What are the causes and treatments of pimples or acne?

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Pimples or acne are a combined result of several bodily changes that occur around puberty. During puberty, secretion of the hormone called androgen increases in both boys and girls. Androgen can also increase because of hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills. It normally happens around teenage and makes the sebaceous (oil) glands become more active. Sebaceous glands are on the hair follicles under the skin. In humans sebaceous glands exist throughout the body except the palms and soles. There is abundance of sebaceous glands on the face. These glands produce sebum, an oily substance which carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. In normal circumstances sebum is produced in small amount and is discharged through a narrow pore on the skin. But if the quantity of sebum produced is high, it is not discharged as easily. It accumulates under the skin and the part near the pore turns black because of oxidation with the air. This part is generally referred to as blackhead. Blackheads spoil the looks, and it doesn't stop there. After a while bacteria develop in the sebum and that causes inflammation of the skin, worsening the pimple. After the sebum is removed, there remains a permanent dent on that part of the skin.

Formation of Acne

To some extent, genes are found to be responsible for pimples or acne. If one's parents had pimples, once stands greater chances of having pimples. However, upon noticing the first signs of pimple certain precautions can be taken to prevent its growth.

  • It is advisable to wash the face with warm water at regular intervals.
  • Using lotions and creams is not at all advisable as cosmetics that have oily content may clog pores.
  • Excessive chocolate consumption is suggested to aggravate pimples by some researchers. Although this research hasn't found all round support, but chocolate is anyway better avoided.
  • Milk and milk products are also found responsible for pimples.

If pimples or acne increase too much then a lotion containing a form of vitamin A called Retinol or an antibiotic like Tetracycline are advisable. Ultraviolet treatment may also be necessary after consulting a skin specialist.

Additional Reading:
Androgen (Wikipedia)
Sebaceous gland (Wikipedia)
Retinol (Wikipedia)
Tetracycline (Wikipedia)


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