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Acne or pimples are the commonly confronted problem of face that affects the adolescents as well as the adults up to the age of forty. When the secretion of sebaceous or oil glands is overactive, which means above the normal level, it can clog the skin pores and block them. The resulting clogging of hair follicles underneath the skin causes the formation of pimples. They may appear in the form of blackheads, white heads, pustules or boils and may lead to permanent scars if the condition persists for a long period. It is estimated that almost 40 million Americans have acne problem. Every person’s skin is different, so it is important to get an insight about the cause and treatment methods suitable for the acne prone individual.

Possible causes of Acne

  • Food (high glycemic diet and milk of cow may have links with acne)
  • Menstruation
  • Heredity
  • Hormones (Menstruation during puberty- oil glands may become overactive and androgen production by the adrenal gland is excessive)
  • Drugs (corticosteroid or antiandrogen drug can be the factor of acne)
  • Extensive bacterial infection
  • Birth control pills
  • Cosmetics
  • Stress related to job or family

Types of Acne

  • Blackheads (accumulation of dead cells, bacteria and melanin causing partial blockage of pore)
  • Whiteheads (accumulation of sebum, dead cells and bacteria causing complete blockage of pore)
  • Papules (red, painful inflammation)
  • Pustules (pus filled inflammation)
  • Acne vulgaris, Acne rosacea, Acne fulminans are some of the severe types of acne.

Symptoms and Signs of Acne

  • Inflammations of the affected part –face and back
  • Pain or tender to touch
  • Acne scars
  • Blackheads
  • Pustules
  • Nodules (large, thick lumps)
  • Itching in the acne formed area
  • Cysts
  • Scarring

Complications associated with Acne

  • Itching due to application of tropical creams
  • Burning sensation (can be removed)
  • Redness or bump due to inflammation (Can be removed)
  • Scarring of the skin
  • Depression due to low confidence level

Diagnosis methods of Acne

There are some grading scales such as Pillsbury scale (1-4) for marking the severity of acne. Cook’s acne grading scale compares photographs with the patient’s acne to grade (from 0 to 8) the severity of acne. Leeds acne grading technique (ranges from 0-10.0) differentiates the lesions into inflammatory and non-inflammatory ones.

Treatment options for Acne

A dermatologist will review the skin type, make an examination of the existing condition of acne and suggest some tropical (salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur containing creams) as well as oral drugs to reduce inflammations. In severe cases antibiotics and vitamin A derivatives or retinoid will be prescribed for several days to reduce the symptom of acne. Chemical peeling, laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, phototherapy or laser treatment is performed by dermasurgeons to set right problems pertaining to mild scarring due to old acne marks.

Prevention methods for Acne

  • Clean with a mild soap-free solution twice a day
  • Do not keep touching the skin of your face
  • Avoid the sun or use sunscreen when going outside
  • Drink up to 8 to10 glasses of water to wash out toxins
  • Avoid consuming processed and frozen foods
  • Be sure to eat raw salads and fresh fruits everyday
  • Include whole grains, avocados and fish which are rich in pantothenic acid
  • Use skin products that are nonacnegenic and noncomedogenic.

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Health Tips

Make a puree of 4 tomatoes. Soak some rice for 30 minutes and grind it coarsely. Add this to the pureed tomatoes. Apply this mixture all over the body and leave it on for about 15 minutes. Bathe with warm water; this is a good scrub recipe for oily skin.

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