Acne – Development
Acne is a skin condition seen as blackheads,
whiteheads, pustules and inflamed and infected nodules found on the
face, neck, chest and back.
Acne is caused by a blockage to the opening of the
sebaceous (oil-producing) glands in the skin. These glands normally
produce an oily substance called sebum which is required to keep
the skin supple and healthy. Puberty causes these glands to produce
excess oil. At the same time, the dead skin cells lining the skin
pores are not shed properly and clog up the follicles. These two
effects result in a build-up of oil-producing whiteheads and
blackheads (where a darkened plug of oil is visible). This build-up
of oil creates an ideal environment for bateria to multiply. This
triggers inflammation and the formation of red or pus-filled
PIMPLES – When a hair follicle becomes
clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria, this debris is
irritating to the skin and can cause inflammation. Pus is then
created by white blood cells which rush to the site of inflammation
to help fight off any infection. When the follicle becomes
overloaded it usually bursts on the skin’s surface and then heals
quickly leaving no permanent scar. Follicles can break underneath
the skin and these will take longer to heal.
BLIND PIMPLES – These are the type of lesions
which can have flat or rounded surfaces. Blind pimples can cause
pain but are usually not deep seated and scarring does not usually
result. The pimple should not be squeezed even if pus does develop
as it may be very painful and increases the risk of scarring.
BLACKHEADS – These appear on the skin as a
result of dead skin cells and hardened sebum (natural oil and fluid
released by glands) blocking the opening of a hair follicle. The
blockage prevents the flow of sebum to the skin surface causing it
to become slightly less oily. The blackheads, however, are often
unsightly, and, if not treated, can become infected and progress
CLOSED BLACKHEADS – Deeper down, in the
underlying layers of the skin, closed blackheads occur. Closed
blackheads are completely enclosed by the skin with no opening to
the exterior or skin surface. Closed blackheads are barely visible
and are difficult to remove. These blackheads usually develop into
Acne. The skin has to be stretched between the fingers to see small
white spots, the size of a pin head, which are called closed
MILIA – This is a disorder of the oil
producing glands which is caused by a build-up of dead skin cells
and oily matter trapped beneath the skin. A milia looks like a
small pearly grain of sand under the skin. The outer layer of skin
grows over the hair follicle and does not allow the matter to
CYSTS – When a hair follicle bursts deep
under the skin, the irritating matter and dead cells seep into the
surrounding areas and form cysts. Pimples are not to be confused
with acne cysts, which are large (five millimeters or more across),
painful or tender lumps that are inflamed, and filled with pus. The
cyst will usually work its way to the surface which may take some
time and can cause damage to skin tissue. This may result in
scarring which is known as ‘pitting’. Often a thickened membrane
will form around the debris and medical treatment may be
As with all conditions your Doctor should be
consulted. Your Doctor will diagnose and treat this condition. Ask
your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment. Sometimes your
Doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. If the case is severe there are
other treatments available from your Doctor. See the Acne
management topic for more information.
See the Acne Diet topic for more information.
Vitamins / Minerals / Herbs
Vitamins may be of assistance if dietary intake is
• Zinc supplementation has been shown to improve Acne in some
• Zinc combined with Vitamin B3 (also known as
nicotinamide, niacin or nicotinic acid) and Folic acid helps to
• Vitamin A, as a supplement or in skin
preparations, plays an important role in the treatment of Acne.
Vitamin A is not suitable for pregnant women.
• Calendula is used widely as a soothing
ingredient in skin preparations. It has anti-inflammatory,
antiseptic and wound-healing properties.
• Sarsaparilla and Gotu kola, taken orally,
have anti-inflammatory properties that may help to improve
• Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties and
has been shown to be an effective treatment in skin preparations
Ask your Pharmacist or beauty consultant for
advice about regular skin treatments to remove and reduce the
occurrence of blackheads and pimples. Proper cleansing techniques
can reduce the risk of scarring.
Follow the diet hints.
Your Pharmacist or beauty consultant can instruct
you on how to use the cleansing and exfoliation
treatments to keep the skin clean.
It is best to avoid using thick, oil-based creams
and cosmetics if your skin is prone to Acne to help avoid clogging
of the follicles which can cause Acne. Water-based products may be
If your skin is sensitive, avoid using highly
perfumed soaps and cosmetics. Some products use the description
‘non-comedogenic’ or ‘non-acnegenic’. This means the products have
been tested and shown not to worsen Acne. Ask your Pharmacist or
beauty consultant to recommend the most suitable products for your
Consider some nutritional supplements if the diet
is inadequate. Your Pharmacist can advise you about supplements
which may help to improve the skin.