteria and fight inflammation. Since oral antibiotics were first used to treat acne, antibiotic resistance has increased significantly in people with acne. For this reason, your doctor likely will recommend tapering off these medications as soon as your symptoms begin to improve, or as soon as it becomes clear the drugs aren’t helping — usually, within three to four months. In most cases, you’ll use topical medications and oral antibiotics together. Studies have found that using topical benzoyl peroxide along with oral antibiotics may reduce the risk of developing antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics may cause side effects, such as an upset stomach, dizziness or skin discoloration. These drugs also increase your skin’s sun sensitivity and may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.
- Isotretinoin:For deep cysts, antibiotics may not be enough. Isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret) is a powerful medication available for scarring cystic acne or acne that doesn’t respond to other treatments. This medicine is reserved for the most severe forms of acne. It’s very effective, but people who take it need close monitoring by a dermatologist because of the possibility of severe side effects. Isotretinoin is associated with severe birth defects, so it can’t be safely taken by pregnant women or women who may become pregnant during the course of treatment or within several weeks of concluding treatment. In fact, the drug carries such serious potential side effects that women of reproductive age must participate in a Food and Drug Administration-approved monitoring program to receive a prescription for the drug.
Isotretinoin commonly causes side effects — such as dry eyes, mouth, lips, nose and skin, as well as itching, nosebleeds, muscle aches, sun sensitivity and poor night vision. The drug may also increase the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood and may increase liver enzyme levels.
In addition, isotretinoin may be associated with an increased risk of depression and suicide. Although this causal relationship has not been proved, doctors remain on alert for these signs in people who are taking isotretinoin. If you feel unusually sad or unable to cope while taking this drug, tell your doctor immediately.
- Oral contraceptives: Oral contraceptives, including a combination of norgestimate and ethinyl estradiol (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Previfem, others), can improve acne in women. However, oral contraceptives may cause other side effects — such as headaches, breast tenderness, nausea and depression — that you’ll want to discuss with your doctor. The most serious potential complication is a slightly increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and blood clots.
- Laser and light therapy:Laser- and light-based therapies reach the deeper layers of skin without harming the skin’s surface. Laser treatment is thought to damage the oil (sebaceous) glands, causing them to produce less oil. Light therapy targets the bacteria that cause acne inflammation. These therapies can also improve skin texture and lessen the appearance of scars. More research is needed to understand the most effective use of light and laser therapies in acne treatment, and experts currently recommend these approaches as stand-alone therapy only in people who can’t tolerate approved acne medications. These therapies may be uncomfortable and may cause temporary skin problems that mimic a severe sunburn.
- Cosmetic procedures: Chemical peels and microdermabrasion may be helpful in controlling acne. These cosmetic procedures — which have traditionally been used to lessen the appearance of fine lines, sun damage and minor facial scars — are most effective when used in combination with other acne treatments. They may cause temporary, severe redness, scaling and blistering, and long-term discoloration of the skin.
Some studies suggest that taking the following supplements may help treat acne:
- Tea tree oil:Gels containing 5 percent tea tree oil may be as effective as are lotions containing 5 percent benzoyl peroxide, although tea tree oil might work more slowly. Tea tree oil may cause a skin reaction known as contact dermatitis. There’s also some concern that topical products containing tea tree oil might cause breast development in young boys. Don’t use tea tree oil if you have acne rosacea because it can worsen symptoms.
- Alpha hydroxy acids:These natural acids — found in foods such as citrus fruits, sugar cane, apples and grapes — help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores when applied topically. Alpha hydroxy acids may also improve the appearance of acne scars. Adverse reactions to alpha hydroxy acids include redness, mild stinging and skin irritation.
- Azelaic acid:This naturally occurring acid is found in whole-grain cereals and animal products and has antibacterial properties. A 20 percent azelaic acid cream seems to be as effective as many other conventional acne treatments, including 5 percent benzoyl peroxide and oral tetracycline.
- Zinc supplements: The mineral zinc plays a role in wound healing and reduces inflammation, which could help improve acne. Taking a zinc supplement with food may reduce side effects, including a bad taste in your mouth and nausea. Zinc can also be added to lotions or creams and may reduce acne breakouts.
- Brewer’s yeast: A specific strain of brewer’s yeast, called CBS 5926, seems to help decrease acne. Brewer’s yeast may cause migraines in susceptible people and may cause intestinal upset.
What can you do about acne on your own?
Think back to the three basic causes of acne and you can understand why the focus of both home treatment and prescription therapy is to (1) unclog pores, (2) kill bacteria, and (3) minimize oil. But first a word about…
Lifestyle: Moderation and regularity are good things, but not everyone can sleep eight hours, eat three good meals, and drink eight glasses of water a day. You can, however, still control your acne even if your routine is frantic and unpredictable. Probably the most useful lifestyle changes you can make are to never to pick or squeeze pimples. Playing with or popping pimples, no matter how careful and clean you are, nearly always makes bumps stay redder and bumpier longer. People often refer to redness as “scarring,” but fortunately it usually isn’t in the permanent sense. It’s just a mark that takes months to fade if left entirely alone.
Cleansing and skin care: Despite what you read in popular style and fashion magazines, there is no magic product or regimen that is right for every person and situation.
- Mild cleansers: Washing once or twice a day with a mild cleansing bar or liquid (for example, Dove, Neutrogena, Basis, Purpose, and Cetaphil are all inexpensive and popular) will keep the skin clean and minimize sensitivity and irritation.
- Topical (external) applications: These products come in the form of gels, creams, and lotions, which are applied to the affected area. The active ingredients that kill surface bacteria include benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and resorcinol. Some brands promoted on the Internet and cable TV (such as ProActiv) are much more costly than identical products you can buy in the drugstore.
Benzoyl peroxide causes red and scaly skin irritation in a small number of people, which goes away as soon as you stop using the product. Keep in mind that benzoyl peroxide is a bleach, so do not let products containing benzoyl peroxide leave unsightly blotching on colored clothes, shirts, towels, and carpets.