Acne is the single most common skin disease affecting mostly teenagers but it can affect anybody in any age group. It is a skin disorder which affects girls two to three years earlier than boys but there is no gender bias for this disorder and it affects almost every teenager in one form or the other. Acne has other names too which are pimples, blemishes and zits. It is estimated that 30% of teenagers suffer severe acne warranting medical intervention.
Acne scars and blemishes can have a devastating effect on the individual’s life causing depression and low self esteem there by lowering the quality of life. Acne sufferers are more prone to suicidal impulses due to stress and depression. Fortunately, majority of acne cases are mild in nature and responds to medication and vanish after some time. But for some, acne is severe with wave after wave of lesions which are disfiguring and causes anxiety and stress which aggravate the situation further.
There are oil secreting glands called sebaceous glands situated under hair root follicles of the skin that produce a thick wax like oil to keep the skin healthy. This oil is called sebum. Sometimes these glands produce more oil than necessary due to hormone fluctuations in the body and also due to other factors. This excess production of thick wax like oil blocks the hair pores and creates a perfect breeding ground for acne bacteria.
Acne is caused by four factors.
They are excess sebum production, blockage to the outflow of sebum, proliferation of acne bacteria and inflammation in the follicles.
The sebaceous glands are stimulated to produce more sebum by the increased circulation of hormone androgen, the production of which is high during puberty. Because of this increased sebum production, the micro organism population residing and thriving in the sebum (their main source of food)explodes. These organisms are acne bacteria, staphylococcus and other yeast like micro-organisms. This population explosion of these microorganisms causes infection resulting in acne. Acne is the resulting condition of many interacting processes. Acne sufferers have a higher rate of sebum production than non-sufferers.