Acne affects around 80 percent of adolescents and young adults.
Clogged pores cause acne itself. These may be attributed to:
- excess production of oil (sebum)
- dead skin cells
- ingrown hairs
Identifying which type of acne, you’re experiencing is key to successful treatment. Acne may be noninflammatory or inflammatory. Subtypes of acne within these two categories include:
It’s possible to have multiple types of acne at once
Noninflammatory acne includes blackheads and whiteheads. These normally don’t cause swelling. They also respond relatively well to over-the-counter (OTC) treatments. Salicylic acid is often marketed for acne in general, but it usually works best on noninflammatory acne.
Blackheads occur when a pore is clogged by a combination of sebum and dead skin cells.
Whiteheads can also form when a pore gets clogged by sebum and dead skin cells. But unlike with blackheads, the top of the pore closes up. It looks like a small bump protruding from the skin. Whiteheads are more difficult to treat because the pores are already closed.
Pimples that are red and swollen are referred to as inflammatory acne.
Although sebum and dead skin cells contribute to inflammatory acne, bacteria can also play a role in clogging up pores.
Products containing benzoyl-peroxide may help reduce swelling and get rid of bacteria within the skin. T opical retionoids are also an important part of combatting inflammatory papules and pustules.
Pustules can also form when the walls around your pores break down. Unlike papules, pustules are filled with pus. These bumps come out from the skin and are usually red in color. They often have yellow or white heads on top.
Unlike pustules and papules, nodules are deeper underneath the skin. Because nodules are so deep within the skin, you can’t typically treat them at home. Prescription medication is necessary to help clear these up.
Your doctor or dermatologist will likely prescribe the oral medication isotretinoin (Sotret). This is made from a form of vitamin A and is taken daily for four to six months.
Cysts can develop when pores are clogged by a combination of bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells. The clogs occur deep within the skin and are further below the surface than nodules. These large red or white bumps are often painful to the touch. Cysts are the largest form of acne, and their formation usually results from a severe infection. This type of acne is also the most likely to scar. The prescription medication isotretinoin (Sotret) is commonly used to treat cysts.
Western practices use acupuncture less than in Chinese culture, but with so many sufferers of acne calling out for ways to relieve their symptoms, the procedure is now not uncommon, and western research is emerging with evidence that implies acupuncture can help certain conditions. Some studies carried out in China have suggested that acupuncture can reduce inflammatory lesions and improve acne-sufferers’ quality of life. Other research appears to show that acupuncture stimulation affects areas of the brain known for reducing stress and pain, which promotes a feeling of well-being. Because stress is often linked to acne, this sense of calm could then be responsible for an improvement in the quality of the skin.