Acne skin condition – symptoms, myths and causes

Acne skin condition

Acne is a very common skin complaint and is seen as a serious skin condition by medical professionals as it can affect the way the sufferer feels about themselves. Acne often occurs in teenagers at a time when visual appearance is of utmost importance. Though it rarely causes scaring, acne is unsightly, with red and yellow pus filled spots and blackheads covering the face back or chest. As acne often occurs on the face it can dramatically lower confidence and self esteem levels. Though there are many effective treatments these can take some time to work.

There are things that you can try at home to treat the condition before visiting a doctor or dermatologist. Understanding the causes and the what effect each treatment has on the skin can really help. Of course, if home and over the counter treatments are ineffective the next step is to visit a doctor for advice. Doctors usually take this condition seriously as they understand the long reaching effect that the condition has on the sufferer.

Further detail on how acne can surface on the skin can be found in our article on the different types of acne spots.

Who does it effect?

Acne is most commonly affects teenagers, in fact some 80% of people aged between 11 and 30 years with suffer from an acne breakout at some point. Women are most affected in the early and mid teen years and men in later teens and early twenties. Women tends to suffer less severely, having breakouts that link with hormone cycles, men’s outbreaks are often more severe and long lasting.

After an initial outbreak out acne is experienced it is likely that you could go on to get further break outs. It is likely that these outbreaks will reduce or hopefully stop as you get older and hormone levels settle down. Acne can however continue into adulthood although this is quite rare. Changes in hormones, such as during pregnancy, can also trigger break outs, looking out for early signs can help you to treat acne quickly and effectively.

Acne myths explained

Acne is caused by poor hygiene- False- Acne is caused by over active sebaceous glands which is are often triggered by hormones. This is why acne is common at times of big hormonal changes for example in teenage years or in pregnancy. www.acne.org has some great diagrams that show the process of the hair follicle (or pore) becoming blocked.

Acne is triggered by a poor diet- False- Teenagers are famed for a love of junk food but this does not cause acne. A healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables will improve health and vitality including that of the skin but indulging in the odd burger or chocolate bar will not cause acne. There has been research into the effects that drinking milk can have on the skin. As milk is produced by lactating cows (cows that are producing milk in order to fed their young) it contains a high level of hormones similar to those found in humans during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It has been suggested that drinking milk can cause acne by introducing these hormones into the body.

Washing your face more often gets rid of acne- False- Washing your face more frequently will only encourage your skin to produce more oil. As the oil is washed away from the face the sebaceous glands are encouraged to produce an even larger amount of oil. The best advice is to just wash your skin twice a day.

So what can cause acne or make acne worse?

Hormones- As you have already read, hormone surges during the teen years and early twenties and also hormonal changes that are the result of changes in hormone levels due to pregnancy, taking prescribed medication or going through the menopause can all trigger acne breakouts.

Make up – Wearing heavily oil based make up can encourage sebaceous glands to over produce oil increasing the risk of acne breakouts. If you choose to wear make-up look for products that are non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic as these with be water bases and not lie so heavily on the skin.

Pressure or rubbing on the skin- Wearing a heavy backpack or tight fitting clothes can aggravate the condition.

Picking at spots- As tempting as it is try to leave spots well alone, picking at them can lead to infection, or worse still, scarring. Just try to ensure the area is keep as clean as possible. If you must squeeze go gently and ensure you hands and face are impeccably clean and keep in mind that you will probably make the matter worse limit the damage and be kind to your skin.