What is Acne?

Acne is a disorder resulting from the action of hormones and other substances on the skin’s oil glands (sebaceous glands) and hair follicles. Acne is the term for plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms.

Acne affects most teenagers to some extent.  However, the disease is not restricted to any age group; adults in their 20s – even into their 40s – can get acne.

While not a life threatening condition, acne can be upsetting and disfiguring.  When severe, acne can lead to serious and permanent scarring.  Even less severe cases can lead to scarring.

What causes Acne?

Factors that can cause an acne flare include:

  • Changing hormone levels in adolescent girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before their menstrual period starts.
  • Oil from skin products (moisturizers or cosmetics) or grease encountered in the work environment (for example, a kitchen with fry vats).
  • Pressure from sports helmets or equipment, backpacks, tight collars, or tight sports uniforms.
  • Environmental irritants, such as pollution and high humidity.
  • Squeezing or picking at blemishes.
  • Hard scrubbing of the skin.
  • Stress.

What are the symptoms of Acne?

The following are the most common symptoms of acne. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Blackheads.
  • Whiteheads.
  • Pus-filled lesions that may be painful.
  • Nodules (solid, raised bumps).

The symptoms of acne may resemble other skin conditions. Always consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.

What treatment can be done for Acne?

First, take the following self-care steps to lessen the effects of acne:

  • Clean your skin gently with a mild, non-drying soap (like Dove, Neutrogena, or Basics), removing all dirt or make-up. Wash once or twice a day, including after exercising. However, avoid excessively or repeatedly washing the skin.
  • Shampoo your hair daily, especially if your hair is oily. Comb or pull your hair back to keep the hair out of your face. Avoid tight headbands.
  • Try not to squeeze, scratch, pick, or rub the pimples. Although it might be tempting to do this, it can lead to scarring and skin infections.
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands or fingers.
  • Identify and avoid anything that aggravates acne. Your triggers may include foods, lotions, or make-up.
  • Avoid greasy cosmetics or creams. Look for water-based or “non-comedogenic” formulas. Take make-up off at night.

If these steps do not clear up the blemishes to an acceptable level, try over-the-counter acne medications. These creams and lotions, which are applied directly to the skin, may contain benzoyl peroxide , sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid. They work by killing bacteria, drying up the oil, and causing your skin to peel.