Acne vulgaris is a common condition around the world, more so in adolescents. It’s important to note that having a few pimples doesn’t mean one has acne; instead an entire clinical picture defines the condition.
Acne is more common on parts of the body that have numerous oil glands (sebaceous glands) like the:
1. Oily skin
Superimposed on all of this there is inflammation due to an underlying infection. This entire process begins with androgens which are hormones, of which testosterone is the prime example. Both sexes secrete this and more so during puberty.
Androgens increase oil secretion by glands that can cause them to clog, giving rise to black and white heads. To complicate this even further, the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes thrives in oily environments and because it begins to grow, inflammation sets in to complete the clinical picture. Long-term acne can cause scarring and also negatively impact self-esteem.
The impact of diet on acne is still under debate, but some studies have shown that acne can be worsened by eating a high amount of carbohydrates (sugars). There is also a correlation with obesity.
Treatment of acne is based on its severity.
1. Mild to moderate: topical benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid formulations can be used.
2. Severe: antibiotics can be prescribed to fight against the causative organism or vitamin A derivative can be used topically or orally.
It’s very important for females to know that these vitamin A compounds can be extremely damaging to a growing fetus and hence cannot be used during pregnancy. In fact, a negative pregnancy test is required before a prescription can even be written or refills can be issued.
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