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What is Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, leading to pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. While acne is a prevalent skin problem, there are various types of acne that people may experience. In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of acne and what causes them, as well as tips to prevent them from forming.
Who Does Acne Affect?
Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages and backgrounds, although it is most common during puberty and adolescence. It affects an estimated 85% of people at some point in their lives and can occur on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders. While acne is not a serious health condition, it can be emotionally and psychologically distressing and impact a person’s quality of life.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused by a combination of factors, including excess oil production, clogged pores, inflammation, and the presence of bacteria on the skin. Hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, and genetics can also contribute to the development of acne.
How is Acne Diagnosed?
Acne is typically diagnosed through a physical exam and a discussion of your medical history and symptoms. Your doctor may also perform additional tests or procedures to rule out underlying health conditions that may be contributing to your acne.
How Severe Can Acne Get?
Acne can range from mild to severe, with symptoms ranging from small, occasional pimples to large, painful cysts. In some cases, acne can cause scarring and discolouration of the skin.
How is Acne Treated?
There are several topical and oral treatments available for acne, depending on the severity and type of acne. Topical treatments include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoids, and antibiotics. Oral treatments may include antibiotics, hormonal therapy, or isotretinoin, a powerful medication used to treat severe acne. Your dermatologist can recommend the best treatment options for your individual needs and help you develop a comprehensive plan to manage your acne.
How Long Does it Take for Acne to Go Away?
The duration of acne can vary greatly depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s response to treatment. Mild acne may clear up within a few weeks to a few months with proper treatment, while more severe forms of acne may take several months to a year to fully resolve.
It’s important to note that acne can be a chronic condition and may require ongoing treatment to prevent flare-ups. Additionally, some forms of acne, such as cystic acne, may leave behind scars or dark spots even after the acne itself has cleared. It’s important to work closely with your dermatologist to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and to follow through with the recommended course of treatment to achieve the best possible results.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of acne, it’s important to note that not all acne is created equal. There are actually several different types of acne, each with its own unique set of symptoms and underlying causes. In this article, we’ll explore some common and uncommon types of acne, along with tips on how to prevent and manage them.
Common Types of Acne
Comedonal acne, also known as non-inflammatory acne, is one of the most common types of acne. It appears as small, skin-coloured bumps called comedones, which can be open or closed. Open comedones, also known as blackheads, appear dark due to the oxidization of the oil and dead skin cells within the pore. Closed comedones, also known as whiteheads, are small bumps that appear flesh-coloured or white. Comedonal acne is caused by an excess of oil and dead skin cells clogging the hair follicles.
- Wash your face twice daily with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil and dead skin cells.
- Avoid using comedogenic or oily skincare products that may clog pores (look for non-comedogenic products).
- Use a salicylic acid-based exfoliant to unclog pores and prevent the formation of comedones.
Inflammatory acne occurs when hair follicles become inflamed due to an overgrowth of bacteria within the pores. It appears as red, swollen, and often painful bumps on the skin. Inflammatory acne can be further classified into two types: papules and pustules. Papules are small, raised bumps that are often tender to the touch, while pustules are similar in appearance but contain pus.
- Avoid touching your face or picking at your acne, as this can spread bacteria and worsen inflammation.
- Use skincare products with anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide or benzoyl peroxide to reduce inflammation and prevent the formation of papules and pustules.
- Consult a dermatologist for prescription-strength treatments like topical or oral antibiotics, which can help clear up inflammatory acne.
Cystic acne is a severe form of acne that occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, leading to the formation of large, painful cysts beneath the skin’s surface. It can be a result of hormonal changes, genetics, or a combination of both.
- Consult a dermatologist for prescription-strength treatments like isotretinoin, which can help clear up cystic acne.
- Avoid consuming high-glycemic-index foods like sugar and white bread, as these can exacerbate hormonal imbalances that lead to cystic acne.
- Practice stress-reducing techniques like meditation or yoga, as stress can worsen cystic acne.
Hormonal acne is a type of acne that is triggered by hormonal changes in the body, such as those that occur during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause. It appears as deep, cystic pimples on the lower face, chin, and jawline.
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet that is rich in whole foods and low in processed and sugary foods.
- Manage stress through practices like meditation, yoga, or exercise.
- Consider hormonal birth control or medications that can regulate hormone levels.
Less Common Types of Acne
Fungal acne, also known as pityrosporum folliculitis, is a type of acne caused by an overgrowth of yeast on the skin. It appears as small, uniform, and itchy bumps on the face, chest, or back.
- Use an antifungal shampoo or body wash containing ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione.
- Avoid using heavy oils or moisturisers that can feed the yeast.
- Consider taking probiotics or incorporating foods like yoghurt or kimchi into your diet to promote healthy gut and skin flora.
If you suspect that you have fungal acne, it’s important to consult a dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Fungal acne requires a different approach than traditional acne and may require topical or oral antifungal medications to clear up. With the right treatment and prevention measures, you can manage fungal acne and achieve clear, healthy skin.
Acne mechanica is a type of acne that occurs as a result of friction or pressure on the skin. It commonly affects athletes, especially those who wear tight-fitting clothing or use sports equipment that rubs against the skin.
- Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing while exercising to reduce friction and pressure on the skin.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting hats or headbands that can trap sweat and oil against the skin.
- Wash your skin immediately after exercising to remove sweat and oil buildup that can contribute to acne mechanica.
Acne fulminans is a rare and severe form of acne that typically affects adolescent males. It is characterised by sudden onset of nodular and ulcerative acne, accompanied by fever and joint pain. The exact cause of acne fulminans is unknown, but it is believed to be linked to immune system dysfunction.
- Treatment typically requires prescription-strength medications, including oral corticosteroids or isotretinoin.
- Consult a dermatologist as soon as possible for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Perioral dermatitis is a type of acne that affects the skin around the mouth, nose, and eyes. It appears as small, red bumps or pustules and is often accompanied by itching or burning. The exact cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown, but it is believed to be linked to the use of certain topical creams or cosmetics.
- Avoid using heavy creams or cosmetics around the mouth and nose.
- Use gentle, fragrance-free skincare products.
- Consult a dermatologist for treatment options, including topical or oral antibiotics.
Acne conglobata is a severe form of inflammatory acne that often affects the chest, back, and buttocks. It appears as large, interconnected nodules or cysts and can cause scarring.
- Treatment typically requires prescription-strength medications, including isotretinoin or oral antibiotics.
- Consult a dermatologist for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Acne rosacea is a type of acne that typically affects adults over the age of 30. It appears as redness, flushing, and small red bumps on the face, and can be triggered by a variety of factors, including alcohol, spicy foods, and sun exposure.
- Avoid triggers that can worsen acne rosacea.
- Use gentle, fragrance-free skincare products.
- Consult a dermatologist for treatment options, including topical or oral antibiotics, or laser therapy.
Acne excoriée is a type of acne that is self-inflicted due to excessive picking or scratching of the skin. It appears as red, irritated, and scabbed areas on the face or body.
- Avoid picking or scratching the skin.
- Seek psychological help if you have a compulsion to pick or scratch your skin.
- Use a gentle cleanser and moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated and healthy.
Nuchae Acne keloidalis nuchae is a type of acne that affects the hairline and back of the neck. It appears as small, itchy bumps that can develop into keloid scars over time.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing that can rub against the affected areas.
- Avoid shaving the affected areas.
- Consult a dermatologist for treatment options, including topical or oral medications, or laser therapy.
Please Remember to Love Yourself
Dealing with acne can be emotionally taxing and it’s important to practice self-love and kindness towards yourself. Remember that acne is a common condition that affects many people of all ages and backgrounds. It’s important to not let your skin define your self-worth. Instead, focus on things that make you feel good and confident, such as practising good hygiene, wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable, and engaging in activities that you enjoy. You can also try practising mindfulness, meditation, or other self-care practices to help you cope with stress and anxiety. Remember, treating your acne is important, but so is taking care of your mental health and well-being.
Acne is a common skin condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal imbalances, genetics, and lifestyle habits. By understanding the different types of acne and what causes them, you can take steps to prevent and treat breakouts. By following the prevention tips outlined above and maintaining a consistent skincare routine, you can achieve clearer, healthier skin. However, it’s important to remember that acne can be a persistent and frustrating condition, and it may take time to see improvements. If you’re struggling with acne, don’t hesitate to consult a dermatologist for personalised advice and treatment options. With the right approach, you can manage your acne and feel more confident in your skin.