Acne is a common skin condition which affects 80% to 90% of the population. It takes different forms and varies in severity from one person to another, often changing as the patient ages. Despite the fact that it most often appears in adolescence, it can appear as early as the age of nine and continue till the age of 35 or 40, and it can even affect infants for a limited number of weeks. Men usually have worse cases of acne than women, but the condition lasts longer in women than in men.￼Acne appears in different degrees of severity.
“Lucky” people show only one or two infrequent little spots, whereas the “unlucky” suffer from a large number of pustules (blisters which contain pus) on the forehead, cheeks, chin, chest and back; the greater the number of pustules, the greater the danger of scarring.
The main cause of acne (from adolescence onward) is overactivity and blocking of the sebaceous glands. These glands are present in the skin from birth, but in adolescence, as a result of the increased production of male sex hormones called androgens, the glands grow and produce a large quantity of an oily substance known as sebum. Androgens are present in both men and women, and most acne sufferers have normal levels of these hormones in their blood. In recent years it has been discovered that the severity of acne depends not upon the quantity in which they are produced, but on way in which the sebaceous glands react to them. It would appear that in people who have a hereditary tendency towards severe acne, the glands in the skin react more strongly to the same quantity of hormones than do the glands of people who have milder cases.
Sebaceous glands which have grown rapidly and produce large quantities of sebum are liable to become blocked and to produce comedos (blackheads). When the upper surface of the comedo is exposed to the air it oxidizes and turns black. When not exposed to the air, it has the appearance of a small white gland or fat deposit under the skin.
FACTORS WHICH WORSEN ACNE
- Drugs such as steroids (cortisone), lithium, Vitamin B12, drugs used in the treatment of epilepsy, drugs containing iodine
- Muscle-building hormones
- Exposure of the face or body to motor oil or grease
- Birth control pills containing small amounts of estrogen and larger amounts of progesterone
- Discontinuation of birth control pills
- The use of greasy ointments and lotions
- Excessive face-washing (more than three times a day)
- Rubbing or scratching or “picking at” the face
- The use of a toothpaste containing fluoride (acne around the mouth and lips)
- Excessive use of hair gels and creams (acne of the forehead)
- Greasy foods and snacks, spicy foods (for some people only. Each person must discover for himself which foods worsen his acne.)