Acne is a common skin condition that causes spots to develop on the skin, usually on the face, chest and back. It affects almost all teenagers during puberty. However it is not unusual for adults, especially women, to develop acne in their mid to late 20s.
Acne can vary from mild (the occasional pimple) through to severe acne (nodules and cysts).
Acne occurs when hair follicles of our skin become blocked. We all produce oil under our skin (called sebum) from glands next to the hair follicles which helps to keep the skin from drying out. However with acne too much of sebum is produced. This excess oil, when combined with dead skin cells, can cause the follicle to become blocked. Pimples or cysts occur when a normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin, grows in the blocked follicle causing it to become inflamed.
There are in fact six main types of spots:
These are small black or yellowish bumps on the skin. The black colouring is not dirt, but rather due to the inner lining of the hair follicle producing pigmentation.
Whiteheads – look similar to blackheads but they can be firmer and when squeezed they will not empty.
These are tender bumps that are red in appearance.
These are similar to papules, but the tip is white in the centre due to a build-up of pus.
Large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful.
Large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils. These are the most severe type of acne spot and have the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring.
- Wash your face twice a day
Use a mild soap and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can aggravate acne.
- Don’t try to squeeze spots
Squeezing can make them worse and lead to scarring.
- Avoid touching your face and make sure to wash your hands
Avoid touching your face with your hands and make sure you regularly wash your hands. Touching your face with dirty hands can not only spread bacteria, you can irritate skin that may already be inflamed.
Myths and Truths
- Adults don't get acne.
False. Acne has no age limit. But hormones do play a key role in adult spots. The thing to remember is this: generally, adult skin is less oily than teen skin.
- Squeezing your spots is the best way to tackle acne.
False. Squeezing spots, whether they are blackheads or whiteheads, could actually make the problem worse, and may eventually lead to scarring.