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acneWhat is Acne?

Everyone has an answer in mind when you ask what acne is.  The problem is that most of those answers would be wrong.  Acne is a skin condition that affects not only the skin, but also the emotional well-being of those who have it. 

If you get acne, chances are you are going through puberty or are getting ready to.  On the other hand, there are people who have acne in their twenties, and even up into their fifties.  Women often have adult acne.   

Acne is a disease of the skin.  When you have acne, you may have a variety of different lesions on your body because of it.  These lesions are all caused because pores in the skin have become blocked. 

Acne appears most often on the face.  It can also show up on the chest.  People can have it on their backs.  In certain types of acne, the lesions can show up on the arms and thighs.  Acne can be especially troublesome in areas where hair follicles are plentiful, in a fold of skin, such as the underarm. 

If you or someone you know has acne, it does not make sense to take it lightly.  This is especially true if the lesions are extremely severe.  Teenagers, or anyone who has acne for that matter, can have a hard time emotionally because of acne. 

Acne shows up as pustules, or pus-filled pimples.  These are the ones that people squeeze to get out the white center.  If you have pustules, they may rupture and spill their contents into the nearby skin tissues.  There are also papules.  These are small red dots that can be swollen and inflamed. 

You might think that blackheads are filled with dirt, but that is not the case.  The dark color is from the oil that shows through from the inside of the pore.  Blackheads are also called open comedos. 

A whitehead is also known as a closed comedo.  That is because the hair follicle is totally blocked.  Instead of a dark appearance, a whitehead will be light, sometimes even pink.  It looks like a tiny bump in your skin. 

Sometimes there are cysts.  A cyst is just a pocket of skin that is filled with air, pus, or other materials.  These acne lesions can become quite severe.  People who try to squeeze a cyst will get more than they bargained for.  The skin around the cyst will most likely get more damaged.  Scarring may even result. 

Nodules are very large areas of acne lesions.  They are always tender and swollen.  They rupture into the skin and cause inflammation.  If you do nothing to take control of this problem, it will likely end in deep scarring.  This is a severe lesion of acne. 

Acne can be treated, and it should be treated.  If you have a few common zits or a face-full of deep nodules, there is something you can do about it.  If you need to go to a doctor, it is important to do that.  One thing you will find out is what kind of acne it is that you have. 


The Different Types of Acne

You may be surprised to discover that there are several different types of acne.  The most common one is Acne Vulgaris.  This is the acne that most teenagers get.  It is marked by whiteheads, where pores are fully blocked off, and blackheads, where the pores are only partially blocked.  Papules are also present, which are tender, red bumps.  They have no head at all.  Pustules are inflamed, and are usually called zits. 

It is very hard to cope with severe Acne Vulgaris.  It is even worse than common acne.  There are nodules that are large, painful lumps under the surface of the skin.  Cysts are similar, but are usually filled with pus. 

Acne Conglabata is even more severe than the usual Acne Vulgaris.  Large areas of lesions which are often joined together are a part of the condition.  There are also a great number of blackheads.  Men get the condition, primarily in their twenties. 

Before a young man has Acne Conglabata, he often starts out with Acne Fulminans.  Nodules and cysts abound.  The thing that makes Acne Fulminans unique is that people who have it usually run a fever and have joint pain. 

Pyoderma Faciale is a skin disorder found mostly in women between 20 and 40 years of age.  The woman may have nodules and pustules.  There may be some garden variety sores, as well.  The condition usually lasts no more than a year. 

When a person is on antibiotics for a long time, he or she can get a bacterial infection as a result.  This is what happens with Gram-Negative Folliculitis.  The antibiotics used to treat Acne Vulgaris can make this happen, and when it does, pustules and cysts form. 

Acne Rosecea is an ailment that seems similar to Acne Vulgaris.  It is somewhat different.  For one thing, blackheads are not a symptom.  Also, it usually only happens to people who are over 30 years old. 

The symptoms are slightly different, too.  Its red rash is confined to the face.  Aside from the pimples and blemishes, there may also be unsightly blood vessels that come to the surface.  The nose can swell up and get red, and this is often the cause of what people take to be the facial features of a drunken person. 

Perioral Dermatitis involves the mouth, chin, and around the eyes.  It comes in the form of scaling, red bumps, and pustules.  It is most often seen in young women.  Corticosteroid Acne is a disorder that is directly linked to the use of corticosteroids.  The pustules appear not only on the face, chest and back, but on the arms and thighs as well.  People can develop body hair or experience the thinning of the hair on their heads.  Women can stop menstruating because of Corticosteroid Acne. 

Of all the kinds of acne, Acne Vulgaris is the most prevalent.  This just means common acne.  Most teenagers who are bothered by acne have this kind.  While different forms of acne are variations of the common form, a look at Acne Vulgaris will answer questions about most types of acne. 


Statistics About Acne

While acne is not a dangerous disease, it affects a large number of people.  It can make a big difference not only in the way you look, but also in the way you feel and relate to others.  A look at the statistics will give you an idea of how big the problem is. 

There are over 60 million Americans who have current acne problems at any given moment.  This very large group of acne sufferers comes from many different age groups, races, economic circumstances, and both genders.  It does not matter who you are, you could get acne some time in your life. 

Of these 60 million people, 20 million people have acne that is so bad that they will have scars from it.  Acne can be treated for any of them.  Yet, over 40% of them will do nothing about their acne.  30% will use an over-the-counter medication.  20% will go to a skin care center, and 11% will actually go to see a doctor. 

Of all adults, 20% suffer from acne.  When a condition is so widespread that one in five adults has it, it means that it is a significant problem.  If you are an adult with acne, you are not alone. 

To show how common acne is among adults you only need to look at the statistics about one medication.  Tretinoin is a medication that can be used for either sun damage to skin, or for acne.  75% of the prescriptions written for patients aged 33 years old were written for acne and not for sun damage.  For the patients aged 40 years old, 63% of the prescriptions were written for acne. 

On the other hand, 85% of teenagers have acne of some degree.  Although many adults have acne, it is easy to see why people think of acne as being a teenager's disease.  The fact that there are so few teenagers who do not have acne shows that it is definitely a problem that teenagers can relate to. 

Of these teenagers who have the condition, 25% have acne bad enough to cause permanent scarring.  Thus, the condition will follow them into adulthood unless they expend the time and money to get the scars removed. 

In fact, acne happens to be the most prevalent skin disease in America.  There are more people with acne than with psoriasis, eczema, or any other kind of dermatitis.  Acne causes pain, discomfort, and emotional upheaval to millions of people every year. 

On the next page we will delve into The Causes and Effects of Acne.


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