Acne is a common skin condition that results in red, bumpy, and blotchy skin, typically on the face. This generally occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil or dead skin cells. This process leads to several types of skin problems, including pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.
While it primarily affects adolescents, the truth is acne can affect people at any age. The symptoms vary quite significantly from person to person. However, they all involve painful or uncomfortable bumps, which can cause quite a bit of turmoil for those affected.
Effective treatment plans are available, but there is no known “cure,” which will stop these issues for good. The painful pimples and papules will slowly heal over time, but for many, the relief is short-lived, as new bumps seem to appear as soon as the older ones start to heal.
Those with mild acne typically experience both whiteheads and blackheads. The difference between them is merely whether or not the pores are open, with blackheads having open pores and whiteheads having them closed. These issues can lead to inflammation when bacteria builds up, causing what is known as inflammatory acne. When this inflammation persists and gets worse, it can even permanently scar the skin.
After puberty, people have a larger amount of the hormone androgen in their system, which increases the skin’s oil production. This oil, also known as sebum, is useful in protecting and moisturizing the skin. However, when pores become blocked with dead skin cells, the sebum builds up and leads to blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.
While we know androgen production is an important factor, we still don’t fully understand precisely what causes acne. The most commonly referenced risk factors of acne are things such as diet and not washing properly. However, there is very little scientific evidence supporting either of these theories. Instead, researchers believe things such as stress, hormones from certain medications, and certain skincare products can cause more blocked pores.
Acne is a prevalent condition, with some estimates saying around 90% of people experience acne at one point in their lives. While for the vast majority of people this will occur during the teen years, around 40-55% of adults aged 20-40 are diagnosed with some type of acne.
As such a common condition, which can scar skin for life, it’s crucial to find new and effective treatments for acne. If you or a loved one is dealing with acne, be sure to consult a doctor before starting any new medications. Especially if your acne is severe, they will provide the most relevant and useful information.