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Acne Scarring

Though acne is common, acne scarring often results when acne is left untreated. Misconceptions about the causes of acne usually result in ineffective or damaging “treatments”.

Though many people believe acne is caused by heredity, certain foods, dirt, or stress, acne (acne vulgaris) is simply the result of naturally occurring oils (sebum) produced by the sebaceous glands at the base of hair follicles. Though acne can affect people of any age, these glands become more active when we reach puberty. Clogged pores, most often on the face, chest and back, allow a build-up of sebum which then stimulates normally occurring harmless bacteria to multiply and inflame nearby skin cells.

The oil, when just under the surface, appears white; deeper in the skin it turns darker producing a “blackhead”. Still deeper, it forms a nodule or cyst. Once inflammation sets in, these blackheads and whiteheads turn into small red papules or yellowish-white pustules which, if squeezed, allow infection to spread. The deeper cysts, when inflamed, become obvious as large red bumps.

Atrophic & Hypertrophic Scarring

When these pimples and blackheads are broken, the surface skin is torn. Repeated tears can result in loss of tissue (atrophic scarring).

To repair the torn skin, your body produces a protein called collagen, usually in excess amounts. This new skin growth quickly repairs the wound but usually results in an acne scar (hypertrophic scarring).

Because hair growth accelerates at puberty, clogged pores and the resulting acne are most often associated with our teenage years. However, a teenager’s lifestyle is not to blame unless she is using ointments and make-up that are actually encouraging the clogging of her pores.

Adult Acne-Related Problems

A facial rash called rosacea can develop in adults, mostly women, over the age of thirty, even those who never experience acne as a teenager. Red patches form, and in some cases inflammation causes pimple-like bumps. However, these bumps are not caused by blocked pores as in true acne and therefore, unlike blackheads and whiteheads, they will not pop when squeezed.


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