Acne is a disease that involves the oil glands of the skin. It is not dangerous, but can leave skin scars. Your skin has pores (tiny holes) which connect to oil glands located under the skin. The glands are connected to the pores via follicles - small canals. Sebum, an oily liquid, is produced by these glands. The sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of your skin. A small hair grows through the follicle out of the skin. Pimples grow when these follicles get blocked.
Pimples appear mostly on the face, back, chest, shoulders and neck. Acne develops when follicles get blocked and infected.
Various types of pimples
Whiteheads - remain under the skin and are very small.
Blackheads - clearly visible, they are black and appear on the surface of the skin. Remember that a blackhead is not caused by dirt. Scrubbing your face vigorously when you see blackheads will not help.
Papules - visible on the surface of the skin. They are small bumps, usually pink.
Pustules - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are red at their base and have pus at the top.
Nobules - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are large, solid pimples. They are painful and are embedded deep in the skin.
Cysts - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are painful, and are filled with pus. Cysts can easily cause scars.
What causes acne?
Hormonal activity, such as menstrual cycles and puberty, may contribute to the formation of acne. During puberty, an increase in male sex hormones called androgens cause the follicular glands to grow larger and make more sebum.
Development of acne vulgaris in later years is uncommon, although this is the age group for rosacea, which may have similar appearances. True acne vulgaris in adult women may be a feature of an underlying condition such as pregnancy and disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome or the rare Cushing's syndrome.
The tendency to develop acne runs in families. For example, school aged boys with acne often have other members in their family with acne. A family history of acne is associated with an earlier occurrence of acne and an increased number of retentional acne lesions.
While the connection between acne and stress has been debated, scientific research indicates that "increased acne severity" is "significantly associated with increased stress levels." The National Institutes of Health (USA) list stress as a factor that "can cause an acne flare." A study of adolescents in Singapore "observed a statistically significant positive correlation […] between stress levels and severity of acne." It is also not clear whether acne causes stress and thus perpetuates itself to some extent.
Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is the anaerobic bacterium species that is widely concluded to cause acne, though Staphylococcus epidermidis has been universally discovered to play some role since normal pores appear colonized only by P.acnes. Regardless, there are specific clonal sub-strains of P.acnes associated with normal skin health and others with long-term acne problems. It is as yet inconclusive whether any of these undesirable strains evolve on-site in the adverse conditions or are all pathogenically acquired, or possibly either depending on the individual patient.
A high glycemic load diet is associated with worsening acne. There is also an association between the consumption of milk and the rate and severity of acne. Other associations such as chocolate and salt are not supported by the evidence. However, products with these ingredients often contain a high glycemic load.
What can make acne worse?
- Menstrual cycle - Girls and women with acne tend to get it worse one or two weeks before their menstrual period arrives. This is probably due to hormonal changes that take place
- Anxiety and stress - mental stress can affect your levels of some hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn can make acne worse. Again, stress can make some people binge-eat
- Hot and humid climates - when it is hot and humid we sweat more. This can make the acne worse.
- Oil based makeups - moisturizing creams, lubricating lotions, and all makeup that contain oil can speed up the blocking of your pores.
- Greasy hair - some hair products are very greasy and might have the same effect as oil based makeup. Hair products with cocoa butter or coconut butter are examples.
- Squeezing the pimples - if you try to squeeze pimples your acne is more likely to get worse, plus you risk scarring.
Dos and don'ts
The face should be scrubbed several times daily with a warm washcloth to remove skin oils and keratin plugs. The rubbing and heat of washcloth help dislodge the keratin plug.
- Soap will help remove skin oil and will decrease the number of bacteria living on the skin.
- Diet is not an important factor in most cases, but if certain foods tend to aggravate the problem, avoid them.
- Do not pick or squeeze acne lesions, which ruptures glands and spreads sebum into the skin, increasing symptoms.
- Makeup, greasy hair preparations, or tight sweatbands can plug ducts of glands and increase comedone formation. Avoid these if possible.
- An abrasive soap maybe used from one to three times daily to reduce further oiliness in the skin and remove the keratin plugs from the follicles.
- Medications containing benzoyl peroxide are now widely available without prescription. Use it as directed and can be used in mild acne cases only.
- No acne treatment works immediately. Topical acne preparations work by unplugging glands. You must use them consistently to make them effective.
Home Remedies for Acne
Lemon juice applied regularly on acne reduces it effectively. The Vitamin C in it does the trick. Lemon juice mixed with same amount of mint will also reduce inflammation.
Coriander and Mint:
Coriander and Mint used together is good for Acne treatment – Coriander juice to which a pinch of turmeric is added is a very effective home remedy for acne. It should be applied at night after washing the face thoroughly. It must be kept overnight.
Orange Peel is also a good remedy for Acne treatment – Crushed orange peel with water base applied on acne is effective. Face scrub made of orange peels and gram flour is also effective.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a pale yellow to nearly colorless essential oil, derived from the leaves of the plant ‘Melaleuca alternifolia’. You can use it by adding 3 to 4 drops of this oil to ½ cup of water. Apply this solution with a cotton swab on affected areas. Keep it for 15 minutes. Tea tree oil is famous for it’s anti bacterial and anti-inflammatory actions.
You can use this by mixing with aloe vera gel also.
Honey fights inflammations. It can help you to reduce your acne inflammations and swellings. Apply honey directly on your face and leave it for 20 minutes. You can use honey with lemon also. Mix 1 Tsp of honey with a tsp lemon juice. Apply it on your face and leave it for 20 minutes then wash off. You can do it alternate days.
Papaya is one of the great skin remedy. Papaya facial masks can help you to reduce the inflammation and redness caused by pimples. It can cure your acne also.
Take a piece of ripen papaya; mix it with 2 Tsp of honey to make a paste. Apply it on your face and leave it for 15 minutes. This facial can make your face glowing.
Aloe is one of the most used beauty care herb. It can heal and fight inflammation and thus removing the scars.
Scrape out the juicy thing from aloe vera. Apply it on your face directly. Keep it there for a few minutes.
Lutein contained in banana peel is extremely powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Rub the banana peel on your face directly in circular motion. Keep it there for 30 minutes and wash it off.
Avocados are famous for facial masks. Yes, You can use avocado honey facial masks to treat your acne.
Make a paste with a piece of avocado and 2 Tsps of honey. Apply this on your face and leave it for 20 minutes.
Phototherapy; Blue and red light
Light exposure has long been used as a short-term treatment for acne. Recently, visible light has been successfully employed to treat mild to moderate acne (phototherapy or deep penetrating light therapy) - in particular intense violet light (405–420 nm) generated by purpose-built fluorescent lighting, dichroic bulbs, LEDs or lasers. Used twice weekly, this has been shown to reduce the number of acne lesions by about 64% and is even more effective when applied daily. The mechanism appears to be that a porphyrin (Coproporphyrin III) produced within P. acnes generates free radicals when irradiated by 420 nm and shorter wavelengths of light. Particularly when applied over several days, these free radicals ultimately kill the bacteria. Since porphyrins are not otherwise present in skin, and no UV light is employed, it appears to be safe, and has been cleared for marketing by the U.S. FDA.
In many cases homeopathy has permanent solution for Acne