Introduction to Acne
Acne is a common condition that affects most individuals at some point during their lifetime. It refers to a wide variety of blemishes, including blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, large cysts and painful nodules. Although adolescence and the teenage years are when acne is the worst for most people, many adults experience regular skin blemishes as well. Acne is a particularly distressing skin condition because, most of the time, it affects the face. For most people, acne is an annoyance but remains controlled. However, for others, acne becomes more severe over time, leading to possible infection and scarring. Luckily, the Total Skin Center in the Kansas City area offers several treatment options to alleviate the symptoms of acne.
Causes of Acne
Several factors contribute to the development of acne. Hormones–specifically androgens–promote the creation of more acne-causing oil, which is why acne is worse during puberty. Additionally, severe acne can be hereditary, so individuals with a family history of serious acne should seek dermatological treatment as soon as possible. Lastly, stress and a poor diet exacerbate acne problems.
Diet and Acne
Ongoing research has proved that there is an association between diet and acne. A diet high in carbohydrates–especially simple sugars–can cause and worsen acne. Carbohydrate restriction makes the most sense for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, because it helps to moderate excessive release of androgen hormones.
Other studies have found links between dairy products and acne, but the link is weaker. However, for patients that are already sensitive to dairy, milk products may aggravate their acne. If a patient does choose to eliminate dairy from their diet, we recommend supplementing with calcium and vitamin D.
How Does Acne Develop?
There are thousands of pores on your face, chest and back. All pores have oil glands, called sebaceous glands, attached at their base, which provide oils to moisturize the surface of the skin. However, sometimes oil glands become clogged by sweat, makeup, or dead skin cells. Blocked, visible pores are called blackheads. Sometimes these blockages occur underneath the surface of the skin and whiteheads develop.
If the pore doesn’t become unblocked, oil builds up and causes a rupture under the skin. This is when a pimple normally develops as a red, tender lesion. As white blood cells surround the lesion, the pimple becomes more noticeable. Given enough time, these lesions will usually heal by themselves, but the blockage continually damages the skin and can result in acne scarring. Additionally, blockages will occasionally go deeper into the tissue, creating large, painful, visible cysts that appear as flesh-colored or red lumps.