What Acne? 267256_10151206809916351_1402073415_n.jpg

The word acne comes from the word acme meaning "the highest point", which comes from the Greek akme meaning "point" or "spot" - it was originally mispelt, with an 'n' rather than an 'm' in 1835.

Acne is a disease that involves the oil glands of the skin. It is not dangerous, but can leave skin scars. Your skin has pores (tiny holes) which connect to oil glands located under the skin. The glands are connected to the pores via follicles - small canals. Sebum, an oily liquid, is produced by these glands. The sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of your skin. A small hair grows through the follicle out of the skin. Pimples grow when these follicles get blocked.

In humans, when pimples appear they tend to do so on the patient's face, back, chest, shoulders and neck. Acne develops when follicles get blocked and infected.

Simply put - skin cells, sebum and hair can clump together into a plug, this plug gets infected with bacteria, resulting in a swelling. A pimple starts to develop when the plug begins to break down.

There are various types of pimples

Whiteheads - remain under the skin and are very small.

Blackheads - clearly visible, they are black and appear on the surface of the skin. Remember that a blackhead is not caused by dirt. Scrubbing your face vigorously when you see blackheads will not help.

Papules - visible on the surface of the skin. They are small bumps, usually pink.

Pustules - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are red at their base and have pus at the top.

Nobules - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are large, solid pimples. They are painful and are embedded deep in the skin.

Cysts - clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are painful, and are filled with pus. Cysts can easily cause scars.


How common is acne?

Dermatologists (skin specialists) say that approximately three-quarters of 11 to 30 year-olds will get acne at some time. Acne can affect people of all races and all ages. It most commonly affects adolescents and young adults. There are people in their fifties who still get acne. According to Brown University, USA, approximately 17 million Americans are estimated to have acne at any one time.

Although acne affects both men and women, young men suffer from acne for longer - probably because testosterone, which is present in higher quantities in young men, can make acne worse.