Acne on the Face and Body
Acne on the face and body is normally caused by hair follicles or pores of the skin becoming blocked. Dead skin cells being shed mix with the oils produced by the skin, resulting in pores becoming clogged. When this happens, the body may try to fight the clog and cause inflammation. The result of this is an acne blemish.
Approximately 85 percent of teenagers in the United States will suffer from acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. This makes teens the most likely group to get acne. Other people who are prone to acne include pregnant women and women who are nearing menstruation. Patients on cortisone therapy and some other medications may also be at an increased risk of acne. It is, however, possible for anyone of any age or sex to develop acne blemishes.
Acne on the body and face comes in five distinct types: papules, pustules, cysts, nodules and comedones. Papules, according to the Mayo Clinic, are tender bumps that are red and signal infection or inflammation in the affected follicle. Pustules are similar to papules, but pustules contain a pus head. Cysts are large, pus-filled blemishes, similar to boils, that start deep within the hair follicle. These blemishes are painful. Nodules are deep blemishes that are solid and may be painful. Comedones are more commonly known as whiteheads and blackheads.
Most cases of acne are treated using topical medications that are available without a prescription. The active ingredient in these products is usually either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide; however, some products may contain sulfur, lactic acid or resorcinol. When acne blemishes don't respond to these treatments within eight weeks, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends seeking treatment from a dermatologist. In this case, stronger topical or oral medications like antibiotics, or systemic medications like isotretinoin, may be prescribed.
Acne, especially when left untreated, can cause emotional problems. Depression, a compromised self-image and anxiety can all result from acne. Because of this, acne should be treated as soon as possible after the initial blemish is noted. In addition to these emotional problems, there can be permanent scarring of the skin, especially if the blemishes are picked at or popped.
If the acne blemishes appear on the face or skin after shaving, the blemishes may be razor bumps or ingrown hairs. These blemishes look similar to acne but are the result of hairs piercing the skin or hair follicle after shaving. Generally, acne medications won't help blemishes caused by ingrown hairs, but the ingrown hair blemishes will usually heal in three to four weeks if shaving is avoided.
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