Acne can be upsetting and even depressing for many people, especially teens. Acne affects practically everybody at one time or another. In almost all cases acne clears up and leaves the skin smooth and normal. But, in a few cases it leaves holes or marks on the skin.

What precisely is acne? It can be described as a condition affecting the sebaceous glands under your skin. Such oil glands are located at skin pores or close to the roots of hair follicles and they emit sebum beneath the skin. The sebum flows up to the surface of the skin. Sebum consists primarily of triglycerides and fatty acids, wax, and dead fat-producing cells.

Acne occurs when there is an infection or inflammation of these oil glands under the skin. This often begins at adolescence when there is an increase of hormones like testosterone in the course of puberty. This happens for young people of both genders. Anxiety produces hormones, like cortisol, that also aggravates acne. For most people, acne tends to vanish by the early twenties. But, for a few people it lasts well into their forties.

The most prevalent expressions of acne are whiteheads and blackheads. These are usually not the result of a lack of cleanliness. More accurately, these are caused by excess oils which have accumulated in the sebaceous gland’s duct. Oils which have an opening to the skin can oxidize and look dark or black and are called blackheads. If no oxygen can get to the sebum the color remains light and the area is known as a whitehead or a pimple or zit.

Over-the-counter medicines are often sufficient to help clean up acne. More serious acne may need stronger drugs prescribed by a medical doctor. Common OTC medicines used as a mild acne treatment include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide as well as an antibacterial, Triclosan. You will get these medicines as a cream or gel and they will help remove clogs and let the pores drain properly. After the pores are unblocked, any bacterial infections can then be attacked. It is most effective to cleanse the face with non-alkaline solutions before applying the medicines so as to be sure the medicines come in direct contact with the skin rather than a surface layer of oils.

Your family health care professional or a dermatologist can help if the over-the-counter solutions prove ineffective. They can prescribe stronger formulations that can help lessen acne and possible scaring. Your dermatologist can carry out a range of procedures like dermabrasion that removes surface skin, light therapy, laser treatment, or surgery.

Bear in mind that acne is common to almost everybody and is a part of growing to maturity. After a while you can look back and recall it as a distant memory. Easy treatments for affected areas usually are effective.

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