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Nearly everyone struggles from outbreaks of pimples at some moment in life, making acne one of the most frequent skin disorders. Acne is a skin disorder usually developing in teenagers, nevertheless quite a high percentage of adults do undergo some form of acne symptoms.

Acne is characterized by the swelling of the sebaceous glands causing pimples, blackheads, white heads & inflammation. It happens in both sexes, however teenage boys tend to endure the most serious cases. Women are more likely than men to undergo mild to moderate forms into their thirties & over, & are somewhat more vulnerable to rosacea.

What to look for

Symptoms consist of a mixture of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads developing mostly on the face, neck, upper back & chest but can occasionally occur on other areas of the body as well.

Blackheads are flat, dark spots in the openings of the skin which are blockages of excess oil & dead skin that have darkened after being exposed to the air. In whiteheads, the blockage is not noticeable but a medium lump can be seen beneath the skin. This is the buildup of oil. Pimples can be characterized as frequent inflamed red sections or swellings on the skin. These sections are often sore; they can become pus-filled. They are due to a rupture of the blocked gland beneath the skin. If the blockage happens slightly deeper, then very huge cysts can acquire. These cysts surface as red or pale lumps which can be inflamed & filled with liquid. This is a more serious form of acne. Red swellings or lumps, is seldom visibly filled with pus, are growths, which develop from blackheads or whiteheads. Acne also tends to be worse in people with oily skin.



The cause of acne is not fully understood. While poor hygiene, poor diet, & stress can worsen acne, they definitely do not cause it. Acne develops because of a blockage in the opening of the oil glands in the skin.

It begins when medium hair follicles becomes blocked with oily secretions from the skin's sebaceous glands.

medium hair follicles, mainly those on the face, neck, chest, & back, can become blocked with sebum & keratin. As the follicles build up & bacteria increase, blackheads or whiteheads form on the skin's surface, a condition called non-inflammatory acne.

If the follicle wall bursts under pressure & sebum leaks into nearby tissue, pimples or inflammatory acne can acquire. If pimples become infected, matters are further complicated: The infection can penetrate deep into the skin & create cysts, which can burst & leave short or lasting marks.

Numerous factors appear to make certain people vulnerable to develop acne, it can be handed-down, a stressful lifestyle, & the use of oral contraceptives. Using oral contraceptives may trigger acne in some women but in fact suppress it in others, depending on the type of pill taken. Anabolic steroids taken by some bodybuilders can also lead to agonizing outbreaks.

However common acne vulgaris often happens in teen years as this is when there are large increases in hormone production from the sex organs & the Adrenal Glands.

Whiles in puberty, both boys & girls present high levels of androgens _ male sex hormones that consist of testosterone. Androgens can increase production of sebum, the substance that lubricates the skin & helps it keep moisture. There is usually only enough sebum produced to keep the skin supple & healthy.

Acne can afflict anyone who is having hormonal changes for whatever reason. The inflamed redness, pimples, blackheads, whiteheads & in serious cases, cysts are the result.

Dietary Considerations


Most of the doctors now believe that acne is not a food-related problem. Some alternative therapists, however, make a change in diet the basis of treatment. While experts in both camps concede that chocolate, fats, & other suspect foods don't cause acne, debate continues over whether they can aggravate the condition. Most Health Professionals agree that fatty or oily foods should be avoided & to eat plenty of fresh fruit & vegetables.

It is also important to drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day. Try to combine fresh food with vitamin supplements such as Vitamin A, B complex, Vitamin C & the minerals Zinc & potassium. Also useful are Lecithin, Echinacea, Garlic & Evening Primrose Oil. Always check the required doses.

When to Seek Further Professional Advice

If you notice your condition is worsening & the infection becomes severe with the formation of abscesses, cysts or larger boils.

If the surrounding tissue is bruised & damages as a result of squeezing the blackheads.

If your acne doesn't respond in two to three months to over-the-counter remedies; you may need medical treatment.

Alternative/Natural Treatments


There are some alternative therapies that has been proven to be very helpful. In addition to these therapies it is recommendable to keep the skin & hair clean as in the conventional treatments mentioned above.

Use mild soaps designed for skin health every day

Use a skin scrub based on oatmeal, calendula, tea tree oil (which is a natural anti-bacterial agent), thyme or cinnamon which gently removes the top layer of the skin & open the pores. Use 2-3 times per week.

Try to avoid alcohol based skin toners

Herbal treatments aid in reducing excess oil production, this helps the system cope with the overload of bacteria, & helps reduce inflammation & aids in the healing process.

You can expose your acne to some sunlight in moderation, but be careful to avoid overexposure.

Diet is very important & fatty or oily foods should be reduced.
Reduce stress by relaxing with a cup of tea made from lavender or chamomile.

Chinese herbal medicine for acne seeks to rid the skin of dampness & heat, which are believed to be contributing factors.
Many herbs are used to help heal the skin & soothe inflammation & itching. The herbs a trained naturopath or herbalist may consider are Echinacea, calendula, tea tree oil, & goldenseal.
Never use any herbal medicines on newborns without consulting your doctor

Traditional Treatment


The most important treatment is to keep the skin clean which allows the pores to breathe. Never squeeze or handle any infected or inflamed areas as acne can cause lifelong scars.

A clean face can only be of help if the hair is also washed & away from the face. The overactive

sebaceous glands cause the hair to become oily & dandruff can develop which can worsen acne problems.

The rare pimple or two need no treatment. Over-the-counter cover-up creams & cosmetics, if used at all, must be water based & hypoallergenic. These creams mostly contain anti-bacterial antiseptics to decrease skin bacteria & keratolytics which dispossess any plugs of sebum blocking the follicles. These products can be very useful for many sufferers.

Always follow the instructions carefully. Mild degreasing products may also be useful.

If you are using cosmetics ensure that only water-based products are the favored choices.

If these ordinary procedures do not help the problem, it is wise to consult a doctor who may prescribe certain treatments.

To treat mild acne, your doctor may recommend a topical over-the-counter medication consisting of benzoyl peroxide or prescribe the anti-acne drug tretinoin (retinoic acid), a vitamin A derivative. Before applying the medication, wash the affected area with a mild oil & scent-free soap.

When pus-filled zits are ready to burst, applying a warm towel for a few minutes may stimulate the process. Infected zits should be opened only by a nurse or doctor using surgical instruments & following antiseptic practices. Squeezing zits yourself may lead to further infection & the possibility of permanent scars.

Conventional medication favors drug treatments that prevent sedum & keratin production, control bacterial growth, or encourage shedding of skin cells to impediment pores.

Because many treatments can have strong side effects, any patient with a skin problem should continue with caution when trying out a new prescription. People with severe, stubborn cases need the care of a dermatologist. However, if this course of action is chosen antibiotics can be quite beneficial.

Oral antibiotics are mostly left to treat the more demanding cases of acne. They are of a lower dose that would be prescribed for an infection. Some forms of bacteria inflame acne & this is where antibiotics can help by extracting these & settling the problem.

For moderate to demanding cases, a mainstay of treatment is tetracycline, an antibiotic that is usually taken orally, sometimes in combination with topically applied tretinoin. Some other useful antibiotics are oral erythromycin & clindamycin.

Another development in acne treatment is the use of medication called isotretinoin which is taken from Vitamin A. However it should only be handled in extreme cases of acne where no other treatment has been of assistance & its use should be strictly controlled by a medical practitioner. It should not be used during pregnancy or if there is any possibility that conception has taken place. Only isotretinoin can be prescribed by a dermatologist. Chemical peeling & laser therapy are also avenues that could be investigated.

Patients receiving anti-acne drugs should be alert to possible side effects & interactions. The drugs tretinoin & benzoyl peroxide can leave skin blushed, dry, & sensitive to sunlight. Benzoyl peroxide may restrict the healing effects of tretinoin, so never apply them at the same time. Taking antibiotics for more than a few weeks may leave women defenseless to yeast infections.

There are surgical methods available to erase the scars from acne & your medical practitioner will be able to advise on this treatment.

The information contained in this Site/Service is not intended nor is it implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or taken for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Author - Body and Mind

Published - 2013-01-17