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Everything you ever wanted to know about acne!

How does acne start? Why do the pores get clogged? How can you treat acne? Find out right here...

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As I sit here with a green mud mask on my face, I wonder just how these zits I am trying to kill got here.

Is it punishment for past eating habits? Did I touch my face or wear makeup that made me need this acne treatment? None of the above, but just what is acne'

Like most stories, this one starts at the base. Or more specifically, the root of your acne treatment. The pores on your face are actually follicles for minute hairs. As with any hair follicle, it has two tiny glands that produce fatty oil called sebum.

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This oil serves to protect your face and maintain your minute hairs. At the base of the hair is another that produces keratin- that's the fibrous insoluble protein that makes up your hair (and fingernails too).

Trouble starts early and your acne treatment can help when a clog forms. Skin cells line the entire shaft of the follicle, and certain conditions make them shed faster, or get stuck in the follicle. This forms a plug. The sebum is still manufactured, and when it begins to build up, the propionibacterium (aka p. acnes) that normally are present on your skin begins to swarm. This swell that is created under your skin is called a microcomedome. Eventually this will become a comedone- which is either a whitehead or a blackhead.

Regular or moderate acne consists of four types of comedones which need a good acne treatment. Whiteheads are a comedone that has not come to the surface of the skin. It is sealed over by the skin forming a white bump- there won't be any red or tenderness around this type of acne. A blackhead is a comedone that has come to the surface of your pore, actually plugging the opening. The black color actually originates from the pigment in your skin. Melanin turns black when it comes in contact with air. Surprisingly, blackheads have a longer lifespan than whiteheads (when left alone, tampering will cause them to last longer!). You need to know this when planning your acne treatment. 

 Papules are red bumps that have no head. These blemishes are a red inflamed area with no head at all to them. It is most important that you do not try to pop these, it will force infection deeper into your skin, and because there is no head, there is no infection to easily remove.

Pustules (ew!) are the classic zit you often target with your acne treatment. It will be similar in appearance to a whitehead, only have the same red, infected, swelling area around it that a papule will have; and it will hurt.

The next two kinds of acne should have you calling your dermatologist for acne treatment immediately. When a blemish on your face gets bigger than a pencil eraser (that's 5mm) it is time for the big guns. Nodules are the first type and won’t respond to your acne treatment. This feels like a hard bump that last for months and is easily seen and felt under the skins surface. There is nothing over the counter that can help you. Cysts are similar to nodules in size, and they are red and infected. They will hurt greatly. Thankfully your dermatologist does have an acne treatment for these types of acne and bringing them under control.

The knowledge of how and why your acne treatment works will better arm you to fight the blemishes. A twice daily skincare routine that includes medication may be all you need to keep your skin bright, clear and beautiful. Don't be afraid to call your dermatologist for help with your acne treatment!

 

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