Acne Vulgaris, the 8 Stages of Acne, Skin Care, Adult Acne, and Scar Removal Options.
by: Stephen M. Seabrook
What is Acne Vulgaris? This is a medical term used to describe most cases of acne. It really isn't as bad as it sounds! Vulgaris doesn't mean that the acne is vulgar, only that it means that it is common.
Be aware that there are many factors that contribute to acne. First, research indicates a propensity for acne may well be inherited. Parents who had acne in their teenage and young adult years may have children who are likewise prone to having acne in their teen and young adult years.
Next, clogged skin pores are certainly a major contributing factor for acne out-breaks. When pores become clogged with an excess production of sebum and mix with dead skin cells or makeup that isn't sufficiently cleaned from the skin, problems start to develop. When skin pores are clogged, bacteria are produced and pus starts to form causing a pimple, a white head or a black head.
The most commonly accepted causes for acne are hormonal imbalances. Hormones in boys and girls may become unbalanced during puberty, during menstrual cycles, when starting or stopping birth control pills, during times of extreme stress, and at other times as well.
All of the above situations can cause the body to over produce a male hormone which causes the sebaceous glands to produce sebum. The sebum combines with dead skin cells to block pores and acne develops. So, basically, it still comes back to blocked pores.
Other causes for acne include a lack of vitamins, minerals and trace elements that the body needs to maintain a healthy skin. Vitamins A, E and B6 are especially important in maintaining healthy skin as are zinc, essential fatty acids (EFA), Chromium and Selenium.
Most diets of teenagers and young adults do not contain these vitamins, minerals, and trace elements in sufficient quantity to maintain healthy skin and to help prevent the onset of Acne.
Acne: The 8 Stages:
Full blown, Stage 8 acne doesn't usually develop overnight. Acne is progressive condition. Acne is one of the diseases that are so common that it is sometimes just disregarded as a serious problem...like the common cold. It has been estimated that 95 of people will have at least a mild case of acne at some point in their lives.
Acne, much like the common cold, is usually treated by the sufferer with over-the-counter medications that alleviate the symptoms of the disease in the belief that it will simply go away all by itself....eventually. And, it usually does but not always.
Most people throughout their life will have the occasional pimple, zit, white head or black head.
Although these pesky little outbreaks do seem to appear at the most inopportune times, they really aren't a serious problem that requires medical attention. A little over-the-counter acne facial wash to help prevent another outbreak will usually take care of the problem. It isn't a big deal. This kind of acne is referred to as Stage 0 and really nothing to be concerned about unless the acne progresses to subsequent stages.
Acne stages are graded from 0 through 8. Zero is the least severe and 8 is the most serious of the stages. The stages are as follows:
Stage 1: There will be white heads and black heads with some mild inflammation. The outbreaks will start to occur more frequently. Using products that contain Benzyl Peroxide are in order.
Stage 2: There will be some papules in addition to the white heads and black heads. Papules are skin lesions that are solid and raised but usually small. This is still considered to be a very mild case of acne. Treatment can be continued using over-the-counter products that contain Salicylic Acid.
Stage 3: Stage 3 is the same as stage 2 but with more frequent occurrences.
Stage 4-5: Pustules begin to appear. Now, it's time to schedule an appointment at a dermatologist.
Stage 6-7: Nodules and cysts are forming. Scarring is going to start happening at this stage. Your dermatologist will begin to take more drastic action.
Stage 8: Breakouts are almost continuous and include nodules and cysts. There are modern technologies that will help and your dermatologist will advise you.
Acne Skin Care:
As we know, our hair follicles secrete sebum. Sebum makes its way up the hair follicles to the skin pores where it lubricates and protects the skin. Sometimes there are oil glands which get overworked, get enlarge, and produce too much sebum. The sebum can get trapped in the hair follicle.
When this happens the pores get clogged and black heads or white heads form and the bacteria start to multiply at an alarmingly fast rate.
Once you understand this process, you can see the reasoning behind the advice about caring for skin that has black heads, white heads and pustules on it.
The first piece of advice about caring for acne infected skin is to never pick at the pimples. Don't try to pop them and drain them. This will not cure them no matter what anybody tells you. Popping them will only serve to make them worse...not better.
However, there are things that you can do that really will help.
The first thing you can do is to wash your face with a mild soap or a sulfur based soap. Wash your face with just your finger tips. Don't ever use a wash cloth as it holds germs and bacteria. Rinse your face with clean water several times to ensure you remove all traces of soap, and then pat it dry with a clean towel. Do not rub your face with the towel and never use the same towel twice without it being clean.
Take a good multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplement every day and drink at least 8 full glasses of water (not soda) every day. The vitamins and minerals will supply nutrients that are absent from most diets and the water will help to hydrate the skin as well as to flush toxins out of your system.
If you use over-the-counter acne medications, be certain that you follow the directions carefully and that you use a good sunscreen when you are outdoors as some acne medications make the skin more prone to sunburn.
Acne is not just a problem for teenagers and young adults. Once a person survives the teenage years, you would think that they don't have to deal with the embarrassment of acne any longer, right? Well....not exactly.
The sad truth is that about 25 of women will have acne at some time in their 20s, 30s or even 40s. Although there has never been a real cause established, it is believed that most adult acne is caused by the same thing that causes teenage acne...hormonal changes.
A doctor will sometimes prescribe hormonal treatments that will clear a case of adult acne right up. As with teenage acne, adult acne is not caused by diet. Stress has often been cited as one possible cause of adult acne but that assertion has never been verified.
Treating adult acne is a bit more difficult than treating teenage acne. Adults have the concern of drying out their skin that teenagers don't normally have to deal with. Adults don't want pimples; but, they don't want wrinkles, either. A dermatologist should be consulted if the acne is long lasting or is severe.
There are many treatments that are available to adults who suffer from acne. Most of the effective treatments are only available by prescription. Adults should not use over-the-counter acne medications that are intended for the treatment of teenage acne. These products tend to dry the skin and adults need to be concerned about wrinkling as well as acne.
A case of adult acne is not a happy occurrence to say because those ugly bumps always seem to occur at the most inopportune times and while a teenager may be embarrassed by acne, an adult is even more devastated.
Fortunately, there are treatments and a dermatologist has a lot of weapons in his arsenal to fight adult acne.
Acne Scar Removal Options:
Life hardly seems fair sometimes! First, a teenager or a young adult must suffer through acne, treat it, and have to live with it...sometimes for years. Then the acne is gone; but, the scars are there as a painful reminder of the mental and emotional agony the acne sufferer had to endure.
You're right, life doesn't seem fair; but, acne is one of those sad facts of life that some if not most of us have to deal with. The good news is there is help; unfortunately, it isn't free or cheap!
There are two basic procedures that are used to remove ugly pits and scars left over from a bad case of teenage or young adult acne. Laser resurfacing is the least expensive of the two available acne scar removal procedures. Dermabrasion is the second procedure.
Laser resurfacing can be done in the dermatologist office instead of a hospital so that provides a much greater financial savings. A laser is used to remove the top layer of skin and also to tighten the middle layer of skin.
The dermatologist will use a local anesthetic to help reduce the procedure pain. It usually takes several days for the skin to heal after a laser resurfacing procedure is completed. Very often, multiple resurfacing treatments must be done to achieve the desired results.
The second procedure used to remove acne scarring is called dermabrasion. In this procedure, a rotating wire brush is used to remove the top layer of skin. The body continually produces new skin and the new layer will be smoother than the layer that was removed. It usually takes between 10 days and 3 weeks for the skin to heal after a dermabrasion treatment. Once again, multiple treatments may be required to eliminate the scarring.
Acne may seem to be a devastating condition but with proper skin routine, vitamins, and over the counter products, most cases will not be severe. Remember, proper cleansing goes a long way towards minimizing outbreaks, so don't be afraid to cleanse your face 5 - 6 times a day of more if needed.
Fight acne by being smart. Take as many preventative steps as possible to avoid situations that create the opportunity for acne to develop. If acne does afflict you, consult a qualified medical professional before deciding on a course of action.