Cystic acne is the name for acne vulgaris and is commonly referred to as acne. When dealing with acne, it is important to understand what it is, how it forms, its causes, and treatment methods. Though it may be unpleasant for the person with the condition, it is rarely a serious health concern and is often more damaging to a person’s self-esteem than physical health. To understand the disease, one must begin by understanding the nature of the skin and its structure.
The skin contains various glands that surround hair follicles. These glands are referred to as Sebaceous and the structure or unit of skin containing the glands and hair follicles are called Pilosebaceous Units or (PSUs). Sebaceous glands produce oil that often exits the skin through an opening by the hair follicle referred to as a pore. When these areas become clogged with sebaceous oils, infection can set in. Trapped bacteria, oils, and germs cause the pores to become inflamed and produce various types of skin eruptions, such as blackheads, whiteheads, large nodules, and small pinhead-sized pimples. Acne vulgaris is considered an inflammatory disease and once the pimples erupt, the potential for scarring is present.
Cystic acne may appear on the face, neck, upper body, and back. Though many acne sufferers experience the most significant outbreaks during adolescence, the condition may strike at various times in life. Acne has several causes, one of which is an increase in the hormone testosterone. During adolescence, both males and females experience an increase in testosterone and those shifting hormone levels attribute to the cause of the disease. For many adolescent, acne sufferers, the condition may clear up on its own by the age of 25-years.
In addition to hormonal changes, this disease has other causes. These include diet, heredity, bacterial infections that cause the acne to spread, stress, and dietary factors. Several studies have linked certain foods to acne or causing it to worsen. One substance in particular that has been connected to acne is milk. Diets that contain many foods high on the glycemic index may contribute to acne development.
Bacteria associated with cystic acne, and that may lead to secondary infections include staphylococcus epidermis and propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). It is believed that these bacteria have a direct impact on the severity and attribute to those who have chronic inflammation. Many doctors seek treatment methods that seek to eradicate both bacterium and clearing up secondary infections.
Along with hormones, diet, and bacteria, stress has been attributed to acne breakouts. It is believed that stress causes the immune system to become weakened, making the body more vulnerable to breakouts and flare-ups. It is not sure, however, whether stress causes acne, or if it just makes the condition worse when present.
Heredity seems to play a role and those who have outbreaks often have a family member who also suffered from the condition. Of the many causes, hormonal changes are attributed as the most frequent cause. Cystic acne may be triggered due to hormonal causes such as puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause. It affects both men and women equally.
Those suffering from this skin disease should see their dermatologist or health care professional immediately. There are several prescription strength treatments, as well as herbal and other formulas, that may be used to treat the condition. For many acne sufferers, however, a holistic approach is taken and care is given to all areas. Reducing bacteria, eliminating stress, changing dietary habits to remove triggers and addressing hormonal factors work together to help clear up current breakouts and reduce future outbreaks.