What is Acne?
Acne is frequently narrowed down to only the most basic, common and well known of skin ailments: the nefarious pimple of adolescence. However, acne is a far more broad topic. Acne, by definition, includes any inflammatory ailment of the skin, especially those ailments caused by hyperactivity of the sebaceous glands. Acne typically manifests on the chest, back and face, although any area of the body with sebaceous glands (that is to say, anywhere with hair follicles) can be affected. Acne is generally a benign, cosmetic condition, but exceptions do occur.
Who gets Acne?
Acne is most common among adolescents approaching, entering or in the midst of puberty, as the hormonal shifts tend to increase glandular activity throughout the body, causing skin to become more oily and prone to outbreaks.
While acne is most common in adolescents, it often persists into adulthood. Acne will generally fade gradually until it disappears entirely around the age of 25 (aside from the occasional, conditional outbreak), but some individuals will be afflicted into their 30s and beyond, even into old age. Likewise, acne may begin in childhood or, very rarely, not manifest until after puberty entirely, or, most rarely, never manifest in any capacity at all.
What Causes Acne?
There is no single ’cause’ of acne by any means. Most cases of adolescent and adult acne are nothing more than the skin responding to entirely normal glandular activity. However, there are a great many factors that may exacerbate pre-existing cases of acne, even if they are not the root cause, and many other things that may instigate glandular over activity and cause acne in individuals that would otherwise be unaffected.
The most basic factors include, but are not limited to:
- Dairy products, both for their fats and their hormone content.
- Stress levels, which may cause the skin to become more oily.
- Caffeine intake, which increases stress levels and exacerbates glandular activity.
- Dry climates, which may cause the skin to dry and crack, or cause present oiliness to become more noticable.
- Red meat, for reasons similar to dairy products.
- Fatty foods as a whole, contributing to the oiliness of the skin.
A more comprehensive list of possible causes and contributing factors can be found here:
What does Acne Cause?
Acne is generally a benign condition, and is not indicative of anything but biology as usual in most of the individuals experiencing trouble with it. However, more extreme and difficult cases of acne may result in infection or other complications, especially scarring. This can generally be prevented with proper care to avoid infection, such as leaving individual pustules and boils alone, but some acne rashes are simply too stubborn to go without treatment if scarring is to be prevented.
Acne can have a profound impact on the self-esteem of the afflicted. This is primarily because, unlike many skin ailments, acne tends to gravitate toward the face most of all, making the bearer self-conscious of his or her blemishes. It usually doesn’t pose much of a true social risk, as most in the same adolescent age groups are more or less equally as troubled by acne, but more severe cases can lead to mocking in the same way that more extreme deformities can.
How Serious is Acne?
Acne is not something to ignore, but it is also not something to panic over. For the vast majority of all individuals, acne of some form or other is nothing more than an unpleasantly irritating fact of life that plagues them for around a decade. Professional intervention is rarely required, especially not for anything life-threatening. However, acne can cause open sores, which may, without proper care, become infected, and different forms of acne may cause unwanted and unsightly scarring. Acne may also be indicative of a deeper health issue, or otherwise exacerbated by internal health problems, most often endocrine issues. This is why acute acne should not be ignored, and persistent or otherwise ‘unusual’ acne should be addressed.
How can Acne be Treated?
Generally speaking, acne is best handled by removing or mitigating the worst contributing factors–cutting back on dairy, caffeine and etcetera in excess. However, because most acne is based on the oiliness of the skin, various face washes that help reduce this (without causing the skin to dry, making acne worse) are frequently beneficial. There are very many products on the market for acne, all of varying effectiveness. This is beneficial, as there are also very many different causes of acne, but it may take some experimentation to solve your own particular issue.
That said, there are so many different variations and causes of that it would be quite impossible to find any single catch-all cure for every kind of acne in any given individual, nor any single cure for a particular type of acne that would work for everyone. For further information, please refer to the individual page for the type of acne you would like to see about treating.
It should be noted that acute, persistent acne must often be treated by a professional dermatologist, who can properly analyze and determine the best course of treatment, which may or may not include prescription medicines.
What does Acne Look Like?
Acne comes in many different forms, and consequently, has many different appearances. Generally speaking, it is visible in the form of red or otherwise discolored pustules, but it would be impossible to describe every form of acne at once. Cystic acne, for instance, bears no resemblance to blackheads, which in turn are structurally similar to but look completely different from whiteheads. This page includes images of more common forms of acne; for further information, please refer to the page for the specific type of acne you are curious about.
How do I know if I have Acne?
Acne is defined by the manifestation of overactive sebaceous glands causing tangible issues with the health of the skin. Simply put, if you don’t seem to have acne, you probably don’t have it. Conversely, if you do seem to have acne, that’s likely all it is. If doubt must be erased, consult a dermatologist.
How Many Types of Acne are There?
Very many. A comprehensive list can be found in the navigation on the left.