Acne can affect anyone from a newborn baby to a sixty year old adult. Even cats have been known to suffer from it! So, no matter who you are, the chances of a blemish breakout at some stage in your life is very high, with only a few lucky ones escaping adolescence without developing at least a few zits.
Around 17 million people in the US are thought to have some form of acne; 85% are in their teens and early 20s. And us Brits aren't far behind. Sadly, there is very little proven scientific research into what actually causes acne and what the most effective treatments are. The most common type of acne (acne vulgaris) mainly affects adolescents but it can persist or even become more severe in adulthood.
Acne is basically the disorder of the pilosebaceous unit, which is made up of a hair, sebaceous gland, and a hair. You will find these units all over the body except on the lower lip, palms, soles and tops of the feet. The parts of the body with the greatest number of these units are the face, upper neck and chest, which are also the areas most prone to acne.
The sebaceous glands are responsible for keeping the skin soft and moisturized by producing an oily substance called sebum. During adolescence, male hormones called androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands resulting in an excess amount of oil. If this oil combines with keratin (dead skin cells) it can clog the hair follicles resulting in a type of acne called comedones, more commonly known as whiteheads and blackheads.
A bacteria called Proprionibacterium Acnes (P.acnes) usually lives in hair follicles and uses the sebum for nutrients to grow. Due to the excess amount of sebum produced during puberty, an excess amount of this bacteria also develops. The body tries to counter this by attracting white blood cells to the follicle. These cells then produce an enzyme that can damage the wall of the follicles leading to an inflammatory process. This inflammatory response may result in papules, pustules and nodules.
Acne isn’t just restricted to your face, upper neck and chest, it might also sprout up on your back, butt and scalp. If you look down the left hand side menu of this site you will also find information on adult acne, baby acne, cystic acne, acne rosacea, pregnancy acne, infant acne, feline acne and hormonal acne.
You'll also find information on acne treatment, such as advice on how to get rid of acne, scar treatment, laser treatment, home remedies, herbal remedies and natural acne treatments. You can also find out about the pros and cons of various acne products such as acne antibiotics (tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline), birth control pill, acne creams and acne medicine.