Acne is the result of hormones stimulating the pilosebaceous unit, which is
defined as the hair follicle and the sebaceous (oil) glands that are attached to
and empty into it. As the hormones stimulate the whole thing, the result can be
either excess facial hair for women (see hirsutism)
or acne, or both.
The oil joins with dead skin cells in the mouth of the follicle (pore) to
form a plug. When the oil can't get out, it fills up and stretches the follicle.
This causes an environment friendly to acne-causing bacteria, and an infection
The contents of the follicle are now inflamed, and it is not until the pus
from the inflammation works its way to the surface that the pimple can break and
If you squeeze when the inflammation is still down underneath, the infected
contents have nowhere to go but to break out of the follicle into neighboring
tissue. This up-to-now sterile tissue sees all this as a foreign invasion and
sends in its antibodies which put up a fight, and then you have a deep, sore,
cyst. All this infectious activity can lead to scarring.
The tendency to acne is hereditary, but it can be aggravated (though not
caused) by a greasy diet, a dirty workplace, and touching with the fingers.
To take care of acne, you need to cleanse gently with a good cleanser. If you
have an effective cleanser, you will not be tempted to scrub. After all, the
tissue is sore and inflamed and needs gentle treatment. If you have active acne,
use a clean washcloth every time.
Then you need to treat the acne bacteria with benzoyl peroxide (BP). The acne
bacteria are anaerobic; the BP gets down into the follicle and releases oxygen
on them. Some claim that a dab of tea tree oil (from any health food store) does
just as well.
BP needs to be used preventively, over all the affected area. Put it on for a
short time at first, then work up to once a day or even twice a day, leaving it
on. Your skin may get dry and irritated at first, so go slowly; the skin will
adjust. It's best to start with lower-strength formulas, such as 2.5% for mild
acne, 5% for moderate, and 10% only if things are really bad.
You also need to exfoliate the old dead skin cells so that they won't clog
the pores and cause the situation in the first place. For this we have a
glycolic or other hydroxy acid.
A regimen of washing, exfoliating, and medicating should keep the acne under
control. Your local esthetician will probably offer acne facials, and that is an
excellent way to see improvement fast. S/he may use high-frequency current to
dry and sterilize the affected area.
A good way to start home care would be a glycolic acid cleanser and a tube of
benzoyl peroxide gel: 5% for moderate acne, 10% for a bad case. The next step
would be to add a daily glycolic acid or salicylic acid product for better
exfoliation. Another way would be to use a benzoyl peroxide cleanser and then
later add a topical glycolic or salicylic to exfoliate.
RETURN: Skin Problems