Acne is a skin condition that normally occurs in adolescents. Acne can be a miserable condition and even in its milder forms can seriously affect the life of the sufferer. When a person has acne the pores and the skin become inflamed. It is generally the pores and hair follicles that are affected in the early stages of acne, either because the body is producing too much sebum or glandular oils or because there is a blockage in the pores.
When skin is healthy oil comes to the surface of the skin and drains away. Propionabacterium acnes is a natural bacteria present in the oil glands, if these get smaller in size or become blocked, the bacteria multiplies underneath the skin. Most common, non-inflammatory acne types start this way it is not the bacteria as such that causes the problem, but the fact that it’s retained in the glands and multiplies.
There are a number of different types of acne and they vary considerably in their symptoms and their severity. Common types of acne can lead to more severe cases if they are left untreated. The types of acne are referred to as acne vulgaris, acne rosacea, cystic acne, nodular acne, acne inversa and hormonal acne. We’ll deal with each type of acne below.
Acne Vulgaris is one of the most common types of acne and affects both teenagers and adults. A typical, mild form of acne vulgaris is the common blackhead. The primary cause of acne vulgaris is the over production of oil from the sebaceous glands, often at the onset of puberty, but there are other causes of this type of acne. Acne vulgaris can be mild or severe and each one is the result of different pathogens that need to be identified. The development of blackheads and whiteheads is a sign of the mild form of acne vulgaris and these are generally easier to deal with.
Severe acne vulgaris is considerably worse than its mild form and may present in a number of ways. The degrees of severity of acne vulgaris can be classified in the following way:
- acne presents as blackheads and whiteheads
- acne also includes papules and pustules
- this level usually presents as nodules
- the severest form presents as cysts
There are a number of things that can cause acne rosacea. Some people will experience a flare of acne as the result of exposure to the sun or even a hot bath, in others the skin may become inflamed due to hot drinks and spicy foods. Outbreaks of the condition may also occur as a result of over exposure to wind and cold or through using certain skincare products. Acne rosacea has little in common with the more usual form of acne vulgaris; it tends to affect people with a fair skin and is not infectious or contagious. Unlike acne vulgaris, which is often temporary, acne rosacea is seen as permanent condition that flares up from time to time.
Acne rosacea presents as tiny blood vessels and reddish spots in certain areas of the body. In some people the condition also causes reddish acne cysts, eye irritation and small bumps. When a sufferer has pink or red patches on their face this type of acne is known as pyoderma faciale. The condition is more severe than acne vulgaris and thus harder to treat.
Nodular acne is a type three classification of acne vulgaris and is an inflammatory condition that is the result of the rupturing of pustules or papules under the skin, which then allows pus into the dermis. Contamination of the dermis results in a hardening of the lesions, which then become what are referred to as nodules. The nodules in this form of acne may become uneven or swollen and penetrate deep into the skin untreated nodules may harm the skin tissue and deep scarring is the result. Unlike acne vulgaris, this type of acne may be extremely painful.
Cystic acne is the worst form of acne and begins with what are called nodules that develop underneath the surface of the person’s skin, squeezing these lesions may result in permanent scarring and painful consequences for the sufferer. Cystic acne occurs when nodular acne ruptures and releases pus into the skin, this causes the rapid growth of bacteria producing greater inflammation which the body tries to fight off. Because the formation of cysts is a result of the immune system attempting to slow down the infection, it sets up a seemingly vicious cycle.
Acne Inversa is sometimes referred to as hidradenitis suppurativa is an extremely severe inflammatory condition of the skin. While the condition is referred to as acne, it is not really an acne condition but occurs due to a malfunction of the sweat glands, which features symptoms that are similar to those of acne. The condition is a result of a blockage of the sebaceous glands and the hair follicles with dead skin cells. These things then become lodged under the skin and invade the surrounding tissue, in the early stages this causes blackheads and abscesses which develop into lumps filled with pus. The process can result in draining lesions that can reach an enormous size.
Hormonal acne is a condition that normally occurs in adolescents between the ages of twelve and fifteen and is the result of an imbalance of hormones in the body. The acne that occurs as result of this imbalance generally disappears over time and seldom lasts beyond the early twenties. While the condition can occur in older people the symptoms are usually a lot less severe in adolescents than in older adults. The production of androgens is what causes an imbalance in the hormonal makeup of the body and causes a buildup of sebum. The oil gathers in the hair follicles and blocks the pores, which causes the growth of bacteria and results in an eruption of spots, pimples and pustules.