There’s an ugly zit on your face. Ugh, what is that? Is it really just a pimple?
Acne, by definition, is a disease of the pilosebaceous unit of the skin, i.e. the hair follicle, pore and its sebum-producing gland. It’s a sequence of events that involve abnormal skin shedding, pore plugging, increased “oil” production, infection by P. acnes and (boom!) inflammation that makes it all red and swollen, even painful. Acne is by far, the most common cause of these dreadful sores.
It is of course prudent to consult with your doctor to make sure it isn’t something else, however unlikely– such as a primary infection with some bacteria or virus.
One condition that is commonly confused with acne is rosacea. It looks like acne, except that there are no whiteheads or blackheads to be seen. It is once thought to be uncommon in Asians, but one might say that it is also often missed. (Well, this may not be too bad since the treatments are somewhat similar in both conditions.) You may suspect it if your zits come on with facial redness or flushing or is triggered by alcohol, hot & spicy foods, hot baths, sunlight, stress or exercise.
I’ve ever had a patient ask me, “Why can’t I do a blood test to find out what is causing the acne??”
Well, acne is a clinical diagnosis. There is no blood test to prove it, unless another condition is suspected and require exclusion. Skin biopsies are unnecessary too– don’t waste your money and pains.
So why are you reading this article on acne?
First and foremost, acne has proven in some studies to pose a real psychological problem in those who suffer from it– what with low self esteem, lack of confidence, reduced social enjoyment, etc. Secondly, early treatment of acne reduces the likelihood of scarring later on, especially if treatment of potential scarring is started earlier. Scarring occurs about 50% of the time and includes (but is not limited to) hyper-pigmentation, pockmarks, keloidal and hypertrophic scars. Once scarring has set in, it’s much harder to treat.
So in conclusion, if you have acne woes, don’t hesitate to seek treatment for it and to seek it early! 😀