Acne (pimples, in common language) is a common long standing problem seen generally in adolescents but can at times extend up to age of 35-40 years. In adolescent youthful years of life, boys and girls have an innate desire to look good. Acne spots give a big blow to self-confidence and body image of an individual. Previous generations considered acne as a harmless disease. But in today’s world, presentation is very important and thus, personality and overall appearance has become very important for any kind of job and matrimonial search.
Acne treatment is not a cakewalk. It might require long time to control and may require blending of various treatments.
Oil producing glands (Sebaceous glands) are attached to hair follicle. They enlarge during puberty under the influence of hormone; androgen and start producing large amount of sticky secretions which block/clog the glands. If this secretion remains blocked for a long time there can be colonisation of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. which can lead to symptoms like pain, discomfort, reddening of pimples, pus (yellow / white material) oozing out etc.
It is important to treat such acne first as these can lead to scars and pigmentation in future. Some people have a habit of pinching/ breaking /scratching of pimples which can also lead to complications like scarring and pigmentation, which are difficult to treat.
Acne can run in families also. Body parts other than face, like back, chest, shoulders can also be involved.
Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) which is common in girls (which is generally linked to modern life style) can cause increased severity of acne. Such girls may also have weight gain, irregular menses, facial hair etc.
Boys going to gym may take supplement / injections containing androgens or other medicines for body building which can lead to acne.
Food products with high glycaemic index are prone to increase acne. Few examples include fast food / junk food (Samosa, Wada pav, chips, pizza, burger, Chinese, chocolates, etc.) may aggravate pimples. Milk though is a nutritious product, is shown to increase acne and hence should be consumed in a limited manner by acne sufferers.
Stress due to exams, increase use of cosmetics and environmental factors can play an important role in acne.
Different treatment options are available depending on severity of acne. Mild acne (black/ white heads) can be treated with certain creams and ointments (clindamycin, benzoyl peroxide, topical retinoids). Moderate to severe acne (red, pus filled, painful pimples) are our special concerns and should be given special attention because they have the tendency to lead to scarring and pigmentation. For the same certain oral antibiotics (Azithromycin, Doxycycline, Minocycline) in adequate doses, along with applicants are advised.
Isotretinoin which is a Retinoid (vitamin A analogue) is relatively newer, more powerful and advanced treatment option for acne, which has revolutionised the treatment of acne. Some blood tests are mandatory before starting Isotretinoin, unless the dose given is very small. It is probably the most effective drug against severe acne.Some important points regarding isotretinoin are as follows: