How Is Acne Diagnosed?
Acne is a common ailment of the skin experienced in puberty and for many, well into adulthood. Acne occurs when dead skin cells, dirt and bacteria mix with natural oils from the skin, called sebum. This mixture forms plugs that block the pores of the skin, resulting in the formation of acne. When diagnosing acne, your doctor will look closely at your skin for signs of acne lesions.
The presence of comedones, commonly referred to as whiteheads or blackheads, is one indication of acne. Comedones are one of the most common forms of acne, and are the first sign that a pore is clogged. Open comedones at the surface of the skin are called blackheads because of their darker appearance. Closed comedones that are beneath the skin's surface are called whiteheads, and are simply raised bumps on the skin.
Papules are another symptom of acne. Papules form when the hair follicle becomes infected due to bacteria. This causes a slightly raised red bump which is painful and sensitive to the touch.
The presence of pustules can also lead to a diagnosis of acne. Pustules are similar to papules, except they form white pus that oozes from the tip of the acne bump.
Nodules signal to a doctor that a serious acne breakout is present. As skin oil glands get blocked, internal pressure builds up beneath the skin. As the oil gland bursts open, pus fills the surrounding area, causing deep inflammation. This forms a solid painful lump on the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the deep penetration of nodules into the skin can cause tissue destruction and scarring.
Doctors can also identify acne by the presence of acne cysts. Acne cysts are severely inflamed nodules which extend deeper into the skin than typical nodules. Cysts are usually a sign of a severe type of acne called nodulocystic acne, which may require more proactive treatments such as the use of prescription isotretinoin.
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