It is important to understand what causes acne and what the difference is between normal pimples outbreaks and mild acne to be able to treat it effectively.
The pores of your skin are medically referred to as a pilosebaceous unit. Each unit consists of a sebaceous gland, a hair follicle and a hair. The sebaceous gland is responsible for the production of sebum which is an oil that is essential in keeping our hair and skin moisturized.
Pimples occur when the sebaceous gland produces to much of this oil, causing the pore to collapse and the sebum to become trapped. This trapped sebum then forms a pimple.
Extreme or even mild acne is caused by a bacteria named propionibabcterium acne. This bacteria is present on all skin types and in normal cases does not cause acne. However, in cases where there is a greater than normal production of sebum, the amount of this bacteria increases.
This is because the bacteria actually uses the sebum as a nutrient. The resultant increase of the bacteria in the hair follicle activates the body’s immune system sending white blood cells to attack and eliminate the bacteria.
Unfortunately, the bodies defense mechanism often triggers unwanted side effects. In acne sufferers, the walls of the pores or hair follicle begin breaking down allowing the sebum to seep into the middle layer of the skin or the dermis. These appear as red inflamed nodules on the skin, different from normal pimples.
So what causes this increased production of sebum from the sebaceous glands in our skins? As an adolescent enters puberty, their bodies become flooded with hormones or androgens. These hormones cause the pores of the skin to become enlarged and as a result produce more sebum.
Sebum production normally stabilizes when puberty subsides into adulthood and the androgen hormones are no longer being released on such a large scale. So extreme or mild acne normally appears in young people between the ages of 12 and 20 years.
Not all adolescents will suffer with acne and it is unclear why some people get away with just a normal outbreak of an occasional pimple during puberty while others contract acne. What is clear is that there are specific treatments for mild to extreme acne – from natural to chemical solutions.
Following along the lines of the above explanation of the cause of acne, there are a number of different views that are taken on the best treatment.
Some medical experts believe that eliminating the bacteria on the skin is the best route while others believe that slowing sebum production is the way to go. Other professionals are of the view that lowering the amount of hormones in the system is the ultimate solution.
All three these routes work and it is dependent upon the severity of your acne and your own personal ideas that will define your treatment. Hormone therapy is only recommended for extreme acne sufferers as the disruption or imbalance of hormones can have other effects on the body such as delayed growth and development.
Eliminating the bacteria on the skin can help reduce the appearance of acne. However, it can also make the problem much worse in mild acne sufferers. If all the bacteria on the skin is removed, the sebum produced by the skin will not be naturally removed by the bacteria resulting in more nodules as well as ordinary pimples forming.
Controlling the amount of sebum being produced by the sebaceous gland may be the best route for mild acne sufferers although it is most definitely not the easiest route. Lowering sebum production means a cleansing, toning and moisturizing routine that is ideally suited to clearing acne away.
Cleansing and toning the skin three or more times a day will help decrease the amount of sebum on the skin while also eliminating some but not all the bacteria. However, over cleansing the skin and stimulating the pores will mean a greater production of sebum. So don’t clean to often or too vigorously.
Use a nourishing oil-free moisturizer. The sebaceous gland can begin limiting sebum production if the skin is already moisturized. A pore minimizing cream can also help to slow sebum production as well as limit the amount of bacteria that can enter the pore.