Your Own Little Oil Wells
There are many diseases which can affect the skin, but those of common interest to most people and those which have at one time or the other affected all of us or someone close to us in someway include acne, and dandruff.
Of these, acne is by far the commonest skin ailment, which has affected nearly everyone at some stage in their life in a small or big way.
Acne, simply speaking is the pimples seen so often on the faces of adolescents. It affects more than 90% of all adolescents, nearly 50% of all adult women and 25% of all adults. Crossing gender lines as well as national borders, it's one of the most widespread medical conditions in the world.
Acne is not just a problem for teenagers, it can affect people from ages 10 through 40. It is not unusual for women, in particular, to develop acne in their mid-to-late 20's, even if they have not had breakouts in years (or ever). Acne can appear as any of the following; pores, congested whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, pustules, or cysts (deep pimples).
These blemishes occur wherever there are many oil (sebaceous) glands, mainly on the face, chest, and back.
The hair follicle is a unit within the skin, like a flower pot with the hair growing out of it like a plant. Additional little pots which open into the main pot are the sebaceous glands which secrete an oily substance called sebum to lubricate the hair shaft and skin. Excessive oil produced by the sebaceous glands, in people with acne, traps dead skin cells and sometimes blocks the opening of the hair follicles.
The oil (sebaceous) glands become more active around puberty stimulated by male hormones from the adrenal glands of both boys and girls.
Propionobacterium acnes are bacteria, which normally live on the skin. However when the follicles and sebaceous glands get blocked, this bacteria multiplies and causes inflammation.
If the inflammation is right near the surface, you get a pustule; if it's deeper, a papule (pimple); deeper still, a cyst. If the oil breaks though to the surface, the result is a "whitehead." If the oil becomes oxidized (that is, acted on by oxygen in the air), the oil changes from white to black, and the result is a "blackhead."
Exactly why some people get acne, while some do not, is not fully known. It is known to be partly hereditary. Several factors are known to be linked to Acne.
The tendency to develop acne runs in families. Increased hormonal activity, such as during the menstrual cycles, in puberty and during the menopause may lead to an increase in male sex hormones called androgens causing the glands to get larger and make more sebum.
Stress, hyperactivity of sebaceous glands, accumulation of dead skin cells, presence of bacteria in the pores, all tend to contribute to the formation of acne.
There are still an astonishing number of myths, regarding acne which cloud public perception. These untruths are passed down from one family member to another, mentioned by a friend in passing and occasionally published in beauty magazines.
For those who suffer from persistent acne, these seeds of misinformation can blossom into a bigger skin problem, leading them to practices that can actually make their acne worse. It is important to know that acne is not caused by dirt so over washing your face or body will not make your acne better. In fact, too much washing or the over-use of harsh scrubs and “pore strips” can actually strip the skin of the oil it needs to stay soft and pliable, leading to dry, flaky skin that may actually produce more oil.
Acne does not affect teenagers only. It can strike at any age.
It is not caused by food or stress even though certain foods and stress can aggravate it.
It is useful to know your own triggers! Acne is different for everyone.
In some people certain foods will cause a flare up while in others stress could be the triggering factor.
Traditionally it has been widely believed that oily food causes acne. This is not entirely true and while it is not advisable to eat very oily foods for other reasons, eating oily foods does not cause acne.
Acne is treatable but not curable. It is therefore important to consult your doctor as soon as the first pimples begin to appear on your face.
In my experience with acne I have seen that a large part of the problem is created because initially the condition is not taken seriously and many home remedies are tried which often make it worst, and considering the level of psychological damage that acne can cause, no matter how trivial it looks it should be taken as seriously as any other illness and treated by a doctor.
The principle of treatment is based on a combination of normalizing the shedding of dead cells into the pores, eliminating the bacteria, P.acnes, creating an anti-inflammatory effect and hormonal manipulation.
There are a wide range of treatments available, so there’s a good chance that your Doctor will be able to find one that works for you. Just remember this: Even if your blemishes go away, your acne is not cured. It’s important to be diligent about your treatment plan, even after your skin is clear.
Dr Shabihul Hassan
+234 806 016 4004