Acne, which is commonly known as pimple, is an ailment that gives chills to youngsters by just thinking about it. Four out of five people between the ages of twelve and twenty-five have acne, making it the most commonly diagnosed skin condition.
My skin is very sensitive; it is highly susceptible to become dry. On the other hand, I have been lucky so far that I do not have a severe acne problem. I had many friends and family members, who were victims of sever acne problem.
Acne or pimples apart from being a constant pain; it is significant cosmetic problem. Acne generally does not distinguish between male or female and is more problematic at teen age or at the age of puberty. People who have oily skin are more susceptible to acne than those with the dry skin.
Although, acne or pimples is a very common problem, still most of us do not understand the basics of Acne. As much as I am keen to write about the natural therapies to treat acne, I think if we get to know about acne, it’s always better than just going after applying some lotion or soap.
The exact cause of acne is not known, as the science is complicated, but still we can enlighten ourselves with what is known and the leading causes of acne.
What is basic structure of Skin?
It is important to know basic structure of skin to understand how acne is formed, believe me it is interesting? Your skin consists of tiny openings (holes) that are called pores.
These pores are hair follicles through which fine hair grows. Each hair is connected to sebaceous gland, which is responsible for producing a substance called sebum.
Sebum is important as it is an oily substance which lubricates the hair and the skin and keeps your skin soft. The sebum reaches the surface of the skin through the hair follicle. The hair follicle is lined with cells called Keratinocytes.
How does acne or pimples form?
During formation of acne several sequential events occur inside the pore. Events can be simplified into following steps:
- Sebaceous glad produce too much sebum (oil)
- Pore lining naturally renews itself by shedding dead cells.
- These dead cells combined with excessive sebum, create plug resulting in enlarged, blocked pore called comedo.
The plug is actually early sign of acne and prevents sebum from reaching to surface of skin, i.e now the follicle is filled with sebum (oil) and cells (keratinocytes).
The bacteria called propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes, which is present on the skin, grows inside the plugged follicle. This bacterial growth causes pain, inflammation and swelling. Next stages of acne formation include:
- Attack of white blood cells due to bacterial growth in plugged follicle.
- This leads to inflammation of skin, characterized by heat, swelling, redness and pain
- Wall of follicle breaks down and expels sebum, dead cells and bacteria on the skin, which is visible in form of pimple.
Well, now I understand that why those pimples look shiny because they contain excessive sebum, the oily substance. Pimple or acne can be mild, moderate or severe.
Why do we see increased acne activity during puberty?
During puberty, testosterone, which is a hormone present in males and females, increases activity of sebaceous gland to produce more sebum. Production of more sebum increases chances of acne by the mechanism described in previous section.
Do pimples form in one day?
It does look like that you slept perfect and at a sudden you see pimple when you wake up. Well you can understand more now that the events mentioned above are not possible in fraction of seconds. Pimple emerges from a blemish, which requires 2-3 weeks to take a defined form of acne.
What are main factors that contribute to acne?
It is difficult to pin down the exact cause of pimples, but there are certain factors that increase probability of forming pimples. The more factors include:
- Hormonal changes: As described above secretion of more sebum during puberty. In addition, women can have hormonal changes during menstrual cycle, pregnancy. Even physiological stress and depression can cause these hormonal changes
- Genetic factors: Your family history is important. If acnes problem runs in your family, you are more likely to suffer from pimples.
- Over secretion of sebum
- Dead cells
- Inflammatory response
- Environmental factors: use of certain cosmetics, moisturizers, pollution and even diets can induce conditions of increased acne activity.
- Certain medications: steroids, contraceptive pills or anti-depressants are example of some of the medicine, which can cause hormonal changes triggering acne.