What Exactly Is Acne?
Acne is a disorder of the sebaceous glands which secrete oil onto
the skin and which lie in the dermis, the layer of skin just under
the epidermis (surface layer). Acne is caused when dried sebum, flaked
skin and bacteria collect in skin pores forming a "plug"
which blocks the oil from flowing up through the pores. If this blockage
is incomplete, a blackhead appears; if the blockage is complete, a
whitehead appears. At the same time, bacteria can grow in the plugged
pores, further irritating the condition. These irritated blackheads
and whiteheads produce what is commonly known as acne. If left untreated,
or if the infection and irritation gets worse, an abscess may form.
When the pores are blocked and pimples and pus-filled blisters (pustules)
form without abscesses, the condition is called superficial acne;
when inflamed pimples erupt downward into the underlying skin and
pus-filled cysts appear or develop into abscesses, the condition is
called deep acne. In deep acne, the infection may spread, causing
red, raised, inflamed areas, cysts and abscesses which may rupture
or leave scars (More Technical Information below).
The lifecycle of a pimple can be up to eight weeks without treatment.
Can Anyone Get Acne?
It is estimated that acne affects as many as 70 million people of
all ages, at a treatment cost estimated at well over $300 million
Teenagers are often more prone to acne due to an increased production
of sex hormones called androgens, which regulate the activity and
size of the sebaceous (oil-producing) glands inside the pores or hair
Women may get acne with each menstrual period due to a change in hormones,
and it may clear up or worsen during pregnancy. Anyone using anabolic
steroids is likely to worsen their acne, and certain cosmetics may
cause or aggravate acne by clogging pores.
Some people feel that diet plays a role in acne; however, extensive
scientific studies have not found a connection between eating fried
foods or chocolate and acne.
Acnes Devastating Impact
The psychological scars and the trauma of acne are often deeper and
more disastrous than the blemishes, and doctors are just beginning
to understand the significant impact of acne and acne scarring on
a persons outlook on life. Recent studies have shown that people
with acne suffer from social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem, reduced
self-confidence, poor body image, embarrassment, feelings of depression,
anger and frustration. Because many people still believe that acne
is the result of poor hygiene or diet, feelings of guilt can become
overwhelming only adding to the loss of self-esteem.
Acne Treatments is a serious treatment for acne that has
achieved up to a 99% success rate without antibiotics, harsh chemicals,
dangerous drugs or expensive doctor visits. Blemish Control contains
zinc oxide, sulfur, Vitamin E and calming, herbal extracts like aloe
vera, and camomile in a base of penetrating oils which transport these
well-known healing elements deep into the skin. A once- or twice-daily
application on clean skin will normally produce significant results
Acne can be made worse by squeezing pimples or trying to open them
in any way, which may increase the inflammation and infection.
Many physicians recommend a course of treatment which includes oral
antibiotics; however, this treatment may last from months to years.
Women, especially teenage girls, who use oral antibiotics may develop
a vaginal yeast infection (candidal vaginitis) which may require treatment
with other drugs. This may make oral antibiotic treatment impractical.
Topical antibiotics, with or without skin irritants such as retinoic
acid (tretinoin),, are often combined with antibiotic treatment. Patients
often experience drying of the skin and those being treated with tretinoin,
should avoid exposure to sunlight, which can cause severe irritation.
Other topical drugs may include benzoyl peroxide or other chemical
compounds. Another popular treatment is Accutane, which has been linked
to depression in teens.
For deep acne, isotretinoin taken by mouth is often recommended. White
this drug has shown significant results, it can harm a developing
fetus, so women taking it must use strict contraceptive measures.
In addition, regular blood tests are necessary to check the condition
of the blood cells and liver and the fat levels in the blood. In addition,
most people taking isotretinoin develop dry eyes, chapped lips and
dryiness of the thin skin lining the penis or vagina. About 15 percent
of people taking the drug develop pain or stiffness in the large joints.
Inflamed cysts can be injected with corticosteroids, or a doctor may
cut a cyst or abscess to drain it. Topical corticosteroid treatment
may actually worsen acne.
Oral contraceptives may help for women who develop severe acne during
their menstrual periods; however, treatment usually takes four to
six months to produce results.
Over-the-counter preparations are also available with varying results.
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More Technical Information On Acne
Acne is a disease of the pilosebaceous units. The pilosebaceous unit
consists of an oil gland (the sebaceous gland) connected to a hair
follicle. Although found all over the human body, pilosebaceous units
are larger and more numerous on the face, scalp, upper back and chest-
the same areas of the body where acne is more prevalent. In normal
skin, the oily substance produced by the sebaceous gland empties onto
the skin surface through the opening of the follicle. While we do
not know the basic cause of acne, we do know that changes in the lining
of the hair follicle occur that prevent the sebum from passing through
the follicle to the skins surface.
In acne, the cells that line the follicle are shed too quickly and
clump together. These clumped cells block the follicles opening
so that the sebum (oil) cannot reach the surface of the skin. Bacteria
that normally and harmlessly live on the skin, called Propionni bacterium
acnes, begin to grow in the hair follicle. These bacteria produce
chemicals that cause inflammation. Inflammation is a response to disease
or injury that is characterized by swelling, redness, heat and pain.
There are a number of different types of lesions associated with acne.
They are called cornedones, papules, pustules, and nodules or cysts.
Comedones are simply enlarged, non-inflamed hair follicles that are
plugged with oil and bacteria. A closed cornedo, also known as a whitehead,
appears on the skin surface as small whitish bumps. An open comedo
is also known as a blackhead because it looks black on the skins
surface. The black coloration of an open comedo is not due to dirt,
but discoloration of the sebum.
Inflamed lesions vary in severity. Papules are more serious lesions
than whiteheads or blackheads. Papules are inflamed comedones that
appear as pink bumps on the skin and can be painful to the touch.
More serious are pustules and nodules. Pustules are inflamed puss-filled
lesions that resemble whiteheads, but with a red ring around the base.
Nodules or acne cysts are the most serious of acne lesions. A nodule
is a large, deep-seated, puss-filled, often painful lump. Acne with
nodules often results in permanent scarring.
Papulopustular acne also known as acne vulgaris is characterized by
the presence of comedones and mildly inflammatory lesions. The severity
of a case of papulopustular acne is determined by the ration of comedones
to papules and pustules. The higher the numbers of inflammatory lesions
that are present on the skin, the more severe the acne. Nodulocystic
acne is more severe than papulopustular. As mentioned these lesions
are large, inflamed and extremely painful. The potential for permanent
scarring is greatest with nodulocystic acne.
We always recommend a visit to your dermatologist for a professional
diagnosis of your skin condition. If you feel we can be of help, please
dont hesitate to contact us.