What is acne and what causes it?
Acne is an inflammatory disease of the pilosebaceous unit (PSU) which contains the sebaceous gland and a hair follicle. When the pore to the PSU becomes blocked by other cells, sebum (an oily substance that lubricates our hair and skin and is made by the sebaceous gland) can’t reach the surface of the skin. This allows bacteria to grow inside the pore. The bacteria attract white blood cells eventually causing the entire pore to become inflamed. Subsequently, the follicle wall breaks down and the sebum, skin cells, and bacteria erupt to form lesions or pimples.
Types of acne:
Acne has many forms. These may be interrelated, meaning they develop from one form to the other, or may be independent in origin. Comedonal acne includes closed comedos (whiteheads) and open comedos (blackheads). In another type, you may see inflamed papules (typical pimples) which shows redness but no pus is visible. Pustules are bumps in which you can see pus. Cystic acne contains pus and runs deep in the skin. These can be painful and can cause scarring.
What can be done for my acne?
Treatment for acne varies depending on the type and severity of your lesions, as well your skin type, gender, age, and lifestyle. Various treatment options that may be used alone, but frequently in conjunction include:
- Laser resurfacing or fractional laser for scarring
- Chemical peels
- Topical antibiotics, antibacterials, and retinoids
- Oral antibiotics
- Intralesional steroid injections
- Oral contraceptives
- Androgen (hormone) receptor blocking drug
- Accutane (isotretinoin) oral medication
- Surgical improvement of scars
- Injection of fillers to elevate depressed scars
- Photodynamic therapy