Acne is a predominantly skin disorder during puberty, characterized by pustules, pimples and blackheads. It affects almost all adolescents and many adults. The cause is usually a hormonal change, but there are also other factors in question. Read all about acne here – symptoms, causes and prognosis.
Acne is the most common skin disease worldwide. It occurs mainly in adolescents during puberty. When asked “What exactly is acne?”, There is no exact answer, because the disease occurs in various forms. Mostly in the face pustules, pimples and blackheads, and mainly on the forehead and on the chin. Acne on the back and the décolleté also occurs, but is less common.
Slight forms of expression can usually be treated with washing and care series from the drugstore or the pharmacy itself. Severe acne must be treated by the dermatologist.
Almost every adolescent is more or less affected by acne. Acne in adults (acne tarda) is rarer, according to recent studies, it occurs in about four percent of all adults. About one third of those affected require medical treatment.
Acne vulgaris: The most common type
Acne vulgaris is the most popular form of acne and is also called “common acne”. It is caused by the hormonal changes during puberty; Boys are usually more affected than girls.
If acne vulgaris is treated well, it usually heals quickly. Untreated, it usually forms by itself until the age of 25 back. In some cases, however, symptoms can persist even up to the age of 40 years.
Depending on severity, acne vulgaris is divided into three sub-forms:
- Acne comedonica: The acne comedonica is the lightest form and affects only the face. It is characterized by blackheads that can ignite when expressed.
- Acne papulopustulosa: The acne papulopustulosa is characterized by blackheads and inflamed pimples and is classified as a medium-heavy form. Often the face and back are affected.
- Acne conglobata: Acne conglobata is the most severe form of the disease. In this case, the pimples form proper nodules, which become easily inflamed and leave visible scars on healing.
Other forms of acne
Other forms of illness can arise if the skin does not tolerate certain substances contained in care products, medicines or food. This includes:
- Contact, cosmetic or Chloro-acne
- Medication Acne (Acne medicamentosa)
- Doping acne
These forms of acne are special forms of an allergic reaction and can be specifically controlled by the substance on which the skin reacts, is discontinued. To determine the cause of the disease, allergy tests can help the doctor.
Other forms of acne include neonatal acne, infant acne, Mallorca acne and acne inversa. In colloquial terms, neonatal and infant acne are often collectively referred to as infant acne or baby acne. This is not medically correct.
In the neonatal acne (Acne neonatum) occur small blackheads mainly on the cheeks. These can exist before birth or form during the first weeks of life. Boys are more often affected than girls. Therapy is not necessary because the neonatal acne will resolve itself within a few weeks. About 20 percent of all infants are affected by this skin disease.
Infant acne (Acne infantum) occurs between the ages of 3 and 6, more often in boys than in girls. It is characterized by small yellowish pimples, which form mainly on the forehead and cheeks. This can lead to scars. The infant acne should therefore always be treated by a doctor. Most people with infant acne develop acne vulgaris later in life.
Another special form is the so-called Mallorca Acne (Acne aestivalis). It is not a typical acne disease, but actually a light allergy or a special form of sun eczema (polymorphic photodermatosis).
In Mallorca Acne, small pustules form predominantly on the décolleté and on the arms and legs, very rarely in the face. An unpleasant side effect is itching and a strong redness, which occur only in some cases. The cause of Mallorca acne is a reaction of sunlight or UV radiation with the sebum of the skin or with the fats in sunscreen creams, which are harmful to the skin. Scientists also suspect a genetic predisposition. Especially at risk are young people (women more often than men) with a greasy skin type.
Most Mallorca acne forms at the beginning of a vacation or in the first days of summer, since the skin is not yet used to the sun’s rays. You can do little against them. Usually it heals on its own within a few days. It is important to avoid re-exposure to the sun during these days. Corneal (keratolytic) therapy may help to heal people who have an acne predisposition.
Above all, take precautions with Mallorca Acne: You should slowly get your skin used to the sun. In addition, greasy lotion or sunscreen should be avoided. Certain manufacturers offer sunscreen products for allergic skin that help prevent Mallorca acne.
The acne inversa is a severe form of acne and usually occurs in the armpit and genital area. Read more in the article Acne inversa.
In acne, a small red dot or nodule forms in the skin first. This feels like a thickening of the skin. Such a blackhead (comedo) arises when the excretory duct of a sebaceous gland in the skin clogged by keratinization. The sebum builds up, the blackhead is visible as a small white dot. If such a blackhead breaks, air enters the sebum, causing the blackhead to turn black. When bacteria are added, inflammation develops – a “blooming” pimple develops.
The pimples and blackheads form mainly in the face, and preferably in the so-called T-zone, ie on the forehead, chin and bridge of the nose. Depending on the predisposition and skin type, severe acne can also show on the cheeks. Rarely are the back and chest affected.
You should consult a dermatologist if you notice the following symptoms:
- Big, sore pimples
- Sudden deterioration of the complexion
- Heavy mental stress from the pimples
- acne scars
How acne scars and how to remove them can be found in the article Acne Scars.
Acne: causes and risk factors
Acne can be caused by several factors.
The most common form, the Acne vulgaris, is usually hormonal. The causative agents here are the male sex hormones called androgens. These are produced not only in men, but to a lesser extent in women, especially during puberty. But as they occur in men in larger quantities, men are also more affected by the skin disease.
The androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands of the skin to an increased sebum production. Normally, this sebum is released through the pores to the outside. During the hormonal change in puberty but also increases the production of horn material, which closes the excretory ducts. So the sebum accumulates under the skin surface, and there are so-called closed blackheads. In these, the whitish-looking sebum can pour.
At some point, the skin ruptures on the duct. By contact with atmospheric oxygen, the blackhead turns black. That means: black blackheads are open blackheads.
The sebum in the blackheads “attracts” bacteria. They decompose the sebum and produce fission products that promote inflammatory reactions (“blooming pimples”) and stimulate the formation of new blackheads.
Hormone changes occur not only during puberty, but also during pregnancy, menopause and discontinuation of the birth control pill. At these times, as well as during menstruation, when the skin is more greasy, women often experience an onset of acne again.
Other risk factors
But not only the hormones are responsible for the development of acne. Studies also show that one hereditary predisposition as well as a strong one mental stress and stress can support the development of the skin disease.
In addition, fats in cosmetics, drug ingredients, and certain foods can stimulate sebum production or obstruct the ducts. To the drugsthat can cause an acne include:
- Corticosteroid (cortisone)
- anabolic steroids
- Adrenocorticotropin (ACTH)
- Vitamins B2, B6, B12
- Cancer treatment drugs (EGF receptor agonists)
For some people, too nutrition promote the development of acne. In this regard, for example, are very high fat foods or chocolate. However, in studies this relationship has not yet been proven.
Various factors such as moisture, cigarette smoke and scratching on the pimples can worsen the symptoms.
Acne: examinations and diagnosis
Acne is easy to diagnose because of its external appearance. The pustules, blackheads and pimples are usually a clear symptom.
However, before you start treatment on your own, you should still consult a dermatologist to exclude another skin condition. In addition, only the specialist can determine which acne form it is and which is the best therapy.
If the doctor suspects that there is an infection, he may remove some of the secretions from the blackheads to have them analyzed. It shows if and if so which bacteria cause the infection. After that, the treatment depends.
Everything important to therapy read in the article acne treatment.
Acne: disease course and prognosis
In most cases acne heals by itself until the age of 25. But there are also cases in which the disease persists longer. Stress and psychological stress can strongly influence the course of the disease. Even in old age, it can also lead to a renewed outbreak in acute stress situations acne come.