Acne Vulgaris - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

By: Juliet Cohen

Acne vulgaris and acne is a skin problem. Some people call it blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or zits. Acne vulgaris is an inflammatory disease of the skin.. Acne has been implicated in psychiatric and psychological processes more than most other dermatological conditions. Most young people get at least mild acne. It usually gets better after the teen years. But many adult women do have acne in the days before their menstrual periods. Acne is most common in teenagers, but it can happen at an age, even as an infant. Three out of four teenagers have acne to some extent, probably caused by hormonal changes that stimulate oil production. However, people in their 30s and 40s may also have acne. Acne vulgaris affects the areas of skin with the densest population of sebaceous follicles; these areas include the face, the upper part of the chest, and the back The condition is most common in puberty. It is considered an abnormal response to normal levels of the male hormone testosterone. The response for most people diminishes over time and acne thus tends to disappear, or at least decrease, after one reaches his or her early twenties. There is, however, no way to predict how long it will take for it to disappear entirely, and some individuals will continue to suffer from acne decades later, into their thirties and forties and even beyond.

Inflammatory acne is the result of the host response to the follicular inhabitant Propionibacterium acnes. Symptoms of Acne Vulgaris include whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Redness around the skin eruptions and Scarring of the skin. Pimples that are large and deep are called cystic lesions. These can be painful if they get infected. Acne vulgaris affects 85-100% of people at some time during their lives. Acne vulgaris may be present in the first few weeks and months of life when a newborn is still under the influence of maternal hormones and when the androgen-producing portion of the adrenal gland is disproportionately large. This neonatal acne resolves spontaneously. Acne starts when oil and dead skin cells clog the skin's pores. If germs get into the pores, the result can be swelling, redness, and pus. See a picture of how pimples form. Adolescent acne usually begins prior to the onset of puberty, when the adrenal gland begins to produce and release more androgen hormone.

Acne vulgaris is caused oil and dead skin cells clog the skin's pores. Acne vulgaris may also be influenced by genetic factors. Hormone-driven over-production of sebum as the main contributing factor of acne. Some cosmetic agents and hair pomades may worsen acne. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, polycystic ovary syndrome, and other endocrine disorders with excess androgens may trigger the development of acne vulgaris. Medications that can promote acne include steroids, lithium, some antiepileptics, and iodides. Seafood often contains relatively high levels of iodine. Iodine is known to make existing acne worse but there is probably not enough to cause an acne outbreak. Still, people who are prone to acne may want to avoid excessive consumption of foods high in iodine. Chocolate, french fries, potato chips and sugar, among others, affect acne. A high GI (glycemic index) diet that causes sharp rises in blood sugar worsens acne. Masturbation causes acne and, conversely, that celibacy can cure it. True acne vulgaris in adults may be a feature of an underlying condition such as pregnancy and disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome or the rare Cushing's syndrome.

Acne treatment depends on whether you have a mild, moderate or severe form. There are many treatment of Acne vulgaris. Azelaic acid was originally used to treat brown spots/hyperpigmentation. It is useful for comedonal acne as well as mild to moderate inflammatory acne. Erythromycin and clindamycin are excellent topical antibacterial medications that are available as pads, solutions, lotions, and gels. Benzoy peroxide products are also effective against P acnes. Oral antibiotics (taken by mouth) such as minocycline, doxycycline, and tetracycline and hormonal therapies including oral contraceptives are also be used effectively. Speaking successful treatments give little improvement within the first week or two; and then the acne decreases over approximately 3 months, after which the improvement starts to flatten out. Treatments that promise improvements within 2 weeks are likely to be largely disappointing. Short bursts of cortisone, quick bursts of antibiotics and many of the laser therapies offer a quick reduction in the redness, swelling and inflammation when used correctly, but none of these empty the pore of all the materials that trigger the inflammation.

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