Acne is the most common skin condition to affect majority of the population to some extent at some point.
What is Acne?
Acne is when hair follicles within the skin clog up causing an infection in the sebaceous gland, this is where oil is produced which helps keep our skin’s protective barrier in tact. In a healthy skin, just enough sebum is produced to protect and moisturise the skin. Hormonal fluctuations, stress, illness, medications, lifestyle choices and diet can lead to an increase in the sebaceous gland activity causing more oil. An accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and a lack of the ability for the body to fight bacteria, and genetics are also contributing culprits in leading to the formation of acne. Acne tends to be more active and present in adolescent years as the increase of hormones; testosterone in boys and progesterone in girls. It usually forms on the face , neck, chest, back and shoulders. Acne if left untreated can becomes a hindrance and will affect self esteem and confidence and time prolongs. If Acne is treated quickly and effectively it can prevent it worsening and causing unsightly scarring which can form from trauma of picking and the skins healing process.
What does acne look like?
The appearance of Acne on the skin can be quite unsightly especially if left untreated. It presents as red, inflamed pustules and pimples, usually congestion accumulates such as blackheads, whiteheads, and milia in some later severe cases blue sausage type cysts or nodules lay under the in. The skin may also be quite oily (but not always). It can also be very sore to touch especially blind pustule type cysts.
What causes Acne?
There is usually a combination of factors that play apart in creating a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and Acne to thrive.
Hormones play a large roll, during puberty is typically when we see acne occurring and also within adulthood when we have a hormonal shift during pregnancy, menopause or suffer from POCS, also know as Polycystic Syndrome. If one or both of your parents have suffered from acne there is also an increased chance that you too may show signs, and the earlier treatment begins the better.
A Diet high in sugar, processed foods and dairy, seem to feed the bacteria associated with acne.
High Stress Levels which increase adrenalin and cortisone into the body may also trigger the sebaceous glands to become over active.
Poor Skin Health Hygiene
Two types of Acne
There are 2 different types of acne, non-inflammatory and inflammatory.
Non-inflammatory acne is diagnosed when blackheads and whiteheads are present but no real ‘active acne’. This type usually is NOT painful.
Inflammatory acne is where papules, pustules, nodules and cysts are present. This is usually quite painful and sensitive to touch.
Four stages / grades of Acne
The severity of acne is categorised by being graded from 1-4. One being least sever and easier to treat and Four most sever and the hardest to treat.
Grade 1 Acne Simplex is when there are breakouts with small papules occasionally and blackheads and whiteheads present.
Grade 2 Acne Simplex is where there is blackheads, whitehead with more inflammatory breakout that grade one with papules and pustules that are more consistent.
Grade 3 Acne Vulgaris is constant breakout with an inflammatory acne, there will be papules, pustules, deep blockheads and whitehead and at times nodules.
Grade 4 Acne Vulgaris is the last and worst type of acne, heavily inflamed with nodules and cysts, very painful.
Acne is usually a combination of
Whiteheads – whiteheads are clogged pores that are not inflamed. They are small bumps under the skin that do not have a head.
Blackheads – Blackheads are a non-inflamed clogged pore –the difference from whiteheads is that they are open and to look at a black dot on the surface of the skin, usually found on the nose and chin. The black dot is the oxidation of the oil secretion from the skin.
Milia – hard, white bumps that are usually found around the occipital area of the face, resemble a small white pearl and can become quite deep if left for a long period of time.
Papules – are when a whitehead or blackheads start to get irritated becoming red and swollen. You will feel the inflammation as the skin surrounding the tissue become irritated and will become quite sore and tender.
Pustules– an inflamed hard lumps full of pus that has the defining white or yellow centre, they are extremely sore due to the pressure building up under the skin and resemble a tiny volcano.
Nodules and cysts-much larger than papules and postures and are large bumps under the skin. The difference between these 2 very sore types of inflammation is that nodules are not filled with pus and cysts are. Both are very painful. This happens when the pore or plug in the skin ruptures leaking fluid near the surface causing it to inflame.
Treatments Practise and Prevention
There are various treatments that can assist with the different types and grades of acne, usually in sever cases topical and oral antibiotics is prescribed by a doctor, in some cases Roaccutane which is extremely harsh and has terrible side effects like light sensitivity, depression and server dryness.
Salon treatments can be very successful and we use a combination approach when treating Acne and Acne symptoms at Reflections which will be discussed in a detailed consultation with one of our Skin Therapists. We use a combination of our unique skin health system which treats the dermis by changing the molecular structure of the skin cells, cell preservation philosophy, treatments that refine heal, feed and nurture. We believe that treating acne is a process and we want to treat the ’cause’ not just cover up the symptoms.
Treatments that can help the appearance of the skin include Microdermabrasion, Reflections Sapphire LED blue light and Vitamin Infusions.