27 September 2019
Understanding acne better
The primary cause of consultations with dermatologists, acne affects 80% of adolescents and over 40% of adults, most often women.
Even if acne is not considered as a serious disease, blemishes can sometimes leave long-term scarring. Blemishes impact considerably the quality of life of people who suffer from them over the long term. This complex skin disease is linked to several causes and shows itself in different ways.
HOW DOES ACNE START?
- Sebum and the Pilosebaceous Follicle:
Every hair in our skin is attached to a sebaceous gland, in charge of producing sebum. With acne, an excess of sebum is produced (hyperseborrhea) which is also different in quality to healthy sebum (dysseborrhea), making it less fluid. Consequently, the thick sebum blocks the hair shaft through which it normally evacuates. The plug forms a comedo, which can be open (blackhead) or closed (whitehead, or microcyst). Inside, the sebum creates an ideal environment for bacteria to proliferate, in particular Cutibacterium acnes, the typical bacteria in acne. Over time, inflammation appears, transforming the comedo into a red and painful bump.
- The Genetic Factor:
Being predisposed to acne is often hereditary. There are regions around the world where acne doesn’t exist.
- Environment and Lifestyle:
Diet (too much sugar), pollution (an imbalance in the skin microbiota), stress (a sebum stimulator) all play a role in acne.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
Acne generally starts in adolescence, when sexual hormones awaken and activate sebum production. However today, acne is no longer relegated to only youth. Many adult women in particular deal with chronic blemish problems, often linked to hormonal imbalances.
THE TWO MAIN TYPES OF ACNE
Acne can affect the face, upper chest area, the shoulders and the back.
This is made up essentially of blackheads, so called because they are open comedones whose sebum is oxidised by the air, giving them their black appearance. Microcysts are closed comedones, or the small spots with white heads that stick up from under the skin.
Comedones change into inflammatory acne when bacteria have multiplied so that an inflammatory reaction is initiated. Dermatologists refer to these as papules or pustules.
Over time, the spots become deep and painful cysts, covered in a hard shell. It’s better to avoid touching them since the risk of scarring is significant.