Understanding Acne

AcneAcne is actually a wide variety of complex disease states, from small bumps to red inflammatory nodules and pustules, all influenced by genetic and hormonal makeup. To help understand it, we start with the fact that the human body is covered with millions of hairs, the vast majority so small they can’t be seen. But you can see the pores where the hairs protrude. And that’s where the trouble begins.

At the bottom of each pore is a sebaceous oil gland, found in greatest concentration on the face, chest, shoulders, and back – areas where acne is most likely to occur. Sometimes, the cells that line these pores go slightly haywire, usually when hormonal changes occur, especially during adolescence. The cells will clump together and plug the pore, which then appears as a whitehead or blackhead. 

The plug blocks sebaceous oil, which is unable to escape from the pore. The oil builds up and forms a nodule. Bacteria that live in the skin migrate into the area, using the oil as a food source. The result of this bacterial presence is inflammation, which attracts white cells that eventually die and turn into pus.

This disease process affects people in many different ways, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. The most effective treatment starts with consulting a board-certified dermatologist to evaluate what type of acne you have and determine the right combination of therapies.

Among the many effective therapies for mild to moderate acne, I particularly like the completely painless, FDA-approved Aramis laser treatment. Six to ten treatments will typically show significant results. Alternatively, products containing both benzoyl peroxide and a topical antibiotic involve a potent combination that addresses both the bacteria and the anti-inflammatory aspects with an ability to break up the plug in the pore.

Acne can be a debilitating problem, but with a qualified dermatologist and the extensive range of available treatments, any sufferer can find great physical and emotional relief.

Published on 07/30/2009 | Last updated on 11/14/2017