Acne Often seen as just an affliction of teenagers
Acne can actually affect people for their entire life, and as such can pose serious self-esteem issues for individuals. The disease is essentially a repeated blocking and subsequent infection of the sebaceous glands, which produce oils in the hair follicles. When operating normally, the glands give our hair the oils it needs as a coating.
When the glands become blocks, bacteria can breed inside them, causing them to swell. This is when we see a zit (pimple).
But what causes the sebaceous glands to block? The biggest clues to how acne starts come from the fact that it is most common in people undergoing hormonal changes, such as adolescents undergoing puberty and women at certain points in their menstrual cycle. The increased production of certain hormones causes the glands to enlarge and produce more oils.
They’re then too large for all of this so-called “sebum” to escape as normal. Infection is caused by bacteria feeding on dead skin cells contained within the glands. These would normally be ejected along with the sebum, avoiding infection.
Treating acne can involve either topical treatments or the taking of antibiotics. Some lotions use fairly noxious chemicals to kill the bacteria and prevent infections from starting. These are sold in regular pharmacies and are used as a daily face wash. Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to systemically prevent the bacteria from living in the sebaceous glands, but this is only done in severe cases. One thing to remember is that acne seems to have little to do with basic hygiene — the infection is internal, so washing the face regularly won’t make the condition go away. Conversely, someone with acne doesn’t necessarily have a hygiene problem. This misconception plays a significant part in the self-esteem issues attached to acne.