Acne commonly known as ‘pimples’ is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous unit present in the skin. In mild to moderate cases, there may be black heads (comedones), white heads (papules) or pustules. In severe cases, there are nodules, cysts and abscess which lead to scarring if not treated on time.

Acne is more common in the age group of 13 – 30 years but it may occur or persist even beyond this age limit. Males are more frequently affected than females due to androgen activity. Females may get a pre-menstrual flare due to the increase in level of a hormone called Progesterone.

How do pimples form?

The skin has minute glands called sebaceous glands which open into the hair follicle. These glands secrete an oily substance called sebum, which empties into the skin surface through the hair follicle. During puberty, the male sex hormones which are normally present both in males and females are on the rise and they activate the sebaceous glands to increase in size, which in turn leads to increase in the secretion of sebum. Secondly, the cells are shed more rapidly and they stick together, plugging the opening of the hair follicle, resulting in ‘white heads’. The pigment melanin in the white heads when exposed to air, forms black heads. Thirdly, bacteria especially the ‘propionibacterium acne’ in number and add to the formation of acne. When the follicle gets clogged, its wall ruptures. The sebum, bacteria and dead cells escape into the surrounding tissue and lead to formation of more severe form of acne in form of pustules, nodules, abscesses and cysts.

What are the factors affecting the formation of acne?

Aggravating factors:

  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Polycystic ovarian disease
  • genetic predisposition.
  • Stress
  • Use of cosmetics such as creams, oil based moisturizers, oil based foundations, etc
  • Application of heavy oil or gel on the scalp leads to pimples on the back and forehead.
  • People who work in chemical or oil industries and come in contact with hydrocarbons, heavy oils, and cutting oil, wax, and grease and coal tar derivatives can develop acne.
  • Hot and humid climate.
  • Drugs such as oral contraceptives, steroids, isoniazid, lithium, phenytoin, iodides etc. can cause pimples.
  • Squeezing or picking at a pre-existing lesion will lead to secondary infection and increased pigmentation.

What are the ‘Do’s and Don’ts in treatment of acne?

  • Wash your face with an anti-bacterial face wash at least 2-3 times a day.
  • Increase the intake of citrus fruits such as oranges, grapes, lime and lemon and other food stuff which are high in vitamin C and zinc.
  • Avoid sweet food itmes like chocolate ,pasteries,ice creams or other sweet products
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Do not pick or squeeze the pimples as this causes infection, pigmentation and scarring.
  • Avoid the use of oily cosmetics, cleansing milk and gels.
  • Do not apply excessive hair oil if you have acne over the forehead
  • Avoid stress factors.
  • Be patient and give medicines some time to act. You may have to take antibiotics for 8 – 10 weeks.
  • You may require some treatments also like chemical peel ,derma roller or laser to treat post acne scars and pigmentation.

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