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Acne

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by skin eruptions around hair follicles. Acne is most common in teenagers but many adults suffer from acne as well. The condition usually begins at puberty and may continue for many years. Three out of four teenagers have acne to some extent. Most patients with acne have a strong genetic predisposition and it is exacerbated by hormonal changes, stress, jobs, starting families and poor skin care habits. Other hormonal changes can cause acne including menstrual periods, pregnancy or birth control pills.

Acne is caused when glands within the pores of the skin become plugged, because oil and skin cells accumulate faster than they can exit. The plug causes the hair follicle to bulge causing whiteheads, and the top of the plug may appear dark also known as blackheads. If the plug causes the wall of the follicle to rupture, the oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria found normally on the surface of the skin can enter the skin and form small infected areas called pustules, also known as pimples. If these infected areas are deep in the skin, they may enlarge to form firm, painful cysts.

Acne commonly appears on the face and shoulders, but may extend to the trunk, arms and legs. Aside from scarring, its main effects are psychological, such as reduced self-esteem and, according to at least one study, depression or suicide. Acne usually appears during adolescence, when people already tend to be most socially insecure. Early and aggressive treatment is therefore advocated by some to lessen the overall impact to individuals.

Several factors are known to be linked to acne:

  • Family/Genetic history. The tendency to develop acne runs in families. For example, school-age boys with acne often have other members in their family with acne as well. A family history of acne is associated with an earlier occurrence of acne and an increased number of acne lesions.
  • Hormonal activity, such as menstrual and puberty. During puberty, an increase in male hormones called androgens cause the glands to enlarge and make more sebum.
  • Inflammation, skin irritation or scratching will activate inflammation. Anti-inflammatory ingredients are known to improve acne.
  • Stress, through increased output of hormones from the adrenal (stress) glands, although modern tests have said otherwise and point to this not being a cause.
  • Hyperactive sebaceous (oil) glands.
  • Accumulation of dead skin cells.
  • Bacteria in the pores. Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is the anaerobic bacterium that causes acne.
  • Use of steroids.
  • Some medications.
  • Exposure to certain chemical compounds.

Diet
Many patients have the belief that acne is influenced by dietary factors, while doctors think that diet had little influence on acne. There is little scientific evidence to support this. Studies have shown that acne patients tend to have lower levels of vitamin A circulating in their bloodstream than those that are acne free. In addition people with severe acne also tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin E.

Hygiene
Acne is not caused by dirt. This misconception probably comes from the fact that blackheads look like dirt stuck in the openings of pores. The black color is not dirt but simply oxidized keratin. The blockages of keratin that cause acne occur deep within the narrow follicle channel, where it is impossible to wash them away. These plugs are formed by the failure of the cells lining the duct to separate and flow to the surface in the sebum created there. Built up oil of the skin can block the passages of these pores, so standard washing of the face could wash off old oil and help unblock the pores.

Treatments
The treatment for acne must unplug the pores, kill the bacteria, reduce the excessive oils and reduce inflammation. Many acne products provide more than one benefit helping to simplify the treatment. A combination of treatments can greatly reduce the amount and severity of acne in many cases. We recommend a combination of acne products from Dr. Denese and SkinCeuticals used with the Clarisonic Skin Care Brush and the use of Mineral Makeup for a finish that will help heal your skin.

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