What is acne vulgaris?
Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples, especially on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms. The condition occurs when the hair follicles are blocked with dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil or sebum, leading to blemishes on the skin.
Acne vulgaris commonly occurs during puberty, when the sebaceous glands activate but can occur at any age. It is not dangerous; however, the condition can leave skin scars.
Acne varies in size, color, and level of pain. The types of acne vulgaris include:
- Non-inflammatory: Characterized by comedones
- Inflammatory: Characterized by papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.
Acne vulgaris symptoms
Noticeable acne vulgaris symptoms include:
- Whiteheads, which are closed plugged pores
- Blackheads, which are open closed pores
- Tender red bumps called papules
- Pustules, which contain pus
- Painful bumps beneath the skin called nodules and cystic lesions
These outbreaks may not be limited to the face. They may also occur on the back, shoulders, neck, and chest.
Who is at risk?
Acne vulgaris risk factors include:
- Some medications that contain androgen and lithium
- Greasy cosmetics
- Hormonal changes
- Emotional stress
Acne vulgaris causes
Acne vulgaris causes include a combination of hormones, oil, and bacteria.
During puberty, a hormone called androgen increases, resulting in the sebaceous glands to produce more of the oily substance sebum. The sebum and dead skin cells generally come up through the hair follicles and out through the pores in the skin. When this sebum, skins cells, and bacteria clump together into a plug and clog the follicles, the sebum can’t escape through the pores. This plug gets infected with bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) and resulting in acne.
How is acne vulgaris diagnosed?
In most cases, acne is easily recognized by the person.
However, if you’re dealing with acne regularly, it is important to see your dermatologist for proper acne vulgaris diagnosis. The dermatologist can check the blemishes and make sure that the condition is acne and not any other similar condition.
Once diagnosed, the doctor can suggest a treatment based on your skin and the severity of the condition.
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How is acne vulgaris treated?
The goals for acne vulgaris treatment include treating and preventing acne, as well as preventing scarring.
- Mild Acne: Mild acne vulgaris cure can be done with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as gels, soaps, pads, creams, and lotions, that are applied to the skin. OTC acne remedies may contain active ingredients like resorcinol, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, retin-A, azelaic acid. When using OTC remedies, it is advisable to start at the lowest strengths, as some preparations can cause skin irritation, redness, or burning initially.
- Moderate to severe acne: A dermatologist, can treat more severe cases. They may prescribe a gel or cream similar to OTC medications but stronger, or an oral or topical antibiotic medicine for acne vulgaris.
- Corticosteroid injection: A specialist may treat an inflamed cyst by injecting a diluted corticosteroid. This can help prevent scarring, reduce inflammation, and speed up healing.
- Oral antibiotics: These aim to lower the population of P. Acnes and may be prescribed for up to 6 months for patients with moderate to severe acne. The dosage will start high and reduce as the acne clears. Erythromycin and tetracycline are commonly prescribed for acne.
- Oral contraceptives: These can help control acne in women by suppressing the overactive gland. They are commonly used as long-term acne treatments. These may not be suitable for women who have a blood-clotting disorder, have a history of migraines, are over 35 years old, or who smoke.
- Topical antimicrobials: These also aim to reduce P. acnes in patients with moderate to severe acne. The dermatologist may prescribe a topical retinoid unclog the pores and prevent whiteheads and blackheads from developing.
How can acne vulgaris be prevented?
Some tips on prevention of acne vulgaris are:
- Wash your face no more than twice each day
- Avoid popping pimples
- Refrain from touching the face
- Wash hands frequently
- Clean spectacles and phones regularly
- Avoid tight garments, such as headbands, caps, and scarves, or wash them regularly if used.
- Keep hair clean
- Avoid excessive sun exposure
- Avoid anxiety and stress