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What is Acne?

Updated on September 19, 2011

The skin affection known as acne, once it has fully developed, stubbornly resists most methods of treatment, and therefore efforts should be made to get it under control in its earliest stages. The disease tends spontaneously to disappear by the age of twenty-five but, in severe cases, there is a risk of permanent disfigurement from scar formation.

What causes Acne?

Acne is characterized by "blackheads" or comedones, and pimples in which pus is apt to form, and its favorite sites are the face, neck and shoulder region. In girls, it is most often the chin area which is involved. It is due to an over-activity of the sebaceous glands believed to be associated with a temporary disturbance of the balance of the ductless (endocrine) glands. Numerous contributory factors excite the disease. Acne nearly always occurs in youths with a greasy, coarse-grained skin. This is generally a family feature and, of course, cannot be avoided. Low vitality, especially if accompanied by constipation and bloodlessness, predisposes to acne, while a diet containing too much and concentrated food, in particular too many sweets, lack of sunshine and fresh air, insufficient exercise, and excessive cigarette smoking are factors liable to excite its eruption. Not infrequently, bad teeth and septic tonsils are of considerable causal importance. It is nearly always associated with dandruff of the scalp.

Acne Treatment

Those who have the misfortune to possess a coarse skin should always pay particular attention to the skin toilet and the health in general, but especially in relation to diet and bowel functioning. Greasy skins should be washed thrice daily with some mildly antiseptic soap and warm water, and this should be followed by a cold splash and thorough drying with a towel. Should blackheads and pimples appear, a sulfur soap should be used every night, lathering for about five minutes. This may keep the tendency at bay, but it is advisable to take into account also the habits of life. Unless the bowels are acting very freely a morning saline should be taken and plenty of roughage-containing foods: raw fruits, vegetables and wholemeal cereals should be included in the dietary. It is best for a time to abstain completely from sweets. The simpler the diet the better. Bloodlessness must be corrected by getting adequate fresh air and sunshine and by eating foods rich in iron, such as spinach, peas, beans, carrots, raisins and currants. Make sure that the teeth are healthy by attendance on the dentist, and if there is any doubt about the tonsils, consult the doctor. Most cases of acne will yield to these measures if persisted in continuously, but if the disease gets thoroughly established special medical measures will be necessary and the patient should consult a doctor. Ultraviolet rays benefit some cases but vaccines are disappointing. In severe cases, X-rays are recommended. The another treatment is the application of an ointment containing an ovarian hormone, stilboesterol. This preparation may also be given in small doses by the mouth. Treatment of the scalp by nightly application of a spirit lotion and twice weekly shampooing are essential.

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