Acne is one of the most common skin disorders in the world. It generally occurs when dead skin cells and oil block the pores of the skin. In its common form, “acne vulgaris” (or pimples), this clogging results in the appearance of red and swollen blemishes in the skin. These inflammations occur mainly on the face, chest, back, shoulders and upper arms. There are other forms of acne that aren’t that mild. These can appear as – blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, papules or cysts.
Blackheads- These are caused by the hardening of oils in the skin pores due to the excess oil produced by sebaceous glands (the skin’s oil producing glands). The tip of the clogged pores, that is exposed to the air, turns black (due to oxidation) resulting in the formation of blackheads.
Whiteheads- Whiteheads are white raised spots that show up around the cheekbone, nose, or where the skin is fine. The formation of whiteheads is very similar to that of blackheads except that these occur where skin is delicate and the clogged grease does not get exposed to air. Therefore, there is no darkening of the tips (due to oxidation).
Pustules, Papules- Pustules are small pus-filled inflammations on the skin surface. These commonly occur on face, shoulder and the back. Papules are deeper inflammatory lesions that are raised and solid. In comparison to pustules, they take longer to heal and are known to result in scarring.
Cysts- Cysts are thicker, yellow pus-like inflammations. Quite often, papular or nodular acne results in the formation of a cyst. These inflammations may occur one at a time, or they maybe more than one over the common acne areas – face, neck, back, chest and shoulders.
There are treatments available for each form of acne. But, since the severity of the condition varies by individual, you are advised to consult a dermatologist to determine the best course of action.
The remaining 4 skin disorders Eczema, Psoriasis, Rosacea and Skin Cancer will be discussed in a separate article.