Acne affects 40 to 50 million Americans (at some point in their lives) and can range from mild (blackheads and whiteheads) to moderate (pimples) to severe (cysts).While people with any skin type can experience breakouts, acne is commonly caused by oily skin.
What causes acne?
Hormonal changes can send oil glands into overdrive. Genes play a role, but for the three out of four teenagers who develop acne, this usually has to do with puberty. Adult acne, which generally affects women in their 30s, 40s and 50s, is mostly caused by hormonal fluctuations related to menstrual cycle, pregnancy, birth control pills (especially when you stop taking them) or menopause. In some cases, it can be a sign of polycystic ovary disease.Stress, smoking and diet can cause acne regardless of age or gender. Beauty products that contain oils like synthetic lanolin or petrolatum, greasy hair products like pomade and certain medications including Lithium and cortisteroids are common triggers as well. Also, the combination of bacteria, oil and friction from wearing headbands, helmets with chin straps or cradling your phone can cause contact acne.
Different kinds of acne:MildBlackheads and whiteheads: A blackhead is a partially blocked pore, where trapped dead skin cells, sebum and bacteria have seeped to the surface. (The dark color is not caused by dirt, but the melanin in your skin reacting with the oxygen in the air). A whitehead is caused by the same factors but is a completely blocked pore with a closed surface.
ModeratePapules and pustules: Papules are inflamed red bumps with no visible fluid (i.e. they can’t be popped). Pustules—tender, pus-filled bumps—are plain old pimples.
SevereNodules and cysts: Both are large, hard bumps that have become infected below the surface of the skin. The difference is that cysts are filled with pus and nodules are not. Both types can be quite painful and last for months. Since nodules and cysts can cause scarring even if you don’t pick at them, a dermatologist should always treat this type of acne.
Acne Rosacea: This type of acne generally affects people over the age of 30 and is more common for women. Symptoms include a red rash on cheeks, forehead, nose and chin, visible blood vessels, as well as bumps and pimples. Like cystic acne, a professional should treat.
Should you see a dermatologist?