Acne – Ten Facts You May Wish To Know About It

Here are ten facts you may not know about this skin disease.

o Most individuals with acne do not have excessive androgens but their sebaceous glands may be more sensitive to the actions of androgens.

o It is characterized by a variety of clinical skin lesions. These lesions may be either inflammatory or non-inflammatory papules or nodules. The non-inflammatory papules are called 'comedones' and these may be either open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads). Closed comedones are the precursors of papules, pustules, and large inflammatory nodules.

o Propionibacterium acnes are the bacteria that cause acne. It is the breakdown of fat by these bacteria that leads to the formation of comedones.

o It is a self-limited disorder and primarily affects teenagers and young adults, although about 10 to 20% of adults may continue to experience some form of the disease.

o Most disease remains mild and does not lead to scarring but a few sufferers may develop large inflammatory cysts and nodules, which may rupture and result in significant scarring.

o Friction and trauma may rupture preexisting small comedones and trigger inflammatory acne lesions. This is commonly seen with headbands or chin straps of athletic helmets.

o Application of any form of chemical found in cosmetics, hair products or industrial compounds that are comedogenic may elicit or worsen acne.

o Steroids applied on skin or given systemically in high doses may also cause acne. Medications such as lithium, isoniazid, halogens, phenytoin, and phenobarbital may produce or worsen acne.

o Dispel some of the myths about acne- it is NOT due to lack of washing, eating sweets / chocolate, etc.

o Treatment of acne should be directed towards elimination of comedones by normalization of follicular keratinization, decreasing sebaceous gland activity, decreasing the population of Propionibacterium acnes, and decreasing inflammation.