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Acne, the never-ending disease

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There is something many people have in common – pimples, zits, blackheads…acne.

According to statistics, blemishes cross all borders affecting 90 percent of adolescents, nearly 50 percent of adult women and 25 percent of all adults.

“Education is very key to understanding acne,” said board certified dermatologist and president of Indiana Academy of Dermatology Christopher Obeime. “The good news is we can keep it under control.”

Experts say the most important thing one can learn about acne is, it’s not your fault. Contrary to popular belief acne may not be caused by anything you’re doing such as eating food, water consumption, hygiene or work out routines. Dermatologists say blemishes are caused by factors beneath the surface of our skin far beyond one’s control.

According to acne.com faces are covered with tiny hairs, which all fit into a hair follicle, called a pore. Within each follicle, oil glands are producing sebum, which travel up the hair and out of the surface of the skin. Sebum’s job is to form a protective layer of the skin between one’s skin and the world, keeping it soft and smooth.

However, when androgens enter the picture, the glands go into overdrive. They produce extra oil, which can clump together with dead skin cells on the top layer of skin. When this sticky mixture finds its way into the pores, it acts like a cork in a bottle, trapping the oil and bacteria inside.

But the glands continue to produce oil and the follicle becomes swollen. The body’s natural defense systems, white blood cells, rush to the area and clean up the mess. The results are a pimple.

“When I first turned 13-years-old, I started noticing breakouts on my face,” said 18-year-old Kellena Green. “People used to gossip about me, it got to the point, that I no longer wanted to go to school. I didn’t know how to take care of it.”

Studies have shown that acne affects up to 85 percent of peoples’ self-esteem, which may result in suicide or depression.

“Especially in this day and age, kids are very self conscious about the way they look. (Acne) effects the way they feel about themselves,” Obeime added.

Dr. Lawrence Mark of Indiana University Dermatology says there are a multitude of different therapy treatments for acne, but not one product works for everyone.

Products such as Vitamin A, Benzoyl Peroxide and some antibiotics are just a few supplements that can help treat acne.

“Primary therapy includes breaking up the clogged plug, killing the bacteria and reducing inflammation,” Mark said. “Anyone can treat acne – that’s easy. However it takes someone that is good to get it better.”

Normally associated with adolescents starting to hit puberty, adults may also find themselves with an acne problem. Debra Gray has been experiencing acne since her youth, but thought as she aged it would fade.

“I thought it would only be in my teen years until I started reading articles about how it never goes away,” Gray said. “I tried numerous treatments, but none worked. I’ve been using Proactive for 10 years now and it works for me.”

For adults, blemishes may have more lasting physical ramifications. Dermatologist suggests that adult acne could leave permanent acne scars because as the skin ages and loses collagen, it’s harder for it to heal afterwards.

Acne has been a battle for many, for years. This fight amongst the skin may never be over, however it’s good to know that one can never lose if the proper precautions are apprehended.

“Acne is not a disease where we have a cure,” Obeime states. “It’s a chronic disease that we control.”

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