Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Acne-Skin Problems-Break Outs-Puberty-Whiteheads-Blackheads

Acne is one of if not the most common skin problem especially in teenagers and young adults. While people will usually “grow out” of this after their teen years it does affect some people their entire life. When I was in High School there was a male student that had a severe case and still today has scarring from it.

When we lived in Silver City NM back in around 1987 one of our friends there had a young daughter who had acne very bad, but we had found some creams that helped her. They have improved the creams and topical treatments now to far surpass what we had back then.

What is Acne?

We see whiteheads, blackheads or even red bumps but what actually happens is that the pores of the skin are being plugged. These plugs can be made up of oils, skin and even germs that get stuck in a hair follicle or pore. The blocked pore swells and reddens then becomes what we see as acne.

It is common for most people to have bouts with acne at sometime during puberty usually between the age of 10 and 14, but acne can also strike adults of any age. Acne is not usually a “health” issue or problem. That is people don’t usually get sick with acne. It does cause a great deal of mental stress, embarrassment and frustration. It has been known to cause depression, sometimes even severe depression that can lead to many other health problems.

What Causes Acne?

During puberty special hormones are created by the body, which cause the body to grow and change quite quickly. These hormones are called androgens. The androgens cause two things to happen in the pores of the body. First they cause the oil glands to produce more oil known as sebum. The second thing attributed to androgens is they cause the skin to grow faster and shed quicker.

Theory is that the sebum mixed with the skin flakes form a sticky plug which clogs the pores. This is what we call acne. Certain medications can also lead to acne. Young girls may find their acne worse during and prior to their menstrual period. The propensity for having acne breakouts could be worse if at least one of your parents have had acne.

Acne is not caused by dirty skin or poor hygiene as many people think. Dirt does not cause acne. Even so keeping your skin clean and dry will likely help rid you of any pimples quicker than if you do have poor hygiene. Even though I am sure you have heard it many times Acne is not considered to be caused by the oil on the skin’s surface, food or stress.

What are the signs and symptoms of Acne?

Acne usually breaks out on the face but can also be on the neck, shoulders, chest, arms, and even the buttocks. You may notice different types of acne sores on the face and body. It can be found both on and under the skin surface. A small plug could fill in the pore just below the skins surface and form a “whitehead”. It could also come to the top and open up making it appear dark and we sometimes refer to these as “blackheads”. It could also manifest itself as a large hard painful lump deep below the skin and is usually pus-filled.

What are common treatments?

First do not scrub, pick, squeeze or pop acne lesions. This can increase inflammation and lead to scarring.

Second try to spend some time in the sunlight. Sunlight seems to help, however don’t overdue it. Overexposure to the sun could cause other problems.

Third eat a well balanced healthy diet. Include as much healthy fruits and vegetable as possible.

Medically there is no cure for Acne; however it can usually be controlled with creams, gels, and lotions. Severe cases may need antibiotics. Birth control pills have also been used in the treatment of acne.

There are remedies such as cell growth modifiers that are made from Vitamin A which help decrease follicle plugging. Cell growth modifiers should not be used during pregnancy.

While eating certain foods has not been proven to make acne worse there are some indications that foods such as chocolate may indeed cause flare-ups in certain individuals. You will have to test to find out which food if any that is for you then refrain from eating that particular food. Eating a good healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables will help strengthen the immune system and make you feel better and may also help acne heal faster.

There are certain herbs and supplements that have been used to help relieve acne symptoms successfully. You should check with a professional before using these treatments. Here is just a short list of possible herbs that a caregiver may suggest. Tea tree oil (Melaleaca alternifolia) 5% applied twice daily. Some people may develop dermatitis from the oil so use carefully.

Lecithin applied topically can help decrease acne. Phosphatidycholine applied topically can also help. Vitamin A can be used but is often used in high doses which can be dangerous especially in pregnant women. Zinc taken by mouth may also be helpful.

Acne when not treated can become or lead to serious problems, While some of these problems are just “cosmetic” it can also lead to depression which could lead to other problems, so it is important to not only treat the disease of acne but to also know how the person with acne feels and how they are handling the mental aspect of acne.

Here are some places to get more information about Acne

AAD: AnceNet website American Academy of Dermatology American Academy of Pediatrics Disclaimer: Nothing in this report should be construed as medical advice. If you are ill or injured see a primary healthcare provider as soon as possible. If the injury or illness is severe go to the nearest Emergency Room

Jerry Goodwin has been certified as a Medical Technologist since 1977. He is also certified as a Personal Trainer, Cardiovascular Trainer and Medical exer-therapist. He is a Veteran of the US Navy having served during the Viet Nam era. Jerry also served in the Army National Guard in Ohio, Texas, Kansas and Georgia as a field medic with Infantry, Armored Cavalry, Artillery and Mechanized Infantry Units. He has earned several medals including the Army Commendation Medal. Jerry is the editor of Body Mind and Goals Ezine and the owner of BMG Services Fitness and Nutrition at