A Breakout of Acne
Acne is a common skin condition, but myths about what causes breakouts and who they affect still abound. Acne breakouts affect men and women of all ages. An article published in "Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery" by R. George and colleagues in 2008 estimates that of the 40 million Americans suffering from acne, 20 million are women older than the age of 25. Severe breakouts can be painful and cause scarring that damages your self-confidence.
The University of Maryland Medical Center lists papules, pustules, open comedones, closed comedones, cysts and nodules as the types of acne breakouts that can occur. The cysts and nodules create lesions beneath the skin. These may become inflamed and filled with pus, leading to pain and potential scarring. Closed comedones, or whiteheads, appear as white bumps on the skin. Open comedones, or blackheads, occur when a clogged follicle opens, turning the skin black. Pustules are what are typically called "pimples"--pus-filled breakouts raised from the skin. Papules appear on the skin as pink bumps.
The causes of acne include genetics, hormones, using oily beauty products, taking certain medications and the friction tight clothing causes against skin. Acne develops when sebum, an oily substance produced by sebaceous glands, cannot reach the surface of your skin because of bacteria and dead skin cells. If the surface of the clogged pore stays open, it is a blackhead. When the clog blocks the opening of the pore, it is a whitehead. When a breakout ruptures, the bacteria spreads to surrounding skin. If the inflammation goes deep enough, the breakout turns into a cyst.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health recommend regular, gentle cleansing with a mild soap. Using non-comedogenic makeup and beauty products and removing them thoroughly before going to sleep each night may also help. Keep hair clean and away from the skin on your face, because oily strands against your skin can lead to breakouts. Over-the-counter medications with salicyclic acid, benzoyl proxide and resorcinol dry oil and kill bacteria, which may clear up typical acne breakouts.
Severe acne breakouts may not respond to typical treatments. In these cases, a dermatologist can examine your skin and determine the best course of treatment. Hormonal acne related to testosterone, estrogen, dihydrotestosterine and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate may respond to oral contraceptives. Oral and topical antibiotics have also been successful in treating severe and inflamed acne breakouts. They fight acne and inflammation-causing bacteria, but can take between six and eight weeks to be effective. A dermatologist may also prescribe retinoids--derivatives of vitamin A--for severe breakouts. These medications tend to have more side effects, so be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
Science has proved that many of the myths surrounding acne breakouts are incorrect. Eating greasy or sugary junk foods and drinking carbonated beverages do not increase acne breakouts. The presence of acne, including severe breakouts, does not indicate a person has poor hygiene. In fact, frequent washing or scrubbing the skin can actually make acne breakouts worse.
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