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What is acne?

Acne is the most common skin disorder treated in the Australia. Although it is typically associated with the teen population, acne can affect those in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond.

Up to 80 percent of adolescents develop acne to some degree. It usually develops earlier in girls than in boys, but it affects boys more frequently and more severely.

Acne can persist into mid-adulthood in some individuals and can even be present into late adulthood. Scarring affects 95% of acne sufferers to some degree. In an American Association of Dermatologists (AAD) study, it was found that acne is especially distressing for teens, causing both emotional damage as well as physical scars. The AAD also found that a misconception exists in some segments of society that adults with acne are socially, intellectually, and sexually immature. The study also determined that acne sufferers:

  • Are less likely to involve themselves in social activities
  • Are less likely to wear swimsuits
  • Are more likely to complain about pain
  • Have a higher incidence of neuroses, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, anger, paranoia, insomnia, hypersomnia, anorexia, hyperphagia, and social isolation
  • Are more likely to seek medical care
  • Are more likely to commit suicide.

Acne is not curable, but it is highly treatable.

What is acne?

Acne is the common term for plugged or clogged pores, which results in blackheads and whiteheads, pimples, and deeper nodules and cysts in the skin. Many myths have developed over the years about the causes of acne. Many people believe that certain foods make them break out and that abstaining from these foods can prevent breakouts. However, scientific research has not shown chocolate, fries, and oily diets to cause breakouts.

Whether acne is affected by other dietary factors is still uncertain. In 2002, Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, published a study identifying a relationship between acne and diets high in sugar. Study subjects with high sugar diets developed an imbalance between two important hormones in the follicles, stimulating abnormal follicular exfoliation, resulting in acne. Research on the relationship between diet and acne continues. Dirt on the skin also does not cause acne, according to studies. In fact, excessive scrubbing, especially with abrasive cleansers and facial sponges, may actually exacerbate the condition.

Base Causes

There are two known base causes of acne: hormones and heredity.

Hormones can cause acne in any skin type, and at any age. The following conditions can cause stimulation (or imbalance) of androgen hormones into the pilosebaceous unit, causing inflammation and resulting in acne:

Stress stimulates an increase in androgen production, which can cause breakouts (See Physiology of Acne).

Pre-menstrual drop in estrogen causes a hormonal imbalance, resulting in the same affect as too much androgen.

Birth Control Pills can work as described in the previous two examples, depending on the specific pharmacology of the brand. Some birth-control drugs work by adding androgens while others reduce them. Some newer brands are designed to balance the hormones, and some even include anti-acne ingredients.

Pregnancy can cause hormonal imbalance and acne even in women who never had it before. For others, pregnancy actually eliminates pre-menstrual breakouts. In either case, the root cause is a hormonal imbalance, and the etiology of the condition is the same. Unfortunately for those who suffer from acne during pregnancy, their pre-natal condition prevents aggressive treatments of the acne. Some women experience acne breakouts only during certain trimesters. Others have it until after giving birth, when their hormones level out. Whatever the etiology of pregnancy-related acne, DermaQuest™ recommends customers are refered to a trained dermatologist for acne care.

Menopause can bring about an imbalance of hormones that can cause acne breakouts with the same etiology as birth-control or pregnancy-related acne. Balancing the hormones can eliminate the condition temporarily, but lasting relief may require concurrent care from a dermatologist, an endocrinologist, and an esthetician.

Medications can cause hormonal imbalance and breakouts, but the actual cause depends on the pharmacology of the specific drug. If substitute medications are not available, information on treating this type of breakout can often be found in drug information literature.

Heredity can define a pre-disposition to acne from overly oily skin and slower release of cells from the walls of the follicles. The following circumstances can trigger hereditary acne:

Uncontrolled oiliness can result in breakouts due to follicle irritation caused by surges of sebum from the sebaceous gland. Reducing the oil deposits is the goal for these clients.

Comedogenic products (acne cosmetics) clog follicles, causing inflammatory or non-inflammatory acne. The offending product must be identified and removed from the client’s daily regimen.

Over-treated skin can respond with breakouts just like non-treated skin. The key is to find a product that will control breakouts with-out stripping the skin. Over-treated skin is typically dehydrated and thus needs hydration as the first treatment step.

Leaving makeup on overnight will clog follicles, especially comedogenic makeup.

Environmental causes are specific to the client’s surroundings and activities. The following environmental factors can trigger breakouts quickly, depending on the individual:

  • Heat and humidity
  • Sun exposure
  • Environmental exposure

Active sports - Many who participate heavily in active sports have increased breakouts due to increased androgenic activity (See Stress and Base Causes).

It is estimated that 40-50 percent of adult American women are affected by persistent acne.