Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin, with a cluster of causes, most of which occur simultaneously. Some of the causes of acne include hyper-seborrhea, hormonal imbalance, follicular hyperkeratinization and changes in the immune mechanism of the body. Unmanaged acne may reduce the quality of life and may lead to scarring.
On the basis of the presence or absence of inflammation, acne is divided into two types:
This type of acne is red and swollen because of inflammation. Following are the different types of inflammatory acne:
- Papules: Also known as pimples or zit, papules are caused when there is a deep rupture in the follicle walls. It is inflamed and usually looks like a red blemish on the skin.
- Pustules: Pustules are filled with the pus. These are formed when bacteria infect the pores and the immune system acts against the infection. Pustules contain fluid and dead white blood cells.
- Nodules: It is a relatively more severe form of acne, characterized by the presence of inflamed and painful lesions on the skin. These occur when the skin is deeply inflamed.
- Cyst: Cystic acne is the most severe type of acne and is not very common. Size of cyst acne is relatively larger than other acne types. Other than on the face, it is also found on the upper trunk and upper arms. Cyst acne is characterized by a large, white, pus-filled bump, which is red and tender to touch.
This type of acne does not have inflammation or redness. Following are the types of non-inflammatory acne:
- Blackheads: Pores are present on the skin. The skin continuously secretes sebum and the layer of the skin also sheds at regular intervals. When the pores of the skin are clogged with debris, sebum or dead cells, little bumps appear. These bumps are known as blackheads as they are black in color. The black color is due to the oxidation of oil in the bump.
- Whiteheads: Whiteheads are also the result of clogging of pore due to debris, oil, and dead cells. Unlike blackheads, they are closed within the pores and, do not come out on the surface. Due to closed pores, the treatment of whiteheads is difficult as compared to blackheads.
The real pictures looks like this
Symptoms depend upon the type of acne affecting the skin. Some cause inflammation while the other causes pus-filled bumps. Following are the symptoms related to acne;
- Redness: The most common symptom of acne is redness. The pimples formed on the skin gives a red color blemish to the skin. This is due to increased blood circulation.
- Inflammation: Inflammation is caused in the acne due to the action of the immune system for killing bacteria. Various inflammatory mediators are produced that acts against infection.
- Pus-filled bumps: Some types of acne are also characterized by the presence of pus-filled bumps. The pus is formed of fluid and dead white blood cells.
- Comedones: Non-inflammatory acne occurs due to the presence of comedones which are either closed or open. Open comedones are known as blackheads while the closed comedones are whiteheads.
- Tenderness: Pus-filled bumps are also the result of acne. These bumps are tender to touch.
- Hereditary: Although there are no genes which are responsible for increased acne, rather some families have the tendency to secrete more sebum as well as shed extra dead cells which causes acne.
- Pollution and dirt: Pollution and dirt clog the pores leading to acne. Exposure to grease or oil may aggravate acne.
- Drugs: Various drugs have acne as their side effects. Steroids and various hormones increase the occurrence of acne.
- Occupation: People engaged in a specific occupation have a high tendency for developing acne. The condition is known as occupational acne and is caused due to coal tar and chlorinated hydrocarbons exposure.
- Cosmetic products: Comedogenic cosmetics clog the pores and cause acne. The cosmetics should not contain high quantity of oil. Cosmetics having aqueous base are more compatible with acne-prone skin.
- Food: Spicy and oily food cause gastric problems which increase the incidence of acne.
- Hormones: Hormones secretion increases during puberty and causes acne due to an increase in sebum production. Further, hormonal changes in females during pregnancy and menstruation also causes acne.
- Smoking: Smoking increases the occurrence of acne by increasing sebum peroxidation and reducing the amount of vitamin E.
- Disease: Disease also causes acne. Acne is caused in conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome or chronic constipation.
- Pressure: Material that creates pressure on the skin tend to clog the pore and cause acne. Such materials include helmet, chin straps, and headband.
Do’s & Don’ts
- Do wash your face with antibacterial soap or benzoyl peroxide wash.
- Do use substances in makeup which are inert such as powder mineral makeup.
- Do apply the topical medication on the whole area and as advised.
- Do apply the medication after washing your face.
- Do get your dandruff managed.
- Do look for products containing salicylic acid.
- Do drink a lot of water.
- Do consume fresh fruit juices.
- Don’t prick your acne.
- Don’t wash your face frequently.
- Don’t use scrubs on your face as this may irritate the acne and may cause inflammation.
- Don’t expose yourself to bright sunlight.
- Don’t use harsh and irritating agents on skin.
- Don’t take the stress.
- Don’t smoke.
Foods to eat
Various foods improve acne and help to detoxify the body. Detoxification helps to remove the waste substance from the body and reduced the occurrence of acne. Following are the foods that should be incorporated into the diet in case of acne:
- Omega-3 fatty acid: Omega-3 fatty acid should be incorporated in the diet.
- Fruits and vegetables: Fresh fruits and fresh juices detoxify the body and reduce the chance of acne.
- Nuts and almonds: These are highly rich in omega-3 fatty acids and helps in fighting against inflammation.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are immunomodulators and help increase the immune system, thus preventing infection from acne bacteria.
Foods to avoid
- High sugary foods: These foods should be avoided as these immediately increase the level of sugar in the blood that may increase the risk of causing an acne flare.
- Milk and dairy product: These products should be consumed in a limited quantity as they may initiate a cascade of reactions that causes acne.
- Chocolate: People prone to acne should avoid eating chocolate.
- Oily and spicy food: Oily and spicy food causes gastric problems which increases the risk of acne.