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Acne or pimples are a common skin condition affecting many people at some stage of their lives. Acne is a type of inflammatory disease that affects the sebaceous glands (oil glands). Most people develop acne during their teenage years, but it can occur at any time after the onset of puberty. The spots vary in appearance from mild to severe, and there are different types of pimples. Let’s know about acne and the types of acne.
What is acne or pimples?
You may be wondering what acne is and the pimples. “acne” refers to several skin conditions that cause spots or blemishes on your face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders. These include whiteheads, blackheads, papules (red bumps), pustules (pimples), and nodules (large red lumps). You can get acne anywhere on your body with pores, including the: Face: Forehead, cheeks, and chin Scalp Acne occurs when hair follicles become blocked with oil and dead skin cells, which attracts bacteria resulting in inflammation. Pus-filled spots appear on the skin surface, forming inflamed lesions called pimples or ‘zits.’
What are the leading causes of acne or pimples?
Long-term effects of acne is a prevalent skin disease. It generally develops during the teenage years but can occur after puberty begins – even in adults. Acne usually affects areas rich in sebaceous glands – the face, chest, and back. Here are the leading causes of pimples or acne:
1. Sebum – Oil production in the sebaceous glands gets out of control. Usually, this oil lubricates the hair follicles and keeps them clean. However, if too much oil accumulates in the gland, it can spill over onto nearby skin surfaces. The excess sebum clogs up the hair follicle leading to acne or pimples.
2. Hair Follicles – The walls of hair follicles become damaged because of continuous exposure to sebum and bacteria. This results in small ‘micro-cuts on their surface, allowing bacteria to enter and cause an infection (pimples). As a result, redness (inflammation) occurs around each bit of dead skin cell lying inside the pore with reduced blood supply to the follicle. This is why pimples are red, swollen, and filled with pus.
3. Bacteria – The composition of the skin surface changes, which attracts bacteria that usually live on our skin. These bacteria cause acne or pimples by irritating hair follicles and building up inside them. Some people also have Staphylococcus aureus bacteria on their skin without developing acne because it remains dormant in sebaceous glands.
4. Hair growth – As you grow older, your body produces more hormones (such as testosterone) that stimulate the production of male sex cells (androgens). Androgens can lead to excessive hair growth (hirsutism), particularly around the abdomen, chest, upper arms, and face. This also contributes to acne or pimples.
5. Greasy cosmetic products – Some facial creams, moisturizers, and make-up can cause acne because they contain oily ingredients which block up your pores. It’s best to choose oil-free cosmetics that are gentle on the skin rather than harsh cleansers or alcohol-based products that dry out the skin.
6. Hormonal Imbalance- Changes in hormone levels are also seen in pregnant women. This increases the level of hormones that stimulate oil production (androgens), resulting in acne or pimples. Acne can also affect postmenopausal women who have drops in estrogen levels.
7. Hormone changes – Some people develop acne after taking certain medications, such as steroids or oral contraceptives, which alter hormone levels leading to overproduction of sebum and increased growth rate of skin cells inside hair follicles which block them up.
8. Weight – Excessive weight may contribute to oily skin because it leads to the increased amount of fat around your belly region, where most glands responsible for producing sebum live on the skin surface. Extra pounds somehow promote more male hormones, which can result in acne.
9. Stress – Acne may be triggered by stress and fatigue because these increase the levels of adrenal gland hormone (aldosterone), which can lead to more sebum production with overgrowth of skin cells inside your hair follicles blocking them up, resulting in pimples or spots.
10. Other factors – Smoking is also associated with increased oil production (sebum). As it reduces blood supply, it increases the risk of blocked pores leading to acne or pimples. Some people may inherit genes that make them more likely to develop them.
Which is the common site of acne or pimples?
The most common sites for acne are the back and face. However, in adolescent boys, it may also occur in their chest region. Acne can arrive sporadically or in clusters depending on several factors that cause this disorder. It tends to be worse in adolescents than adults because hormone level changes trigger oil production on your skin surface, resulting in pimples when pores get blocked up with excessive sebum production. On average, people develop acne 13 times across their lifetime, when they turn 17 years old (boys) and 14 years old (girls). Acne can strike anyone at any age, but it affects more teenagers than adults, with 90% of all cases occurring during adolescence – between 12 and 24 years old.
Types of acne or pimples:
1. Blackheads: This type of acne or pimples isn’t harmful, but it is unsightly. Blackheads are caused by excessive cosmetics, oily food items, and greasy products that clog up pores with sebum, leading to dead skin cells lodged in the follicle walls. Due to the lack of oxygen, these cells turn dark on exposure to air – appearing black or brown when touched or scratched.
Blackheads occur most frequently on the forehead, nose, and chin areas where there are a large number of oil-producing glands along with hair follicles. It may not be very comfortable, but it’s harmless. You can treat them by cleaning your face well with a unique non-abrasive cleanser before bedtime, so you have a clean canvas every morning. Brush your skin gently with a soft toothbrush to prevent breaking the surface of the skin. Never try to pop blackheads because you can cause nasty infections and scarring, which will leave permanent marks on your face that may require plastic surgery.
2. Whiteheads: This is another common type of acne or pimples when oil-producing glands in your pores secrete too much sebum and dead cells (sebum and white blood cells). The clogged pores turn white due to the absence of oxygen – appearing like tiny pearl beads or milia under magnification by a dermatologist or doctor. These are usually seen in teenagers, but many adults continue to get them well into their 20s, 30s, and even 40s without knowing it’s acne or pimples.
Whiteheads are usually found on the chin, forehead, and nose because these areas contain the most significant number of oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) along with hair follicles. They appear white when touched or scratched because oxygen can’t penetrate them, so they stay white – hence the name. These are common but harmless, and you should not try to pop them as it may cause scarring unless you try using a unique tool called an extractor which dermatologist uses to unblock pores safely during skin treatments for acne.
3. Papules: This type of acne or pimples is considered milder than pustules. It occurs after blackheads due to excessive use of cosmetics, greasy food items, and products that clog up pores with sebum leading to dead skin cells lodged in the follicle walls. Due to the lack of oxygen, these cells turn red on exposure to air – appearing red when touched or scratched.
Pimples are also known as inflammatory acne. Their symptoms include swelling, tenderness, mild pain, localized inflammation/redness due to the accumulation of pus at the base of hair follicles which causes an itchy sensation. They usually occur on the forehead, chin, and nose due to a large number of oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) along with hair follicles there.
4. Pustules: This type of acne or pimples may occur after whiteheads due to excessive use of cosmetics, greasy food items, and products that clog up pores with sebum leading to dead skin cells getting lodged in the follicle walls. Due to the lack of oxygen, these cells turn red on exposure to air – appearing red when touched or scratched.
Pustules are also known as inflammatory acne. Their symptoms include swelling, tenderness, mild pain, localized inflammation/redness due to the accumulation of pus at the base of hair follicles which causes an itchy sensation. They usually occur on the forehead, chin, and nose due to a large number of oil-producing glands (sebaceous glands) along with hair follicles there.
5. Nodules: This type of acne or pimples is considered severe than papules and pustules because it occurs after aggravation of blackheads and whiteheads due to excessive use of cosmetics, greasy food items, and products that clog up pores with sebum leading to dead skin cells getting lodged in the follicle walls. This causes all the symptoms associated with papules and pustules, but it can lead to scarring if left untreated.
A nodule is a painful and deep bump under your skin which you feel when pressure is applied while squeezing or touching it. It appears similar to a large blackhead, except that they are deeper down in the follicles where bacteria have been seen thriving – causing an infection inside your pores or acne spots, leading to inflammation/redness and tenderness, particularly around the chin, nose, forehead, and jaw.
6. Cysts: Cysts are a severe form of nodules caused due to long-term, untreated acne or pimples infection, which has led to deep inflammation and pus accumulation, causing swelling on both sides of your skin. Acne cysts appear round with a diameter ranging from one inch to two inches. They can be deep red – making them challenging to pop, especially when infected by bacteria which causes the surrounding tissue around them to thicken, leading to the formation of scars if left untreated or popped without using sugar or heat probes, or extractors that dermatologists use for unblocking pores safely during skin treatments for acne using different techniques like microdermabrasion/chemical peels/laser therapy/skin needling among others.
How to handle acne or pimples?
1. Avoid squeezing, touching, or popping them as this will lead to more damage and scarring.
2. Keep your skin clean by washing it twice daily with a gentle cleanser/soap that won’t dry out your skin – avoid using toners or astringents which have alcohol in them as they are harsh on the skin, increasing the chances of damaging/scarring your skin if squeezed/popped.
3. Use oil-free moisturizers to provide hydration with no acne comedones triggering ingredients like mineral oil, paraffinum liquidum, petrolatum, among others, or any synthetic chemicals that have comedogenic or clogging properties.
4. Eat healthy with lots of vegetables and fruit rich in antioxidants and supplementing Vitamin A, C, and E, which are known for their acne-fighting properties.
5. See a homeopathy doctor if you have moderate or severe cases of acne – they will be able to prescribe the best treatment that suits your skin type/condition keeping in mind all possible ways in which your acne can flare up due to external factors like stress, hormonal changes, injury, sunlight exposure, etc. among others.
Homeopathic acne treatment has no side effects and costs a fraction of costs incurred if you were to opt for treatments like laser therapy/chemical peels/microdermabrasion etc. – plus homeopathic treatment takes care of all factors that can trigger acne in your skin, making it more at risk of getting affected again.
It is advisable to consult a homeopathy doctor before using any topical or oral medication on your skin that they do not prescribe. They may worsen the condition, and your skin type/condition may not be suitable for such medicines.
The best way to fight acne is by using homeopathic remedies for pimples or acne, as they are suitable for all skin types dealing with mild to moderate cases of acne.
For more information on treating acne naturally, you can book an appointment with a homeopathy doctor through OHO Homeopathy!