ACNE: Millions of people around the globe suffer from this skin condition. Acne Vulgaris, commonly referred to as acne, can effect people of all ages but usually is found most often in teens and young adults. It may appear in several different forms and on various areas of the body like the face, neck, chest and back. Acne forms due to a blockage in the pores or follicles.
The most common forms are Whiteheads and Blackheads (Comedones), these are both types of Non-Inflammatory Acne. Inflammatory Acne rears it's ugly head in the form of Pinhead's (Papule's) and Pimples (Pustule's). When a small inflamed lesion completely collapses or explodes, it can severely inflame the surrounding area of skin and even engulf any follicles next to it as well.
These large lesions are referred to as Nodules and Cyst's and in many cases, and not necessarily the most severe, can result in scarring of the skin as well.
Acne Vulgaris or common acne happens when the follicle, or pore, on the surface of the skin becomes clogged. This clog may be a result of dirt, dead skin cells or bacteria form a clog just under the surface of the skin. Sebum, oil produced by the Sebaceous Gland, which normally travels up along the hair shafts and then out through the opening of the hair follicle onto the surface of your skin. As the build-up gets bigger the pore will enlarge and show in the form of a whitehead or blackhead. Whiteheads are formed when the sebum and bacteria stay below the skin surface stretching it and giving it a white appearance.
Blackheads form when the pore opens and the blockage becomes exposed to the air, where it oxidizes and turns a brownish/black color. These types of lesions are also referred to as Comedones and can take a long time to disappear due to how slowly they drain. These lesions will either release their contents and heal or they could rupture the follicle wall and become inflamed.
Once a rupture in the follicle wall occurs, this is known as a Papule. This rupture triggers a rush of white blood cells into the pore. After several days of white blood cells building up within the pore, they begin to push through to the surface of the skin and form a small Pustule.
This pustule is what most people commonly call a “Zit" or “Pimple". In more severe cases of Acne, the inflamed lesion can completely collapse or even explode causing the lesion to spread to the surrounding follicles and create large lesions known as Nodules and Cysts. When a follicle ruptures along the bottom a total collapse of the pore can occur causing a big bump that can be painful to the touch.
In the most severe cases, this reaction under the skin can result in very large, some as big as a quarter, pus filled lesions called Cysts.
You can help yourself by following these simple measures to help prevent or reduce further breakouts. Wash your acne-prone areas, this helps remove excess oil and dead skin cells. Just be careful not to wash too much as this can irritate the skin. Twice a day should be more than adequate and only use your hands with a gentle cleanser, and choose one that is oil free and water based. Also don't use a wash cloth, using one could actually irritate the skin even further. Try a over the counter acne cream or or gel that will help dry up excess oil, products that contain benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid as active ingredients should work best. For women, avoid heavy makeup. If you can afford them, choose powder based cosmetics vs cream based products. Powder products are much less irritating to the skin, and be sure to remove all your makeup before you go to bed too, the friction with your pillow can cause the pores to become clogged. Last but not least, shower after you exercise or any time you sweat. The oil and sweat on your skin can trap dirt and bacteria and also cause a clog to develop. These are only a few suggestions that may or may not help your particular case. If you have an extremely severe case of acne, it may be time to enlist the help of a Portland Acne Expert who can work with you and your skin type to develop a treatment plan.