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Acne is a skin disorder that is the result from the combination of the action of hormones and other substances upon the hair follicles and oil glands of the skin. The skin’s oil glands of the skin are known as sebaceous glands. Acne lesions are plugged pores, commonly referred to as pimples and zits. Acne usually appears on the face, neck, shoulders, chest and back. Acne is not a serious physical health threat. It can result in severe emotional distress and permanent scarring.

Acne Skin diseases

Acne results when a bacteria called Propionibacterium Acnes (P.Acnes) grow in pilosebaceous units (PSUs). PSUs are located on the skin on most of the body. PSUs consist of the sebaceous gland connect to a follicle or canal. The canal contains a fine hair, like fine facial hair. The concentration of the body’s PSUs appears on the face, upper back and chest. Sebum is an oil produced by the sebaceous glands, that normally drains onto the surface of the skin through the pore. The cells that line the canal or follicle are called kerantiocytes.

A plug is produced by the hair sebum and keratinocytes resulting in the first sign of acne. The plug blocks the sebum or oil from reaching the skin surface via the pore. The grouping of oil and cells are unfortunately, an excellent host for the bacteria: Propionibacterium acnes – which normally live on the surface of the skin. The bacterium attracts white blood cells causing inflammation. They also produce chemicals and enzymes. Inflammation is characterized by four indicators – swelling, redness, pain and heat. When the follicle wall breaks down, the sebum, skin cells and bacterium ooze in to the skin, resulting in lesions and pimples.

There are three types of zits or pimples. All named comedo - or an engorged and blocked hair follicle. The three types of pimples are Microcomedo, Open Comedo and Closed Comedo. A Microcomedo is the initial stage of a pimple or zit – when it first appears. As the follicle or pore becomes more blocked – if forms one of the two types of pimples, either an Open Comedo or a Closed Comedo. A Closed Comedo is when the plugged follicle, consisting of sebum, bacterium and white blood cells, stay beneath the surface. A Closed Comedo produces a white bump often referred to as a whitehead. An Open Comedo is when a plugged follicle’s sebum, bacterium and white blood cells reach the surface of the skin. It is called a black head because it looks black. The discoloration is not due to dirt. It is simply the reaction of the sebum when it reaches air. Whiteheads and black heads may stay in the skin for a long time.

There are four other lesions that can be more irritating that the Comedo. They are known as Papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.

The cause of acne is not known. It is believed by doctors that it is the result of several conditions. One noted factor is the increase of male sex hormones called androgens. These hormones increase in both boys and girls during puberty. Pregnancy and starting or stopping the birth control pill also can cause acne. Genetics also seem to be a factor in acne. Teenagers who develop acne often have parents who have suffered from acne as well. Lithium is also known to cause acne. Certain greasy cosmetics may alter cells within the follicles, causing them to stick and form a plug.

These conditions make acne worse: hormone changes in women 2 – 7 days before menstruation, oil from skin products, grease from the workplace, pressure from sports equipment, pollution, high humidity, picking at zits, harsh skin cleansers and stress. Over eighty percent of the world’s population between the age of 12 and 30 has at least one outbreak of acne.

Doctors who specialize in skin problems are called dermatologists. They treat all levels of acne and particularly harsh cases. Pediatricians and general practitioners may treat the milder cases of acne. Acne should be treated by first healing lesions. The next treatment steps should involve stopping new lesions from scarring. Stopping new lesions from occurring is the last step. Drugs used to treat acne are prescribed to reduce these combinations of factors – clumping of follicle cells, increased oil or sebum production, production of bacterium and inflammation.

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