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Acne: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


    Acne Meaning

    Acne is a chronic, fiery skin condition that happens when your hair follicles get blocked with oil and dead skin cells which causes spots, pimples, blisters, whiteheads, clogged pores especially on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms, etc.


    It mostly affects Adolescents during puberty because of hormonal changes, However, it can upset at any age. The prior you begin treatment, the lower will be the risk. Acne Scars can cause emotional distress, an individual can go for acne scar removal treatment to get rid of acne scars. 

    The clogged pores can cause acne as sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands) connected to pores and secrete oil that naturally hydrates skin.

    When this gland produces an excess of oil, dead skin cells and debris can fuse with the oil and develop skin breakouts. This condition turns into a ground for bacteria, that causes the redness and swelling associated with skin breakouts likely to cause pain if touched, keeping hand away from them can prevent it from spreading.

    Acne overview

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    Acne Causes

    These factors can cause or trigger acne:

    • Excess oil production
    • Hair follicles blogged by oil and dead skin cells
    • Bacteria build up in pores
    • Hormonal changes
    • Emotional distress

    Acne Symptoms

    Acne signs and symptoms may vary depending on the severity of your skin condition:
    • Whiteheads are tiny white bumps that have closed clogged pores
    • Blackheads with open pores at center
    • Small red, tender bumps (also called papules) filled with pus
    • Pimples are small hard inflamed spot on the skin
    • Pus-filled lumps or nodules under the surface of the skin

    Acne Types

    The following are common types of acne:
    • Acne vulgaris is a skin disease that occurs when hair follicles get clogged with dead skin cells and oil.
    • Papules are small red bumps on the skin.
    • Nodules are a painful lump that contains pus.
    • Cystic acne is a large lump found under the skin and contain pus and are painful.
    • Whiteheads are tiny white bumps that have closed clogged pores
    • Blackheads with open pores at center
    4 types of acne

    Acne Treatment

    To figure out the best acne treatment it is very important to understand the acne meaning, its severity, and the acne causes. If you have mild acne and occasional breakouts, you may self diagnose your skin and use the right acne cream, acne face wash, acne gel, and any other products, home remedies and follow proper acne treatment routine.

    If you have used over-the-counter acne products for several weeks and it hasn’t helped and made your acne worse, consult a dermatologist to avoid acne scars or any damage to your skin and to make acne scars less visible.

    Acne Treatment

    At the time of skin Consultation, Dermatologist will closely exam the acne and might question about medical history, past acne breakouts and women will be asked about the menstrual cycles to determine if hormones are playing a significant impact on acne. Though the treatment will depend on age, the type and severity of acne.

    The symptoms and observations made during the exam might show the health issues that require different treatment plans. Doctor or dermatologist may run multiple tests to identify the disease or illness that could be the root cause of skin infection. It is advised that pregnant women shouldn’t use oral prescription medication for acne.

    Consult your dermatologist to know the acne causes, risks, and benefits of the medication and the treatment.

    Risk factors involved in Acne

    • Age: Acne can occur to people irrespective of their age group
    • Hormonal changes: It is common in women, children, girls caused by puberty or pregnancy.
    • Hereditary:  Family History plays a vital role in acne. If both parents have acne, they are high chances to develop it.
    • Greasy or oily substances: There are high chances of developing acne if skin comes into contact with oily lotion and cream.
    • Friction or pressure on the skin:  Pressure or friction to acne prone skin causes infection Eg: contact with phones, helmet, tight collars, etc.
    • Stress: Stress may not cause acne, but if a person is already suffering from acne, it may get worse.

    Home Remedies for Acne

    • Apple Cider Vinegar can be applied to affected skin as fights many types of bacteria and acne.Acne Home Remedies
    • Tea Tree oil for acne treatment has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the redness of pimples and kills and the bacteria that causes acne.
    • Jojoba Oil, the sticky substances in the jojoba oil help to repair damaged skin and speed up to heal wound including acne.
    • Aloe vera has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the appearance of acne and prevent acne breakouts.
    • Honey is used to treat skin infections such as acne as it comprises many antioxidants that help to clear dirt and debris from clogged pores.
    • Green Tea has the antioxidant property that breaks down chemicals and waste products that can damage healthy cells and clear dirt and debris that have built up across acne sores.
    • Coconut Oil is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds that destroy acne-causing anti bacteria compounds.

    Acne Medications

    These are the most commonly prescribed medications for Acne:

    • Retinoids and retinoid-like drugs: It mostly comes as an acne cream, gels, and lotions. This can be applied in the evening, beginning with three times a week, then daily as skin becomes used to it. It prevents by plugging of the hair follicles.
    • Antibiotics:  For severe to moderate acne treatment it works by killing bacteria and reducing redness.  For the initial months of treatment, you can use both a retinoid and an antibiotic, with the antibiotic applied in the morning and the retinoid in the evening. The antibiotics are mostly combined with benzoyl peroxide to prevent the likelihood of developing antibiotic resistance. Example:  Clindamycin with Benzoyl peroxide Benzaclin, Duac, Acanya) and Erythromycin with Benzoyl peroxide (Benzamycin). Topical antibiotics alone are not recommended.
    • Salicylic acid and azelaic acid: Its antibacterial properties make it the most effective treatment for acne without causing damage to the skin. It also reduces redness and calms skin inflammation as pores open up and clear out. Salicylic acid helps to prevent plugged hair follicles and is available as both wash-off and leave-on products. It can be used twice a day for at least four weeks.
    • Dapsone:  Dapsone (Aczone) 5 percent gel twice in a day daily is recommended for acne infection, especially in adult females with acne. The side effects may include redness and dryness.
    • Benzoyl Peroxide:  For mild acne, the doctor may recommend a nonprescription drug that contains benzoyl peroxide. It is believed that it kills bacteria associated with acne.  It mostly takes at least four weeks to treat acne and should be used continuously.

    Acne Therapies

    These therapies might be suitable in suggested in a few selected cases, either alone or it may be a combination with medications.
    • Lasers and photodynamic therapy. This is a light-based therapy that has been tried with some success. However, further study is needed to find the ideal method, light source, and dose.
    • Chemical peel. This procedure includes repeated applications of a chemical solution, such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid or retinoic acid.  However, improvement in acne is not long lasting and may appear again that leads to repeat treatment.
    • Extraction of whiteheads and blackheads. The doctor might use special tools to gently remove whiteheads and blackheads that haven’t cleared up with topical medications. This technique may lead to a scar.
    • Steroid injection. Nodular and cystic lesions are treated by injecting a steroid drug directly into them. This therapy resulted in rapid improvement and less pain. Side effects may include thinning in the treated area.

    Acne Prevention

    Acne prevention plays a crucial role in reducing acne by following good basic skin care,  and other self-care techniques to get clear and healthy skin:

    • Use a mild cleanser twice a day to get rid of excess oil, dirt and dead cells.
    • Try over-the-counter acne products containing (benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or alpha hydroxy acids) to get rid of excess oil and promote peeling.
    • Avoid oily or greasy cosmetics, sunscreen, and concealer, etc.
    • Protect your skin from the sun.
    • Avoid pressure or friction to acne prone skin Eg: contact with phones, helmet, tight collars, etc.
    • Refrain touching the acne prone area as it can lead to more infection.
    • Avoid picking, squeezing or popping pimples. It can lead to scarring and skin infection.
    • Remove makeup before sleeping.
    • Drink more Water.
    • Avoid Oily Food.
    • Keep your hair oil-free and clean as possible and never sleep with oil on your hairs.
    benefits of drinking water

    Acne Facts vs Acne Myths

    Facts on Acne
    • Acne is a skin infection that involves the oil glands at the base of hair follicles.
    • Acne can occur at any age.
    • Acne is not a fatal disease but can leave a scar on the skin.
    • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease.
    • Risk factors involve genetics. The menstrual cycle, stress, and anxiety, climates, using oil-based makeup and squeezing pimples.
    • Acne prone skin needs moisturizing.
    • Squeezing or Popping of acne can worsen the skin condition.
    • Steroid Injections are used to treat stubborn, large acne cysts.
    facts and myths
    Myths on Acne
    • Adults don’t get acne is not at all true as acne can occur at any age irrespective of age group.
    • Avoid using Abrasive Products is actually a myth. Usage of abrasive product is good for oily skin to exfoliate once a week to remove dead skin.
    • Acne affects women more than men.
    • Acne is Contagious is a myth. However, it cannot spread from person to person.
    • Makeup can worsen the acne is so untrue.  Most of the people conceal their spots using makeup as it provides them self-confidence. However, it is important to choose the right products for oily and blemish prone skin.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    To prevent acne, you need to follow these skincare regimen:

    • Wash your face and apply over-the-counter topical benzoyl peroxide gel since it has a proven record of treating acne.
    • The light therapy works best for sensitive and acne-prone skin by eliminating acne-causing bacteria quickly.
    • Stay Moisturized to get relief from acne as hydrated complexion is crucial in fighting acne.
    • Treat acne spots with Tea Tree oil (diluted with water), can fight and reduce skin inflammation.
    • Use Aloe vera gel on affected areas since it fights bacteria, reduce inflammation and heal the skin.
    • Use Benzoyl Peroxide product as it kills acne-causing bacteria, reduces the pimple size, and open the pores and cures cystic acne.
    • Wear a honey mask, honey has an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent, it clears the clogged pores and removes dirt and excess oil from the skin.
    • Washing your face too frequently can dry out the skin and produces more oil to make up for that dryness.
    • Squeezing Pimples can lead to acne scars and can worsen the breakouts.
    • Treating Dandruff is very important as it contributes to acne. Use a fragrance-free dandruff shampoo that contains zinc, ketoconazole or salicylic to get rid of dandruff and acne breakout on your skin.
    • Stopping acne treatment too early is a big mistake. Many products may claim overnight results however, stopping the medication immediately can lead to future acne breakouts. A person should continue the medication for 6-8 weeks to see the improvement and avoid future breakouts.

    Acne is a temporary problem but the acne scars can be permanent and embarrassing. Mild scars can be treated by using over-the-counter products However, consult a dermatologist in case of severe scarring and can ask for chemical feel, to remove the upper layer of skin from your face and the other available option which is laser therapy that can make the smoothen the skin surface and reduce the appearance of deep acne scars.

    Healing acne takes time and may not have an immediate effect, even for milder acne. It can be prevented by getting rid of excess oil, dirt, and sweat from a face and by following regular skin care regime such as washing your face twice a day, stay hydrated, avoid scrubbing acne-prone areas, limit sun exposure, avoid popping or squeezing a pimple.

    The prescribed acne medication works differently on every individual depending on types of acne, acne severity, etc. The dermatologist should be able to tell you what to expect since they will monitor your progress and suggest you how long you need to continue the acne medication. It takes 8-12 weeks of time since it requires a little time for the antibacterial properties to kill the bacteria in the skin and visibly improve.

    The best acne treatment for mild acne for these skin areas should contain salicylic acid which is more economical for treating larger areas.  A dermatologist may prescribe a topical antibiotic.

    Cystic acne is a most severe type of skin breakout in which the pores in the skin get blocked by excess oil, dead cells, and bacteria and may lead to painful lesions, blackheads, whiteheads, aggravation, and scars. It is the most extreme form and affects far fewer individuals and may vary from patient-to-patient and the same treatment may not work for everyone.

    There are many causes that can lead to Skin breakouts:
    • Genetics: Cystic acne can be Hereditary and run in the family. If your family member suffered from cystic acne, then you are more likely to develop some painful acne.
    • Hormones: When Androgen hormones release excess sebaceous glands (oil), which may block pores and traps the bacteria and causes cystic acne.  Because of this, you may suffer from severe breakout during puberty, and a few days before each period.
    • Stress: When Stress level rises, your body responds by producing cortisol, and another hormone that overstimulates your oil glands.
    • Lack of sleep:  Lack of sleep can worsen the acne as your body raises your cortisone levels to compensate and this could lead to a breakout.
    • Lifestyle:  Your lifestyle habits can affect acne, consider changing your daily actions by eating a healthier diet, getting more sleep, and reducing stress can prevent acne.

    Acne can occur on cheeks due to many reasons:

    • Contact with the polluted air
    • Allergies
    • Excess oil production in the skin
    • Diet (too much of sugar consumption, fried and oily food)
    • Hormonal Changes
    • Bacteria build up in skin pores

    Makeup can be applied on the skin with one requirement you should always wipe off or remove the makeup from your face before going to bed and avoid cosmetics with greasy or oily substances that can clog open pores and cause to acne breakout.

    Stress can cause hormone imbalance leading to sudden surges of oil and follicle inflammation which causes a sudden acne breakout.

    During menstruation, large quantities of female hormones are secreted, resulting in stimulation of sebum secretion. It can get worse before your period begins since the secretion of female hormones is at its height.

    The aim of treating acne scars is to normalize the acne, focus on lightening pigmentation and unevenness of the skin whereas the acne treatment focuses on the reduction of skin inflammation, reduces the vigorous secretion of sebum and kill bacteria.

    Medicover Hospitals Dermatology Department:

    Dermatology is the specialization in both medical and surgical aspects of dealing with skin, hair, and its diseases.  A dermatologist is a specialist doctor that manages skin disease, cosmetic problems of the skin, hair problems, and nails.

    Medicover Hospitals has a well-renowned team of skin specialists’ that offers acne, Hair loss treatment, Skin diseases treatment, laser, and skin Treatments.

    About Our Dermatologist:

    Dr. B. Vijaya Sree

    • MD, DVL
    • Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetologist & Trichologist
    •   Mon – Sat: 10 AM – 4 PM*
    •   Hitech city, Madhapur


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