At least 85% of people experience acne at some point in their lives. Acne lesions usually appear on the face, neck, trunk, upper arms and buttocks and are colloquially known as zits, pimples and blemishes. Medical terms include comedomes (blackheads and whiteheads), papules (raised inflated bumps), pustules (raised white bumps), and nodules and cysts (deep, often tender, bumps benefit the skin).
There are three primary components of acne occurrence:
1. Plugging of skin pores and hair follicles by dead skin cells.
2. Androgenic (hormonal) stimulation of sebum production. Sebum is natural oils produced by the skin's glands
3. Bacterial infection causing inflammation of skin pores and hair follicles.
Contribution factors which are very important and often overlooked include emotional stress and pressure on the skin such as retaining face on hands. Acne is not caused by chocolate, fatty foods or in fact by any kind of food. Flares often occurs in winter and with the onset of the menstrual cycle in women, and almost all acne is contributed to hormonal factors. The psychological impact should also be assessed for each individual and the management plan modified accordingly. In some instances, acne can lead an individual to experience social withdrawal, lower self-esteem and sometimes even depression.
There are a number of therapies for controlling acne which can in some cases be used in combination however your doctor may first recommend using a topical preparation for at least 6-8 weeks before further acne treatment options are considered. Therapy options may vary depending on the severity of acne, and may include:
o Topical preparations like medicated gels, washes, ointments and lotions containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or benzoyl peroxide.
o Oral medications like antibiotics, hormone therapy and retinoids.
o Phototherapy (light therapy).
o Invasive treatments like injections, skin peels and skin resurfacing.