Acne & Blemishes
Acne causes blemishes on the skin. These blemishes can occur anywhere on the face or body where there are hair follicles or pores. When the natural oil produced by the hair follicles moistens dead skin cells, the hair follicle may become plugged. This can inflame the follicle and cause a blemish.
Acne affects about 85 percent of teenagers, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Pregnant women and women who are nearing menstruation are also likely to get blemishes. Another risk factor is if a person has a family history of acne. Direct skin contact with oils, including some oils in cosmetics, can contribute to acne, as can constant friction on the skin.
There are five types of acne blemishes noted by MayoClinic.com: cysts, nodules, comedones, papules and pustules. Cysts are the most severe form of acne and may lead to permanent scarring. These can form lesions similar to boils that are painful and pus filled. Nodules are formed deep within the hair follicle and produce painful lumps under the skin. These lumps are usually large and solid. Comedones are more commonly known as whiteheads and blackheads. Whiteheads are closed, skin-colored plugs that form on the opening of a hair follicle. Blackheads are open plugs that form on the opening of the hair follicle that look darker than the skin. Papules are red bumps that are small and tender. Pustules are similar to papules but these have a pus head.
Treatments for mild acne blemishes include over-the-counter products in the form of lotions, creams, gels or soaps. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are the two most common main ingredients for these. It can take up to eight weeks for these products to fully work, according to FamilyDoctor.org. If over-the-counter medications don't work, a doctor may prescribe medication. Oral medications, such as antibiotics or birth control pills, and topical medications, such as retinoids or antibiotics, are some of the prescriptions available. A systemic prescription treatment, isotretinoin, is used to treat severe forms of cystic acne.
Cleaning the face twice per day using a mild antibacterial soap may help prevent the hair follicle blockage that leads to acne. Keeping the hair clean can also help prevent blemishes. Avoiding oil-laden foods can also help. While eating these foods won't cause acne, oils from the foods may remain on the skin and clog pores, which leads to acne. Using non-acnegenic, non-comedogenic or water-based skin care products minimizes the risk of clogging pores.
Failing to treat acne can lead to self-esteem and image problems. It can also lead to other dermatological problems, such as hyperpigmentation and scarring. Picking at the blemishes may also lead to scarring and possibly infection. For people with dark skin, trying to treat blemishes with benzoyl peroxide-based products may lead to skin discoloration, according to AcneNet.
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