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Acne is one of the most recurring skin conditions that most people, especially teenagers, experience during their lifetime. Triggered by many causes, acne is common in people of all ages between 11 and 30 years. It usually begins during puberty when some sex hormones are most active.
However, is acne a disease?
Is Acne A Disease?
Acne is a skin disease. By definition, a disease is a disorder of function or structure in humans or animals that produces specific symptoms. The symptoms affect a specific location; hence, it may not be due to physical injuries. As a result, some diseases can be cured, while others cannot be cured. However, most people prefer to refer to acne as a skin condition since it relates to appearance. To find the balance, we can classify minor acne as a condition and the critical ones as a disease since it requires more medical intervention.
Another fact that lends credibility to acne being a disease is that a disease is a pathophysiological response to either internal or internal factors. The abnormalities can either cause physical or emotional symptoms. However, a condition can also be caused by several diseases and can interfere with the normal state of wellness. Hence, it is safe to say that acne is a disease.
Acne is a disease of the hair follicles that affects most people. However, no single factor causes acne. Acne occurs when the oil glands attached to the hair follicles are stimulated due to hormonal changes.
The glands in their natural form produce oil to lubricate the skin. Oil production varies when the skin is changing. As a result, the effect is always different during certain stages of someone’s life.
Follicles connect the oil glands to the skin; they are the small sacs that secrete and produce liquid. Since the glands produce oil, they are called oil glands. The sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles onto the skin’s surface.
However, small hair on your skin grows out of the follicles.
The combination of the sebum, dead skin cells, and hair then clogs to form a clot that blocks the highway. On its own, this situation may not appear critical. However, when bacteria infect the clog, it causes it to swell.
Propionibacterium acnes is the bacteria that live on the skin. Hence, it is considerably easy for the clog to become infected. When the clog is affected, it causes swelling around the infected site. However, the severity of the acne depends on the strain of the virus.
What Causes Acne Apart From The Bacteria?
The major participants in the acne-causing cycle are oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. However, they are a few other causes that do not belong to this group. They include:
Genes And Hormones
Genes are inherited traits that we receive from parents; hence, it explains about 81% variations in populations. Although researchers have not identified the acne-causing gene, studies have shown that you can inherit it from your parents. Therefore, if both parents had chronic acne in the past, you can inherit it as their child.
Acne recurs the most during hormonal changes in the body, especially during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy. During puberty, sex hormones called androgens causes the follicle glands to grow larger. When it does, it produces more oil.
Other hormones like dehydroepiandrosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and testosterone are also known causes of acne. Not just this, an increase in insulin-like growth factor and growth hormones are also known to worsen acne. During pregnancy, the androgen levels increase to create more oily sebum synthesis.
What you eat and what you don’t eat can also cause acne. High glycemic-load foods like sugar and chocolate can cause insulin levels to spike. When it does, the body produces more oil to try to regulate its activities.
As expected, excess oil can clog the pores and follicles. Milk and dairy are also associated with acne breakouts since it contains why proteins that stimulate acne-causing hormones.
Related Read: Acne Diet: Eat Your Way To Clear Skin Fast
Stress And Pressure
Occupational stress can lead to acne.
Halogenated aromatic compounds are also known to cause acme when you are exposed to them. In case you don’t work near any of these industries, pressure from helmets, backpack, chin strap, and bra strap can also cause acne.
Tight-fitting gears rub against your sweat and body, and the sweat can block the pores. It can also be from playing a musical instrument like a violin close to your skin.
Medications that contain testosterone, corticosteroids, and lithium can cause acne. Although the drugs don’t cause acne, they affect the hormonal levels. If you take steroids or any drug that stimulates insulin production, you risk affecting the follicle and causing acne.
Apart from this, smoking and excess consumption of alcohol is also known to cause acne.
Skin And Beauty Products
Certain skin products can cause acne. The reason is that some cosmetics and products are comedogenic; that is, they can clog the skin pore and cause it to swell. Sometimes, it might be the ingredients in the products and not the product itself.
Products with high oil content can worsen the condition. This is why you should always buy water-based and non-comedogenic beauty products.
For more information on all of the above factors, read the article on my blog about the causes of acne.
Types Of Acne
Acne is classified based on its severity into noninflammatory and inflammatory acne.
This type of acne includes whiteheads and blackheads. Like the name, noninflammatory acne does not swell. As a result, they are easy to treat with over-the-counter medications. They are also referred to as the minor forms of acne.
Blackheads: Blackheads occur when the pore is clogged by dead skin cells and oil. However, the top of the pore does not close but stays open despite being clogged. Also referred to as open comedones, blackheads have a peculiar black color on the skin’s surface.
Whiteheads: Whiteheads or closed comedones, like whiteheads, form when the pores are clogged. However, the top is closed, and a small bump protrudes out of the skin. Unlike blackheads, it is a little bit more difficult to treat since the pores are closed.
The second acne class is the inflammatory ones that appear with bumps and visible swellings on the skin. Unlike noninflammatory acne, bacteria play an essential part in the clog. Hence, it causes a deep infection under the skin.
On the scale of severity, noninflammatory is a more severe form of acne that will likely end in scarring or other complications if not managed.
Papules and pustules: Both forms of acne have mild and moderate severity. A papule is a bump beneath the skin with pink, solid, and tender swelling on the skin. Unlike whiteheads, they do not have a visible center. It is an advanced form of blackheads or whiteheads and can be from irritating either of the two. On the other hand, pustules or pimples appear larger with a defined circular center. The center is filled with pus, and it has a red or pink base.
Nodules and cysts: Both are the most severe of acne. Nodules are painful, hard, inflamed lumps beneath the skin. However, they don’t have a visible head or center. It occurs when the clogged pores damage cells and tissues beneath the skin. Hence, it can cause significant skin complications if not managed. Likewise, cysts appear as large, painful, soft, white, or red lumps beneath the skin. Like pimples, they are filled with pus. However, they are the most severe acne form and can require surgery, chemical peels, or extraction to remove large cysts.
For more detailed information on any of these types, refer to my article about the different types of acne.
Is Acne Curable Or Not?
Simple Care Routine
Simple routines like washing your face frequently with an oil-free washer is an ideal way to cure acne. You should also avoid tight-fitting clothing and remove all makeup before you go to bed. Note, you should not use makeup that contains oil and should shower after exercising.
Plus, it would help if you washed your pillows and beddings, and maintain a healthy diet with sufficient rest.
Over The Counter Medications
OTC medications like creams and lotions can be helpful against mild acne. They include Resorcinol, Salicylic acid, Benzoyl peroxide, Azelaic acid, and Retin A.
Treatment Of Severe Acne
Oral antibiotics and contraceptives can help in treating severe acne. Your doctor can also prescribe topical antimicrobials and corticosteroid injection to reduce acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammations.
Apart from this, care routines that you can practice include:
Washing the hands and face frequently.
Not popping or irritating your acne.
Holding phones away from your skin.
Carefully selecting your beauty products.
So, Is Acne A Disease?
Acne is a skin disease that can also manifest as a condition that affects the state of wellness. There are different forms of acne, ranging from mild to severe. Hence, it can manifest as a slight skin condition that won’t raise an eyebrow or one that requires urgent medical attention.