ACNE


Acne vulgaris (commonly called Acne) is a skin disease, caused by changes in the pilosebaceous units (skin structures consisting of a hair follicle and its associated sebaceous gland). Severe acne is inflammatory, but acne can also manifest in noninflammatory forms. Acne lesions are commonly referred to as pimples, spots, or zits. Acne is most common during adolescence, affecting more than 85% of teenagers, and frequently continues into adulthood. For most people, acne diminishes over time and tends to disappear, or at least decrease, after one reaches his or her early twenties. There is, however, no way to predict how long it will take for it to disappear entirely, and some individuals will continue to suffer from acne decades later, into their thirties and forties and even beyond. The term acne comes from a corruption of the Greek άκμή (acme in the sense of a skin eruption) in the writings of Aëtius Amidenus. The vernacular term bacne or backne is often used to indicate acne found specifically on one's back.

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Symptoms
The most common form of acne is known as "acne vulgaris", meaning "common acne". Many teenagers get this type of acne. The face and upper neck are the most commonly affected, but the chest, back and shoulders may have acne as well. The upper arms can also have acne, but lesions found there are often keratosis pilaris, not acne. The typical acne lesions are comedones and inflammatory papules, pustules, and nodules. Some of the large nodules were previously called "cysts" and the term nodulocystic has been used to describe severe cases of inflammatory acne.

Aside from scarring, its main effects are psychological, such as reduced self-esteem and, according to at least one study, depression or suicide. Acne usually appears during adolescence, when people already tend to be most socially insecure. Early and aggressive treatment is therefore advocated by some to lessen the overall impact to individuals.

Causes of acne
Acne develops as a result of blockages in follicles. Hyperkeratinization and formation of a plug of keratin and sebum (a microcomedo) is the earliest change. Enlargement of sebaceous glands and an increase in sebum production occur with increased androgen (DHEA-S) production at adrenarche. The microcomedo may enlarge to form an open comedo (blackhead) or closed comedo (whitehead). In these conditions the naturally occurring largely commensual bacteria Propionibacterium acnes can cause inflammation, leading to inflammatory lesions (papules, infected pustules, or nodules) in the dermis around the microcomedo or comedo, which results in redness and and may result in scarring or hyperpigmentation.

Primary causes
Exactly why some people get acne and some do not is not fully known. It is known to be partly hereditary. Several factors are known to be linked to acne: * Family/Genetic history. The tendency to develop acne runs in families. For example, school-age boys with acne have other members of their family with acne. A family history of acne is associated with an earlier occurrence of acne and an increased number of retentional acne lesions. * Hormonal activity, such as menstrual cycles and puberty. During puberty, an increase in male sex hormones called androgens cause the glands to get larger and make more sebum. * Stress, through increased output of hormones from the adrenal (stress) glands. * Hyperactive sebaceous glands, secondary to the three hormone sources above. * Accumulation of dead skin cells. * Bacteria in the pores. Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is the anaerobic bacterium that causes acne. In-vitro resistance of P. acnes to commonly used antibiotics has been increasing. * Skin irritation or scratching of any sort will activate inflammation. * Use of anabolic steroids. * Any medication containing halogens (iodides, chlorides, bromides), lithium, barbiturates, or androgens. * Exposure to certain chemical compounds. Chloracne is particularly linked to toxic exposure to dioxins, namely Chlorinated dioxins. Several hormones have been linked to acne: the androgens testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), as well as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-I). In addition, acne-prone skin has been shown to be insulin resistant. Development of acne vulgaris in later years is uncommon, although this is the age group for Rosacea which may have similar appearances. True acne vulgaris in adults may be a feature of an underlying condition such as pregnancy and disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome or the rare Cushing's syndrome. Menopause-associated acne occurs as production of the natural anti-acne ovarian hormone estradiol fails at menopause. The lack of estradiol also causes thinning hair, hot flashes, thin skin, wrinkles, vaginal dryness, and predisposes to osteopenia and osteoporosis as well as triggering acne (known as acne climacterica in this situation).

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