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Acne-What You Need to Know

Updated on November 27, 2007

Acne is a skin condition that many of us have had to deal with to some degree. Sadly, it usually rears its ugly head at a time in our lives when we are feeling our most insecure...our early teens. The onset of puberty sets it in motion and it seems like a lifetime before we "outgrow" it. Some people are unfortunate and don't outgrow it until they are well into adulthood.

What, actually, is acne-beyond a bunch of "zits" -really?

Well, there are many forms of acne. The most common form is Acne Vulgaris. What happens here is sort of a two fold problem-especially in teens. You get an abnormal build up of a protein called keratin in the tiny hair follicles in the skin. The build up becomes a plug. This is further aggravated by the fact that in teenagers, you have overly active sebaceous (oil) glands.

The plugged follicles become a whitehead or blackhead. These are known as comedones.

Grade 1 Acne Vulgaris

Comedones
Comedones

Papule

Pustule

Blackheads and whiteheads are nasty enough, but now add a nasty little bacterium called Propiobacterium Acnes. This takes it up a notch.

This bacteria thrives on the oil that has built up inside the plugged follicle, but as it is "eating" the sebum plug, it is giving off waste products that cause inflammation to the area. Now we don't just have the blackhead, but we have an infection. Hum-m.

Can you see where this is going? I think everyone has gone down that road. What has started as a simple little whitehead, ends up as a nasty, angry, pustule. As with most infections, it hurts also. So we think it is better to pick it...not so. Just remember that. It causes scarring. Don't touch!!!

Cystic Acne

Like everything in our lives, acne is graded. A grade of 1 being the most mild and 4 being the most severe on the scale.

Grade 1 has only comedones---blackheads and whiteheads only.

Grade 2 may have blackheads and whiteheads, but has inflammatory pimples also.

Grade 3 has all of grade 2 plus papules and pustules.

Grade 4 has all of grade 3 along with acneic cysts-these are similar to boils.

Grade 4 is of course the most severe and devastating of the grades. If you are having severe difficulties with acne I would urge you to see a dermatologist.

In the case of acneic cysts, a dermatologist can treat them in ways that will minimize scarring.

In any grade of acne, educating yourself on diet and skin care is crucial. At a certain point, medical intervention may be necessary.

Your Dermatologist should be able to prevent future damage and to help to correct damage that may have already occurred. You will put your best face forward!

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    • Michele Engholm profile image
      Author

      Michele Engholm 10 years ago from Hutchinson

      Thanks Rena...I must say you made me laugh... : ) The one pic does look like the lunar surface doesn't it...

    • RenaSherwood profile image

      RenaSherwood 10 years ago

      Wow. The theme to the "Twilight Zone" should be playing as you look at the pictures. Very good Hub!

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