Monday, June 9, 2008

Acne Variations

Acne is a term for plugged pores (blackheads, whiteheads), pimples and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules), that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms.

There are several variations of acne that skin experts have coined.

Acne Vulgaris (the most common acne)

For most people acne vulgaris should diminish and disappear after they reache their early twenties. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict how long it will take for it to disappear. Some individuals still suffer from it into their thirties and even beyond. This type of acne includes several types of lesions, usually called blackhead, whitehead, papules, pustules, nodules and cyst. Each of these terms will be explained below.

Blackheads are caused by partially blocked pores. The black appearance is due to melanin pigment from dead skin cells. Blackheads are stable structures, and can take a long time to clear.

Whiteheads are caused by totally blocked pores. The white appearance is due to the bacteria inside that turn the sebum into free fatty acid. The whitehead is different from the blackhead because the opening of the plugged sebaceous follicle to the skin’s surface is closed or very narrow, in contrast to the distended follicular opening of the blackhead.

You should never pick blackheads or whiteheads. Tissue damaged by squeezing or picking can become infected by staphylococci, streptococci and several other skin bacteria.

Papules are small, red, tender bumps or spots. A group of very small papules and microcomedones may be almost invisible but have a “sandpaper” feel to the touch. A papule is caused by localized cellular reaction to the process of acne.

Pustules are larger, red and inflamed-pus filled spots.

Severe acne vulgaris is characterized by:

Cysts these can be severely inflamed and infected.

Nodules these are large lumps under the skin’s surface. A nodule is characterized by inflammation, extends into deeper layers of the skin and may cause tissue destruction that results in scarring. A nodule may be very painful.

Acne Rosacea typically causes a red nose and is more common in older people than in young people, mostly affecting those who are aged 30 and above. It commonly appears as red rash, which is normally confined, to the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. The redness can be accompanied by bumps and pimples. People with this kind of acne rarely have pimples.

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