Acne - Cause and Effect

August 23, 2010

You've seen them - the young people with hair covering their faces, heads down and an unwillingness to lift up their faces to talk to you. You wonder what the problem is until, by some off-chance, you see their face. Now you know, and you understand. Acne. The psychological effects of acne are profound and they are not necessarily linked to the clinical severity of the problem. Even mild cases of acne can be disabling. Acne affects people at all ages, but the predominant group suffering with this skin problem are young people between the ages of 12 and 25.

What Causes Acne?

To date, there is no defined cause for acne, it is still not fully understood. However, it is known that the main cause is the excess production of sebum, an oily substance produced by the body to keep the skin and hair lubricated. During adolescence, the body over produces sebum and the overflow, coupled with dead skin cells, block hair follicles so the oil can't escape. This blockage provides a superb growing environment for bacteria, which then causes inflammation, redness, and an eruption of a pustule on the skin, called a pimple. The hormone responsible for the production of the oil is testosterone, which is present in both males and females. But, during puberty the young bodies change and react differently to the hormones causing the skin on the face and upper body to become excessively oily. By the end of the teen years, the body normalizes and acne usually clears up.

Things That Aggravate Acne

There are also medical and hereditary factors involved in the occurrence of acne. Many external conditions seem to aggravate the situation, such as stress, diet, menstruation, pregnancy, and certain medications. The medications that are indicated in acne include anabolic steroids, lithium, barbiturates, halogens, and androgens. Skim milk products are linked to acne, but there's no evidence that chocolate and fast food affect it.

How To Stop The Spread of Acne

Acne can spread like a wildfire from simply touching it and then touching other parts of the face or upper body. Squeezing pimples is perhaps one of the worst things you can do - the bacteria spreads and the surrounding skin may become affected. Popping pimples can also lead to permanent scarring. It's hard to keep the hands off the face - most of us touch our faces often throughout the day. The problem is that the hands contain both oil and bacteria which can make the acne worse. The best course of action is to make sure everything that touches the face is clean. That means the hands, glasses, telephone hand sets and the cell phone need to be clean or the risk of spreading acne increases. Equally important is the hair. Many young people wear their hair over their faces to hide the acne. Unless the hair is clean and oil free, it's a bad situation in the making.

Many treatments are available to help the acne sufferer. A dermatologist is the best source of information and treatment. If acne is a concern and it doesn't seem to be getting any better, then seeking the help of a professional is a good choice.

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