Acne Causes and Symptoms
Acne is the No. 1 skin problem, especially for teenagers
Acne is the most common skin disease and affects people of every age, race and skin type. It is most common in teens and young adults, but acne can occur at any age. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects almost 85% of people at some time in their lives, and more than 40% of teenagers require professional dermatological treatment by their mid-teens.
Acne suddenly erupts during adolescence because of the sharp increase in hormones that takes place during this time. Almost all teens are affected by acne during these emotionally vulnerable years. Teenagers who suffer from acne may have reduced self-esteem, social distress, anxiety and even depression. Fortunately, virtually any case of acne — from mild to severe — can be controlled with the right acne treatment or combination of treatments.
Although it predominantly affects teenagers, acne is not limited to any particular age group. The truth is that acne can develop or recur in anyone from young children to adults in their 20's, 30's, 40's and beyond.
What are the symptoms of acne?
Acne is a skin condition that shows up as different types of blemishes on the skin. These include both inflammatory and noninflammatory lesions that are usually found on the face, neck, shoulders, back, chest and upper arms.
Blackheads and whiteheads are created when "comedones" — plugs of oil, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria — form on the skin. Blackheads are open at the skin's surface and get their name from the dark appearance of the plug. Whiteheads are closed at the surface and appear as raised, skin-colored bumps.
Inflammatory acne is the more serious form of the disease that should be treated with more attention. Marked by red blemishes, pimples and lumps beneath the skin, inflammatory acne can be painful and embarrassing, greatly affecting your quality of life.
- Papules are small red bumps that become red, swollen and tender. These acne blemishes often precede a pustule.
- Pustules are what we commonly know as "pimples" or "zits." These red, tender bumps contain tips of white pus.
- Nodules are large, hard bumps that are stuck under the skin's surface. They can last for months and cause pain and scarring.
- Cysts also form under the surface of the skin, but are filled with pus. They can be painful and leave behind scars after healing.
If you or a loved one has moderate to severe acne, it pays to let a professional address your condition and its causes. The acne care professionals at Hedden Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, Alabama have the tools and experience to help you achieve a smooth, clear complexion with proven acne treatments customized for you.
What causes acne?
All types of acne develop when pores become clogged. The pores in our skin are connected to glands that produce sebum, an oily substance that helps prevent our hair and skin from drying out. When hormones surge during puberty, the body begins to produce increased amounts of sebum. This causes dead skin cells to clump together and clog pores instead of rising to the surface of the skin as part of the natural shedding process.
In adults, the causes of acne are less clear, though studies have shown stress and hormones to be likely contributors. Women in particular may experience acne outbreaks prior to their period, during pregnancy, during menopause or after discontinuing birth control pills.
The red, swollen and inflamed skin that are the trademark of acne are the result of bacteria levels that increase within clogged pores. The production of excess sebum creates a good environment for bacteria that is normally present on the skin, p. acnes, to rapidly multiply. Acne cysts or nodules — the most severe form of acne — form when the inflammation reaches deep into the skin. This type of inflammatory acne can leave permanent scars.