Acne is a very common skin condition that most people encounter at least once in their lifetime. Acne can be caused by hormonal changes, and since these changes most commonly occur during puberty, teenagers and young adults are often affected.

Between the ages of 11 and 30, about 75% of people will get some type of acne. Acne can appear in different levels of severity; mild acne can cause occasional pimples, moderate acne can cause more frequent and inflamed papules and severe acne can include large cysts or nodules of the skin.

What Is Acne?

Acne is actually a common skin disease that targets oil glands at the root of the hair follicle. Human skin is comprised of tiny pores. These pores connect to the oil glands that are found beneath the skin. The pores and the glands are linked together by follicles, which serve as small canals. The glands produce an oily liquid, which is called sebum, that carries dead skin through the follicle to the skin’s surface. The follicles produce hair, which grows through the skin. When the follicle is blocked or clogged, the oil forms under the skin, which causes pimples to develop. There are several types of pimples. The list below gives a description of each common type.

• Whiteheads: Small bumps under the skin
• Blackheads: Small black pimples that are visible on the surface of the skin
• Papules: Small, pink bumps that can be seen from the surface
• Pustules: Small, pink bumps with pus visible on the top
• Nodules: Large and visible pimples that are commonly painful and deep within the skin
• Cysts: Large painful pimples that are pus filled and often cause scar

What Is Cystic Acne?

Cystic acne is considered the most severe form of this skin disease, but is also the least common. According to the CDC, about 2 out of 1000 people are diagnosed with this type of skin condition. Cysts can form when inflamed clogs, or plugs, of the follicle rupture. This type of acne can cause long term or permanent damage if not treated. Some examples of damage include:

• Scars with pits
• Large, deep pitted pores
• Shallow craters on the skin
• Red and raised scars (hypertrophic scars)

Treatment for cystic acne may require a visit to a dermatologist or other specialist because the drug used, isotretinoin, is very controlled by federal regulations.

What Is Hormonal Acne?

Hormonal acne occurs when there are changes in hormones within the body. This type of acne tends to cause breakouts under cheekbones, around the jawline and occur around the time of hormonal changes, often triggered by menstruation. This type of acne is tender to the touch, pus filled and deep. In the case of hormonal acne, the most successful treatments for acne are often hormonal as well. For example birth control pills that regulate hormones are effective. Herbs may also be good treatments for acne because they detoxify and balance the hormones in the body naturally.

What Is Body Acne?

Those with facial acne tend to have body acne also. Acne on the body occurs as any acne does, but because the skin is thicker and pores are larger on the body than the face, this acne is often greater in severity. Pimples or red spots found on the legs, arms, shoulders and buttocks are often attributed to body acne. Sweat or irritation due to clothing can be the culprits for clogged pores that lead to body acne. Benzoyl peroxide combined with glycolic acid in a solution is a good treatment for this type of acne. Some sufferers with more severe cases of body acne may require isotretinoin and the care of a specialist.

What Is an Acne Diet?

There are several things you can introduce into your food regimen to deter the formation of acne on the skin. This is referred to as an acne diet. It is important to have plenty of dark green vegetables and water to help with cleansing and detoxification. These foods will also reduce inflammation in the digestive system. Foods containing Omega-3’s will also lead to a more balanced body as well as reduction of inflammation due to hormones.

Some acne sufferers have great results by cutting certain foods out of their diets as well. Milk, which contains quite a few hormones, increases oil production, which can cause acne. Eating foods with a lower glycemic index has proven to reduce oil production. This is because the glycemic index is directly related to sugar content, which increases oil production as well. Not only will an acne diet of vegetables, water and foods low in sugar in calories help with acne, it will also help a person to be healthier and happier. Stress can also have an effect on acne and healthier people are less stressed in general.