Though common, acne still frustrating condition

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Acne is a common skin problem for most adolescents - and for some adults. In addition to being a health issue, acne can be an embarrassing social issue as well.

Those who experience severe acne - especially teens - might even become emotionally scarred by social rejection. Quick and thorough treatment will help alleviate these issues.

Q. What is acne?

A. Acne is an inflammatory disease of the skin caused by changes in the metabolism of oil glands in the skin. Acne is thought to be the body's unusual response to relatively normal production of testosterone, a male hormone.

Q. Does acne have anything to do with my skin not being clean enough?

A. No, acne is not a sign that your skin isn't clean; it's more closely associated with hormonal and bacterial activity in the skin, which eventually leads to irritation.

That said, it's always best to rid your skin of excess oil and dirt that accumulate during your normal daily routine.

Q. What is the most common type of acne?

A. Not all acne is the same and there are several different forms. Some are considered more serious and more difficult to eliminate than others.

The most common type is acne vulgaris, which simply put means "common acne." It's usually composed of closed whiteheads or open blackheads that might progress to red bumps on the skin, which can continue further to white or yellow pus bumps.

This is the type of acne that most teenagers get. Deeper nodules and-or cysts can lead to permanent scarring.

Q. What causes teenage acne?

A. Large amounts of oil from the sebaceous gland combine with dead skin cells, clogging the pores. Because the skin's pores are blocked, oil continues to build up, allowing bacteria and yeast to spread. This excess of bacteria and yeast causes damage to the skin.

Q. Is there a cure for acne?

A. There is no quick miracle cure for acne, but nearly all acne can be controlled with treatment. Mild teenage acne may resolve with age; but severe acne, if not treated, can cause permanent scarring. If you have acne, consult with your dermatologist to find out the best course of treatment for your condition.

Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.

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