What is acne, really? You may think you have the answer to this question, be it from learning about it from infomercials selling acne products or from your friends at school, but you’d be surprised at how much there is to know about acne.
With puberty comes many changes to our bodies. For some people, acne is one of these changes. Our bodies produce the hormone testosterone during puberty. The skin converts the testosterone to dihydrotesterone, causing the skin to secrete oil. Sometimes the oil can block dead skin cells from being shed, causing them to stick together and stay in the pore. This is how acne begins.
Despite what you may have heard about acne, it is actually a skin defect. This defect, called “retention hyperkeratosis”, causes us to produce more skin cells than we can shed. These extra skin cells begin to plug our pores causing blemishes. Not only do oil and skin cells get trapped within the pores, dirt and bacteria also find a home there.
There are two different categories of acne blemishes. These categories are inflamed and not inflamed. Blemishes that are not inflamed can be separated into two types, commonly referred to as “whiteheads” and “blackheads”. A whitehead is simply a pore that has been clogged and the bacteria and debris have no way of escaping. A blackhead is a whitehead that has been opened up and the oxidation of the oils in the skin have caused a blackish coloration.
Inflamed blemishes are the all too familiar pimple and the more bothersome and painful cyst. These occur when a whitehead does not develop into a blackhead and the body begins the inflammatory process to expel it. The body rejects the dead cells, dirt and bacteria and treats it as though it were a foreign invader, doing everything it can to get rid of it.
Some common misconceptions of what causes acne are that oily skin causes acne. While it is understandable that one would think that, it is not entirely true. People with dry skin are just as likely to develop acne as those with oily skin. Chocolate and other greasy, fatty foods do not play any part in the development of acne.
There are many products on the market the promise to cure acne. This is impossible. Acne is not a curable condition. However, the symptoms can be controlled. Acne medications are used to prevent and control acne breakouts, but they will not offer a cure. Over exposure to the sun is also not a cure for acne. You may be thinking “When I sunbathe or work on my tan, the blemishes disappear or get better”. While this may be true, sun exposure does more harm to your skin than good. Exposure to the sun can kill some of the bacteria that causes acne, but will eventually leave you with more blemishes. This is because your skin will produce excess oil to keep from drying out, clogging your pores even more and damaging your skin.
Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Acne [http://acne-guides.com/]