Health Science Careers
Acne is a problem that affects nearly every teenager at some point in their adolescent life. It is a condition that comes from the action of hormones on the skin's sebaceous (or oil) glands. These glands produce an oily substance called sebum. The sebum normally empties out onto the epidermis (the top layer of the skin) through the hair follicle opening (pore), but when the sebum is prevented from emptying out onto the skin, oil, cells, and bacteria are allowed to grow in the pore. This results in a "clogged pore" and a blemish develops. There are five kinds of blemishes: comedones are "non-inflammatory papules that can be open or closed", papules are "lesions that are inflamed and can be tender to the touch. These usually appear as small pink bumps on the skin", pustules are "lesions that are inflamed and filled with pus. They may be red at the base", nodules are "solid lesions that are large, painful and lodged within the skin", and, finally, cysts are "pus-filled lesions deep under the skin.
These may cause scarring and pain" (all of above, 2). There are two different kinds of comedones. An open comedo, or blackhead, occurs when sebum and dead skin cells congest the pore, but even though the pore itself is clogged, the surface remains open (5). This is what allows us to the see the "blackhead", although it is not black from dirt, the black pigment just comes from oxidized oil and bacteria (2). A closed comedo is commonly called a whitehead, and it is formed the same way as an open comedo except the pore is completely blocked off (5). Not only does the excess oil clog pore, but the bacteria that normally lies on the surface of our skin...