4 Stages In Acne Formation

If you understand the process of acne formation your outlook and approach to treating acne will most likely be revolutionized. A lot of people interchange terms like whitehead, blackhead, pimple, acne and zit but they are different and require a different approach to treatment. In this article we are going to address the “zit” since it is the worse of the lot for people physically and psychologically.

If we look much closer at the surface of the skin we are not going to see enough of what is happening in the process of acne formation, we need to view what is happening under the skin. You have probably seen a picture of a cross slice of skin illustrating the hair follicle, sweat glands and other subjects of the skin.

During the first stage we have a clogged hair follicle and we need to know how it got that way? Hormones are the first ingredients for a zit to form. The presence of these androgenic hormones are what make the sebaceous glands produce excessive sebum. The hormones originate from various origins. The first source that we are very familiar with is puberty, as a young man or woman enters puberty, hormonal levels are elevated causing significant growth and development in the body, which is essential but the fact that it stimulates the sebaceous gland to secrete more sebum is a negative side effect of the developmental process. There are other things that cause hormone levels to increase like stress, sexual stimulation and the consumption of dairy products. The first two cause hormone levels in the body while the third item, dairy consumption, includes the ingestion of hormones from a mother cow that were intended to help the calf grow quickly.

It is the level of these hormones in the body that cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum than is needed. Sebum is a natural product of the body that is necessary for lubrication of the hair and skin. If there is too much sebum it is not able to exit the hair follicle quick enough and with the skin cells constantly shedding the two, sebum and skin cells, stick together and clog the follicle. The bacterium that need to be present for acne formation is called Propionibacterium Acnes or p. acnes is always present in the skin and does not cause problems under normal conditions but in the presence of a clogged follicle that is warm, moist, dark, lacks oxygen and there is plenty of sebum to eat the bacteria set up camp and have a typical roman orgy with lots of eating and reproductive activities. This activity causes chemicals to be released into the body that the white blood cells pick up on and they go to break up the party.

At step 3 of the acne progression the white blood cells arrive and they come in with both barrels blazing. The white blood cells release chemicals that kill the bacteria but the chemicals also injure surrounding tissue in the process. The things that are building up in the hair follicle like bacteria (living and dead), dead skin cells and the white blood cells (dead and alive) are what show in the whitehead that is forming and is called “pus”. There is a slight inflammation of the skin and pink or red may be noticeable and it will become painful to pressure applied by the finger. It is at this time that you can know a pimple is forming.

Step 4 of the acne process is a more substantial growth of the pus. There are a number of situations that can take place at this time. The first thing that is common is for the person to squeeze the zit to make the whitehead go away. The terrible thing is that squeezing a zit is the worst thing you can do because of one of the three following results from squeezing the zit. To begin, squeezing the zit can cause the infection that is deep in the skin to be pushed into surrounding tissues of the skin and the acne will appear in other hair follicles. Second, the pus that is released onto the surface of the skin can infect other areas of the skin, spreading the acne and lastly, lifelong scarring can result. This scarring can be partially corrected by laser resurfacing, which is an expensive cosmetic procedure but most people live life with the scars. The scars that acne leave drive some people to emotional bankruptcy and they end up psychologically injured for the rest of their life. A good number of people experience depression and some of those will encounter suicidal thoughts creeping into their minds.

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