Acne Understood

Pixmac000012035919To begin with, let’s explore the actual biology of skin. Some people refer to skin as a protective wrap. However, believe it or not, skin is actually a body organ system that does the following:

  • regulates the bodies’ temperature,
  • pain sensor,
  • provides a shield against things entering the body,
  • provides a shield from the harmful effects of the sun

There are a multitude of skin disorders; they run the gamut from superficial skin disorders to dermatitis, inflammation, blistering diseases, bedsores, sweating disorders, sebaceous gland disorders, bacterial skin infections, fungal skin infections, parasitic, viral, sunlight damage, pigment disorders, and cancerous/non-cancerous disorders.

To understand how acne develops, we need to go deeper into the actual biology of the skin.

There are three layers that a course in physiology would define as “skin”. First, the very top layer is called the epidermis. The epidermis is the thinnest of the three components of skin. At the bottom of the layer are the cells that produce the pigments for skin color.

Next layer down is the dermis, which is the thickest layer of the system – it comprises approximately 2/3 of the total. As relates to our story on acne, it is important because the functional glands of the skin system actually reside in the dermis.

The major glands are: sweat (which produces sweat), sebaceous (which product oil), and hair follicles (which produce hair). Also, the dermis provides the framework to support the blood vessels that actually carry nutrition to the skin. The lowest level of the skin system is a layer of fat that helps to regulate and act as insulation to the body from the elements.

As the individual person has various thicknesses of skin in general in different body locations (head, feet, and palms), so different people have vast differences as well. What’s key to this really is with the variation in thickness goes equal differences in various glands, hair follicles, and effects from the fat layer that forms the base in the skin system.

To apply the textbook definition of acne, you would read: an eruption of pimples and red blotches, scattered mainly over the face, shoulders, and upper chest. The question then is how is acne differentiated from all the above mentioned and prevalent skin disorders and, by understanding the physiology of the skin organ system, how can we understand how to impact acne in our lives.

Acne is a significant problem in our day because as John Russell states “acne is a common problem in adolescents and young adults”. It has associated problems with self-esteem and social status. Studies show up to 80% of adolescents and young adults are afflicted.

According to research done by the American Academy of Dermatology (ADD), there are more than 20 million teenagers suffering from acne in the US alone. Acne is of prime importance as a disorder because it has a corresponding and profound impact on the mental state of those so afflicted. Visit The American Academy of Dermatology.

In fact, Dr. M.A. Gupta states acne can have such a profound affect upon self-image and confidence of the sufferer, so much it could lead to behavioral problems, academic decline, social isolation, substance abuse, depression, even suicide.

Acne Myths

1. Myth: Acne is related to diet

Reality: After years of studies, no correlation between diet and how acne develops has been found. There is no evidence that chocolate, sugar, oil, milk, seafood, or any other food causes acne. Some people absolutely insist that a certain food causes acne for them. The bottom line is that changing your diet will most likely not affect your acne, and avoiding foods in order to clear up acne is probably a waste of your time.

2. Myth: Washing your face more often will help clear up acne

Reality: Acne is not caused by dirt. Frequent washing can actually irritate your skin. Excess irritation can worsen acne. A washcloth can aggravate this situation further. Use bare hands to wash and wash twice a day unless you play some sort of sport that requires the use of a face mask during the day. In that case, a third washing and application of medication may be appropriate. Sweat from exercise itself, however, does not aggravate acne and should not be met with excess washing.

3. Myth: Stress causes acne

Reality: Stress is not a very important factor in acne despite what you may have heard. Drugs that treat severe stress may have acne as a side effect, but stress itself is no big deal. Your time is better spent determining the right course of acne treatment rather than feeling guilt about stress.

4. Myth: The sun is good for acne

Reality: The sun may work in the short-term to hasten the clearing of existing acne while reddening your skin, thus, blending you skin tone with red acne marks. However, a sun tan is actually skin damage. Sun exposure causes irritation that can make acne worse. The sun is a short-term band-aid that will bite back with more acne in the weeks following exposure.

To redefine the classic definition of acne, we would say acne is a common skin condition wherein the skin pores become clogged, leading to pimples and inflamed, infected abscesses

We know that acne tends to develop primarily in teenagers because of the interaction between hormones, skin oils, and bacteria that live on and in the skin and in the hair (actually starts in the hair follicle channels).

Here’s the key, what actually happens is dried sebum, flaked skin, and bacteria collect in skin pores forming a blockage that blocks sebum from freely flowing from the hair follicles up through the pores (remember sebum is oil produced by the sebaceous gland in the dermis, which attaches to a hair follicle).

Depending on the amount of blockage, different forms of acne present themselves. If it’s incomplete (generally), a small blackhead appears; if the link between the sebaceous gland and the hair follicle is complete, a whitehead develops.

In either case, bacteria then grows in the blocked hair follicle and, ultimately, draws from the fats in the sebum, which just further irritates the skin. These irritations then cause the skin eruptions that are referred to as pimples. In a severe case, when the irritation and infection worsen, an abscess (which could ultimately lead to scarring) occurs.

Thus, there are two forms of acne. Superficial acne is the first level pimple, being created. If the cysts develop into larger abscesses, it projects down into the underlying skin. This condition is called deep acne.

The causal factor(s) that cause the follicles to block are not exactly known, however, it’s generally held certain cosmetics may aggravate acne by clogging the pores. This is critically important for teenage girls and young adult women who may have a predisposition towards acne anyway.

Slow Or Stop Acne Formation

One factor that may slow or stop how acne develops in teenage and young adult women is the use of all-natural progesterone creams. carries a high quality line of all-natural cosmetics and progesterone creams that are formulated from 100% all-natural ingredients, using no animal products, by-products, or petrochemical based products.

Additionally, teenage girls may also find acne appears with each menstrual cycle. It has also been found to substantially worsen during pregnancy. One defense for these conditions is the use of all-natural progesterone creams. These products have recently been highlighted as a result of several medical studies showing that replacement estrogens, which are typically used during menopause, also have a significant side benefit of clearing up monthly acne episodes.

The typical medical response to acne, after the fact, is to treat conditions with antibiotics, acids, and benzoyl peroxide. In cases of deep acne, typically the infections require weeks or months of strong antibiotics such as tetracycline and topical creams such as benzoyl peroxide. These remedies typically improve the situation but do not eliminate it entirely. All-natural progesterone cream does, however, seem to have significant success in stopping, curing, and alleviating acne in teenage and young women around the menstrual cycle. If the usual antibiotics and creams are not successful, a strong drug called Isotretinoin (taken as a pill) is sometimes prescribed. These drugs, however, all have side effects and other implications such as yeast infections are not uncommon.

All-natural products and Chinese herbal techniques are in vogue today because they have a large following of satisfied users. A natural product called salicylic acid is used in at least one major product line’s acne fighting products as a wash to keep the follicles clean and bacteria free, thus, reducing the opportunity for plugged follicles causing acne. Dietary supplements are also commonly given and some are extremely successful. Certain plants or nutrients that have minerals with amino acids, derived from botanicals, are used.


In a study January 15, 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians, it is stated “cosmetics (oil based, petrochemical based, animal oil based) have long been blamed for how acne develops. While it may not be the total reason, patients should be instructed to use oil free (all-natural) and preferably botanically-based products. Head oils and suntan lotions can also cause or exacerbate existing acne.

Teenage females with acne breakout during menstrual cycles should seek all-natural progesterone creams, which may provide other cyclical benefits as well.

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