Acne vs Pimples

Why do I have them? How do I treat them?(TEENS)

None of these words spark any particular joy in teens' hearts anytime it’s brought up for discussion.

I grew up having an insensitive skin but Grace, my elder sister, who had tons of pimples on her face would always tell me, “this thing comes with puberty, you ain’t gonna be escaping it". I mostly disagree and bring out some points to prove to her how different my skin is. However, the whole story changed few days to my 18th birthday. I woke up to see some tiny lesions on my forehead with a very awful appearance. I assumed they were the tiny rashes that do show up so I applied ABF-3 cream, hoping it would go away in the latest 2 days. Regardless, I was wrong, they were getting bigger, raised spots, rounded and swollen, some were like bumps containing fluid or pus. Then it got dawned on me I was having acne.

Let’s not go too far from the headline.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACNE AND PIMPLES

Some people get a pimple or two once in a while, while others get frequent or multiple breakouts with a lot of pus-filled pimples. If the second sounds more like you, you may have acne. Acne is a disease and pimples are one of its symptoms.

Pimples

Oil-producing glands called sebaceous glands produce too much oil, dead skin cells and debris can mix with the oil to cause buildups. This environment becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Then you see your first pesky pimple smack-dab in the middle of your forehead. While this may be your first indication that you’re maturing physically into an adult, it doesn’t make it any less painful or distressing.

Acne

It’s a condition affecting the skin’s hair follicles and oil glands. Under your skin, your pores are connected to a canal called follicles with tiny hairs that grow out of the skin’s surface. When sebum and dead skin cells clump together, they form a plug in the hair follicle. Bacteria in the plug causes inflammation leading to red pimple in acne. Multiple breakouts emerge on the skin.

ACNE IN TEENS (EPIDEMIOLOGY)

Everybody knows acne. It’s specific to about 85% of people younger than 24, 15% of people younger than 35, 3% of people older than 35, and between adolescence, there are equal amounts of men and women. However, in patients older than 35, women are the amount of these patients. It’s a disease commonly treated by dermatologists. In the most recent years for which data existed, there was an estimated 14.5 million visits to dermatologists made by teens for acne treatment. Adolescence acne correlates best with puberty stage, hormonal imbalance, although lesions may become evident before secondary sexual characteristics appear. Early in puberty, blackheads and whiteheads predominate and the midface(mid-forehead, nose, chin) typically is involved. Later, inflammatory lesions become more prevalent, and the lateral cheek, lower back, and chest are affected.

CAUSES OF ACNE

Sebum Production: increasing sebum production which is aforementioned, the hyperproliferation of the keratinocytes, the presence of propionibacteria cause the inflammatory reaction. The face and the upper part of the back are often more than arms and legs.

  • Too much oil produced in your follicles.
  • Dead skin cells accumulate in your pores.
  • Bacteria build up in your pores.

Androgen Level: In some situations, we have different sensitivity of our sebaceous glands to androgen. The patient could have a normal level of androgen in the blood, but the high sensitivity of the sebaceous gland to androgen. In this case, we also will have some kinds of acne in persons, not only in adolescence but also later after 25 or sometimes 35. Even a spontaneous regression.

Diet: There are a lot of discussions about the role of diet in the development of acne. Chocolates, fats, lipids in food. But now, we understand that milk consumption is the most important factor as it accelerates the work of some hormones. So milk consumption, fat consumption could give acne in patients.

Stress: some people, majorly people like me can have a relapse of acne after stress. Some get disturbed by their pimples that they pick at them and make them last longer.

Heredity: if one of your parents have severe acne, it’s most likely that you would also have acne and yours may be very difficult to control as well.

Drugs: Some drugs may worsen acne such as those containing iodide, bromide, lithium, oral or injected steroids(prednisone). Nevertheless, most cases of acne are not drug-related.

Cosmetics: some skincare products and lotions especially Nigeria lotions are pore-clogging (comedogenic). Out of many available brands of skincare products, it’s important to read the list of ingredients and choose those which have water listed first or second if one is concerned about acne. Water-based products are the best for those with acne.

TREATMENT OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF ACNE

Each type of acne requires different treatments. Let’s see their descriptions and how to treat them.

Whiteheads

These appear when pores become clogged with excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. If the pores close up, you’ll see a tiny bump that looks white or flesh-colored. This is a whitehead.

Blackheads

if the pores fill with debris but stay open. You’ll see a blackhead. The black dots aren’t dirt, so resist scrubbing or picking. It will only worsen your acne.

Treatment of Whiteheads and Blackheads

Most dermatologists recommend using retinoid, adapalene, without a prescription to unclog pores. Benzoyl peroxide wash can be very helpful for getting rid of the excess propionibacteria acne on your skin. After six to eight weeks of treatment and there are still blemishes, you may proceed to meet dermatologists where a procedure called Comedo Extraction may be done.

Papules

When excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells push deeper into the skin to cause inflammation, then you see the eruption of small, red bumps. They feel hard. If you have a lot of papules, the area may feel like sandpaper. A large number of papules may indicate moderate to severe acne.

Pustules

They’re pus-filled papules containing yellowish fluid. You’ll often see a yellow or white-colored center as shown in the picture.

Treatment of Papules and Pustules

Try washing your face twice daily with an acne wash containing Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic acid. I also went through this stage. From the Whitehead to Papules to Pustules. If you have a lot of them, proceed to meet a dermatologist.
Resist the temptation to pick or pop. It can worsen your acne. They can be very hard to resist but just don’t be like me. I’m still looking for a way to deal with my hands for always going to my face which is why I still have them on.

Nodules and Cyst

Nodules

They’re large inflamed bumps that feel hard to the touch. They develop deep within the skin and are often painful.

Cyst

They’re large pus-filled lesions that look similar to boils. They penetrate into the skin deeper and often cause permanent scars when they heal.

Treatment of Nodules and Cysts

It may lead to scarring and can be very painful so it should be treated by a dermatologist. People who develop this are always considered to have a severe form of acne.

GENERAL TREATMENT

Topical Therapy

Is an acne medication that’s applied directly to the skin, like gels or cream. They may contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, retinoid cream. These can be prescribed alone or in combination with other ingredients. During treatment, it’s important to use some moisturizing factors to control the dryness of the skin not immediately but 40 to 50 minutes after retinoid. Also, it’s very important to use skin protection because retinoid increases the sensitivity of the skin to sun or radiation.

Systemic Therapy

Refers to acne medications taken by mouth. Antibiotics like tetracycline, erythromycin may treat moderate to severe acne by aiming bacteria and reducing inflammation.

HOME REMEDIES

Due to the current state of the world and how stressful it is seeing and contacting a dermatologist. For this reason, many may prefer treating their acne at home with natural solutions. The milder the acne, the more easily it can be treated at home.

Cucumber Face Mask

If you’ve ever been to a spa, you’ve likely put cucumber slices on your eyes to reduce puffiness and they may not be a sham treatment. Cucumber has a soothing effect on the skin, reducing irritation, swelling, and pain. Hence, they can potentially reduce inflammation specifically associated with acne.

Tumeric Face Mask

For beautiful skin, brides in India traditionally use a tumeric mask before their wedding. This is likely due to the spice’s anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant properties, and its ability to significantly improve the severity of skin conditions like acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis.

Lemon and Baking Soda

Here is the image of what my acne looks like.

You may be wondering this is not as bad as I’ve described. I got rid of my acne to this stage with the help of baking soda. Here’s how I did it.

In a bowl, add one teaspoon of baking soda and squeeze the juice of half a lemon on it. Mix the two to get a thick paste. Now on a clean and slightly damp face, apply the mixture. Wash it off after 45 minutes of application and apply a moisturizer immediately afterward which will help reduce the risk of drying out.

Note: This should be done only at night and should be used not more than twice a week.

ACNE DETECTION USING AI

TIRAGE_ DETECT DISEASE IN A SNAP

A smartphone that allows a layperson to self-assess a skin lesion like acne, atopic dermatitis, skin cancer, and all.
This is an instant second opinion powered by AI like a dermatology tool in your pocket.
Let’s talk briefly on how it works.
Result: you get an instant differential of potential skin conditions where you’re to snap a photo to screen for thousands of skin conditions and symptoms.
Personalized and Privacy: Your results are determined for the photo you upload using advanced artificial intelligence to tell you your stage of acne and how to treat or manage them. Everything you share with tirage is confidential and stored securely.

Hope you enjoyed this? If this article in one way or the other has given you a tidbit of confidence and assurance on how to make your acne-affected skin glows back, I might get motivated by getting a clap and a share.

I’m just a text away if you need me. You can hook up with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Precious Kolawole

Precious Kolawole

Health Technology Enthusiast || Aspiring Dermatologist || Data scientist and Machine Learning Engineer