Acne is a very visible skin condition because it creates prominent bumps on the skin. This usually happens to teenagers, with the Nemours Kids Health site explaining that 80 percent of teens get pimples, but adults can develop acne-related bumps on their faces, too. There are several types of acne, but all have the same root cause and most respond to common over-the-counter treatments.
Acne bumps are triggered by a blockage in tiny holes in the skin called pores, Kids Health explains. Pores have sebaceous glands that produce oil to keep skin moist. Sometimes they make too much, and it blends with dead skin cells and bacteria and blocks the pore, either partially or completely. This leads to swelling, which creates bumps on the skin surface.
Pimples actually come in several different types, according to the Mayo Clinic. The bumps look similar but there are important differences when they are scrutinized closely. Blackheads happen when a pore is not completely blocked, resulting in a visible dark head. Whiteheads are completely closed. Papules are red, tender, infected bumps. Pustules are similar but are filled with pus. Nodules cause large bumps because they indicate a deep buildup of trapped secretions. Cysts are the largest pimple type and the most likely to cause scars. They are filled with pus and extend down below the skin surface.
Acne is usually associated with the face because facial bumps are usually very noticeable. The American Academy of Dermatology advises that pimples can actually form anywhere the skin has pores. Areas rich in sebaceous glands are most vulnerable. These include the face, chest, shoulders, upper arms, neck and back.
Acne bumps affect physical appearance, which can have a profound psychological effect. Canadian researchers at the Dalhousie University Medical School and the QEII Health Sciences Centre, both of which are in Halifax, discovered acne sufferers are more prone to emotional problems such as anxiety disorder and depression and often have a reduced quality of life.
The Mayo Clinic warns that acne can have lasting physical effects, too. Most pimples go away without any problem unless you pop, pick or scratch them. This can cause or worsen an infection and leave a scar. Acne cysts are especially prone to leave a lasting mark.
Most acne bumps can be reduced or prevented with over-the-counter medications such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. These two ingredients are the most popular, but products containing resorcinol or a combination of alcohol and acetone are also effective. Doctors can prescribe stronger topical products or oral medication for especially resistant cases. Medical treatment is often necessary for cystic acne because the lesions are so deep.
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