What is acne?
Exactly why some people get acne and some do not is not fully known. It is known to be partly hereditary. Several factors are known to be linked to acne:
Acne is the commonly used name for pores clogged by sebum (also known as whiteheads and blackheads), pimples, nodules or cysts that can appear on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, upper arms and upper legs.
Most teenagers and a good number of adults suffer from acne for more or less extended periods of time. The condition is not confined to any age group, race, or sex. It affects hundreds of millions of people across the world. The biggest problems with acne are the unpleasant look of pimples and the scars they may leave behind.
Although pimples are by far the most common form of acne and the one most people are likely to encounter or suffer from, you should known that there are other forms as well. The simplest form is acne vulgaris, which features only comedones, the simplest of lesions.
Lesions are small patches of skin affected by acne, although the term “lesion” is not restricted to the changes produced by acne in skin tissues. Acne lesions are the external form of comedones, the sebaceous follicles plugged by excess sebum.
Comedones are known as blackheads and whiteheads, depending on whether the pore is open or not. Blackheads are pores whose distended openings are blocked by a mixture of keratin and sebum that is blackened at the surface. Whiteheads are closed pores filled with the secretion of the sebaceous gland that swells underneath the tissue.
Comendones are the usual target for picking and squeezing. However, opening a follicle in the less than sterile conditions of your home is likely to result in a slight infection. An open pore is an entry point for all kinds of bacteria.
Papules – The papule is a small, solid usually inflammatory elevation of the skin that does not contain pus. Very small papules can also appear in clusters, due to the tissue’s response to acne.
Pustules – Pustules are small inflamed elevations of the skin that are filled with pus. The pus is a combination of bacteria, white blood cells and dead skin cells. Pustules are usually formed around sebaceous follicles and hair.
Maculae – A macula is a red spot on the skin left behind by an acne lesion. Maculae are flat, red and stand out against the surrounding skin. A group of maculae gives the face an inflamed aspect.
Nodules – The nodule is a solid lesion, one of the most painful lesions caused by acne. Nodules tend to extend into the deeper layers of the skin and are known to lead to tissue destruction. They can be very painful to remove and leave scars behind. Nodular acne is a severe form of acne that is treated only with isotretinonin.
Cysts – Cysts are lesions shaped like capsules and contain liquid or semi-liquid pus similar to that found in pustules. However, cysts are larger than pustules and can be infected. Cysts are also extending deeper into the skin and leave scar tissue behind. Nodulocystic acne is probably the worst type of acne known to man. It is resistant to treatment and responds only to isotretinoin, the substance obtained from Vitamin A.