What is acne? What are the causes?
Acne is a chronic disease of the skin, more precisely of a skin appendage called the pilosebaceous follicle (hair + sebaceous gland). The sebaceous gland is responsible for producing sebum, a mixture of lipids essential for protecting the skin against external aggressions and for maintaining suppleness. Due to hormonal changes, especially during adolescence, this sebum is produced in excess quantity or becomes too thick. Combined with increased proliferation of follicle cells, this causes the orifice of the pilosebacous follicles (skin pores) to become blocked, leading to the appearance of acne.
A bacteria normally found on the surface of human skin also plays a major role in the onset of acne. This bacteria is called Cutibacterium acnes or C. acnes.
Due to changes in hormones and in the sebum, the population of this bacteria is modified and stimulates the appearance of acne lesions.
Acne: forms and symptoms
- "Retentional" acne is characterized by shiny skin, dilated pores, blackheads (comedones) and whiteheads (micro-cysts).
- "Inflammatory" acne presents with red spots: papules, pustules or even nodules, depending on the depth of the spots in the skin.
- "Cystic" acne is characterized by the development of cysts and linked to untreated or poorly treated inflammatory spots.
- Acne conglobata and acne fulminans are the most severe forms of acne, but fortunately they are also the rarest forms
Aggravating factors of acne
- During the summer, sun exposure causes the skin to thicken and acne appears to improve. But this is not really the case! Beware of the post-summer rebound effect! The sun is not a friend to acne-prone skin. It is therefore essential to protect the skin from the very first sun rays.
- When used on oily or acne-prone skin, excessively oily cosmetic products or make-up with too much coverage tend to promote the appearance of spots and contribute to pore blockage. Irritant products or scrubs used too frequently (more than once a week) tend to stimulate sebum production and inflammation and thus aggravate acne.
- The role of diet in the onset or aggravation of acne is a controversial topic. Several foods, such as chocolate or deli meats have long been blamed for causing acne. According to the latest scientific data, milk and sugary foods are the most likely culprits in influencing the onset or aggravation of acne. Besides counteracting overweight and snacking between meals, no specific diet can be recommended.
- Stress and smoking also seem to have a negative impact on sebum production and therefore on acne.
First spots: what to do?
- Don't touch your spots
- Use mild cleansers specially formulated for acne-prone skin
- Use suitable make-up products marked "non-comedogenic".
- Use alcohol-free shaving and after-shave products
- Do not go out in the sun without the right sun protection
In order to take control of acne quickly and avoid scars, you must be patient and follow the prescription and the recommendations of health professionals.