Acne is one of the commonest skin problems. It produces unsightly spots on the face, neck, chest, back and upper arms. Although traditionally considered a teenage problem (8 out of 10 teenagers suffer from it), acne can affect people even in their forties. One out of every 20 persons have acne.
The sebaceous glands is the site of the problem – these glands produce sebum which contains cholesterol, fatty acids and waxes. Several things can go wrong with this fairly simple process. For example, the if the production of sebum increases or if the dead cells clog up the openings of the glands, the flow of sebum gets disturbed.
The pores get blocked and blackheads and whiteheads form. Later, red, swollen, inflamed pimples develop as the sebum spills into the surrounding tissue. These pimples might even get infected. Male hormones, the androgens, are thought to be responsible, at least in part, for the overproduction of sebum and the consequent development of acne.
In the past, diet had been held responsible for aggravating the problem. Hence for years, chocolates, spices and fatty foods were considered a taboo for acne patients. Recent studies, however have scientifically exploded this myth. So, dietary restrictions are no longer necessary to combat the onslaught of acne.
Other factors which affect acne are menstruation, stressful conditions, hot humid climates and genetic factors. Cosmetic preparations containing lanolin and paraffin are known to exacerbate acne. Pimples may also occasionally occur as a side-effect of drugs taken of other illnesses.