Acne vulgaris (or simply acne ) is a long-term skin condition characterized by areas of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, greasy skin ,and possibly scarring.
Genetics is estimated to be the cause of 80% of acne cases. The role of diet as a cause is unclear. Neither cleanliness nor sunlight appear to be involved.
Germs do not cause pimples or acne. Pimples are formed when excess skin oil, called sebum, mixes with dead skin cells and clogs pores.
Once a pore is clogged, bacteria (called P.acnes) that normally live on your skin thrive in the trapped oil and rapidly increase in number. When bacteria multiply in a clogged pore, the pore becomes inflamed. Inflammation causes a pimple to look red and swollen.
You will agree with me that pimples don’t look the same on each person. Each lesion is placed into a category based on its characteristics. One’s face may break out in pimples that fall into more than one of these categories.
(At this point I should warn you about some graphic images below.)
Blackheads and whiteheads.
Oil, dead skin cells and bacteria block pores and cause small bumps called comedones. Comedones may be open or closed. If a blocked pore stays open, it can look kind of black and is called a blackhead. If a blocked pore closes up, the top of the bump looks more white thus it’s called a whitehead.
Papules and pustules.
Sometimes the pores get so irritated that their walls break. That causes bigger pimples that are called papules and pustules. Papules are hard when you touch them. A bunch of papules that are near each other can make your skin feel like sandpaper. Pustules are like papules except yellowish, liquid pus fills them sort of like a blister.
Nodules and cysts.
When blocked pores get more irritated, they get even bigger. They go deeper into your skin, too. They can really hurt. Nodules are hard. Cysts have pus and are softer.
Acne may be further categorised as mild, moderate or severe based on the number of lesions on the affected area.
Although pimples are not in themselves bad for overall health, living with them, especially if they are persistent and become a long-term problem can be as devastating emotionally as living with a chronic disease.
Lack of proper self help treatments only worsens the situation. If you’re tired of DIY home remedies then stick around for my next post.
In my next post, we will learn about treating mild to severe acne, the current gold standard product in treating acne and other ointments you may find useful for your medicine cabinet.
Thanks for stopping by!