Acne Vulgaris is one of the most embarrassing conditions because it's manifestations are ugly and painful. Acne is the result of follicle blockages and it is quite widespread and it's mostly encountered at teen age, when the body goes through the transformations that turn us from children to adults. For most people, acne goes away almost completely after we pass that age. However, there are cases in which the skin lesions never disappear completely, their evolution following a sort of a ladder, from simple comedons to papules, pustules or even cysts. These cysts are in fact nodules, which led to a new name for a variant of the condition, nodulocystic acne. This is the most severe type of acne and sometimes patients have to undergo surgery in order to have the lesions removed.

Causes of Acne Vulgaris

In the incipient stage, acne lesions get formed when the sebum secretions clog up the pores and a microcomedo appears at the base of the follicle. Then it gets larger, as more sebum accumulates, and it can become a blackhead or a whitehead.

Blackheads are open comedons and if left alone, they don't hurt and don't change their size. They only make the skin look a bit dirty when seen from close distance. Unfortunately, some people, especially girls, try to squeeze those blackheads, in order to get rid of them. If this operation is done with dirty fingers, it may lead to infections, then the blackheads will suffer an inflammatory process which may end in surgery rooms.

Whiteheads are closed comedons. These are the ones that we also know as pimples. Popping pimples is a common practice amongst teens, and some of them will be sorry for their whole life for popping and squeezing their pimples, because of the acne scars that never go away by themselves.

Although an acne treatment to cure it for good hasn't been discovered, specialists managed to come up with a list of acne causes, based on experience with numerous patients.

The main causes of acne seem to be the following:
  • Family history: if in a family there are members who are acneic, children in that family are more probable to develop acne even from younger age.
  • Bacteria: An anaerobic bacteria that lives in the pores is guilty for causing the acne.
  • Hormonal changes: menstrual cycle can cause some acne manifestations is women, even if they aren't in their teens anymore. Usually, this type of acne is not severe and the pimples go away quickly, without getting infected or causing any inflammation.
  • Improper skin hygiene: during the daytime, our face skin accumulates dirt and dead cells. If we don't clean the skin thoroughly each evening, this dirt could obstruct the pores, therefore leading to blackheads formation or to infections.
  • Anabolic steroids, androgens, lithium medication or amphetamines use: some drugs have been proven to generate acne as a secondary effect.
  • Stress: as stress is becoming more and more a problem these days, scientists are researching it in order to see not only its causes, but also its effects on the human body. Such research suggested that ance can be one of the consequences of a stressful life. However, there are no solid proves yet to support this claim.

Acne Treatment and Control Overview

Although there's no cure for acne, this doesn't mean that if you are one of the sufferers you don't have to go to the doctor. There's no cure, but there are treatments that help reducing the frequency of acne attacks, the severity of the lesions and the probability of scars. This is why it's not recommended to try all sort of natural home remedies for acne that your neighbor or your friend might share with you, but schedule an appointment with a dermatologist.

Topical treatments for acne are amongst the most popular, as they fall in the category of OTC medication, which means over-the-counter, no-prescription selling drugs. The active substance in these ointments can be benzoyl peroxide, triclosan or clorhexidine gluconate. Other topical treatments for acne can be antibiotics such as tetracycline or erythromycin. These ones have some contraindications, so the doctor's advice is strongly recommended before using them.

Other classes of acne treatments include oral antibiotics, hormonal treatments and oral or topical retinoids.

Phototherapy with blue and red light seems to be efficient in mild to moderate acne patients.

The last resort in treating acne is surgery. Laser surgery can also be used to reduce acne scars. As studies have shown contradictory results, the FDA approved only very few companies that provide acne laser treatments. There were even cases when some laser devices were recalled, because the patients ended up with severe skin burns instead of getting rid of their acne scars.

Home remedies for pimples are another popular form of treatment for acne. This is because people get desperate, as acne has major implications on the self-esteem levels and on the social life of the sufferers.

Although you can't get rid of your acne for good, at least you can be sure to ease your life by respecting several principles, the major one being hygiene.

  • Always keep your skin in perfect cleanliness, never sleep with your make-up on, like many teenage girls are tempted to do because they are too tired to remove their makeup before going to bed.
  • Try to watch your skin's reactions to the foods you're eating. If you notice, for example, that each time after you eat tomatoes, you get pimples on your face, then you should give up tomatoes for good. It's not that easy to observe and eliminate from the diet those foods that harm, but if you're keen on getting rid of acne, you'll manage to do it. Keeping a food diary can help you tracking your results, for a good acne control and management.
  • Never touch your acne lesions. If you have blackheads and you hate them, go to a cosmetic cabinet to have them removed in a clean environment, by somebody who knows exactly what she's doing and who uses sterile tools. Remember that squeezing and popping pimples can lead to infections, which would leave behing those ugly scars. This applies also for the case you tear off your crusts from older acne lesions that were squeezed.