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What is Acne?

Acne is a term generally applied to eruptions on the skin like pimples, pustules, papules, nodules and small cysts etc. of varying characteristics. It is an inflammatory, papulopustular skin eruption occurring usually in or near the sebaceous glands on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back and other parts of the body. It involves bacterial breakdown of sebum into fatty acids irritating to surrounding subcutaneous tissues. Acne mostly affects the teenagers but is not restricted to this age group. It can occur in adults and middle-aged persons too. Acne is not a life threatening eruption but is quite troublesome and has great cosmetic value particularly if it occurs on uncovered parts of the body like face and neck. At times, particularly in severely aggravated cases, it may leave permanent scars on the skin.

Common Acne Types

Acne is of various types. At times acne is named by the location where it occurs like face acne, neck acne, chest acne and so on and similarly according to the age as for adult acne. Acne rosacea and acne vulgaris are the types that occur more commonly. Each type has its own characteristics. Some types are painful to touch but some are not. The eruptions may or may not have puss formation. Blackheads and whiteheads are also broadly categorized as acne.

Acne Rosacea:

A chronic form of acne seen in adults of all ages and associated with telangiectasia, especially of the nose, forehead and cheeks. It is characterized by small pimple on cheeks usually below the cheekbones accompanied by redness. This type occurs mostly in the adults and is at times called adult acne.

Acne Vulgaris (Acne Simplex):

A common form of acne seen predominantly in adolescents and young adults. Acne vulgaris is probably an effect of androgenic hormones (which stimulate the production of sebum) and Propionibacterium acnes in their follicle. It is said that it also results from the bacterial infection.

Some other types of acne are:

  • Acne Artificialis: An eruption in the skin caused by an external irritant such as tar or ingestion of halogen compounds.
  • Acne Cachectocorum: An eruption or irritation of the skin that may occur in patients who are very weak and debilitated. It is characterized by soft, mildly infiltrated pustular lesions.
  • Acne Conglobata: A sever form of acne with abscess, cyst, scar and keloid formation. Acne conglobata may affect the lower back, buttock and thighs, as well as the face and chest.
  • Acne Indurata: A pathological skin condition characterized by extensive papular lesions that often produce sever scars.
  • Acne Keratosa: A skin condition characterized by hard conic plugs that usually appear at the corners of the mouth and inflame surrounding tissue
  • Acne Necrotica Miliaris: A rare chronic type of folliculitis of the scalp occurring mostly in adults and characterized by tiny pustules.
  • Acne Papulosa: A common pathologic skin condition that develops small papular lesions that usually do not become inflamed. It is considered a papular form of acne vulgaris.

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