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Home: Diseases & Conditions: Acne: How Acne Forms?

Acne: How Acne Forms?

Acne Formation -

Look at your body hair. Each hair comes out of a pore. This is a hair follicle. Hair grows from this follicle. Each hair follicle is connected to a sebaceous gland. The sebaceous glands produce sebum, which keep the skin surface oily and protect the skin.

In healthy skin, the pore is open and the sebum comes out on the skin surface. In skin affected by acne, the opening of the pore gets clogged with dead skin cells. This blocks the sebum inside the follicle. Imagine a balloon that is getting filled. Similarly the follicle gets inflated as more sebum fills it.

At this stage, a bacterium called P.acnes infects the sebum and multiplies inside. The follicle gets filled with-

1. Sebum and
2. The bacteria that are multiplying.

The whiteness of an acne lesion is the pus formed by the dead white cells that fight the P.acnes bacteria. When the follicle cannot sustain the pressure inside, it bursts.

Acne develops in the following stages-

Blackheads and whiteheads -
In the first stage, blackheads and whiteheads develop. These are also called comedones. Blackheads are open at the top and the whiteheads are closed with skin. The black substance in blackheads is oxidized sebum. These comedones contain a mixture of sebum and dead cells.

Pimple -
In the second stage the follicle gets infected with the bacteria P.acnes. The bacteria multiply rapidly in the follicles due to absence of air and the presence of excess sebum and dead cells. This type of acne is called a pimple. Pimples may be of two types- pustule and papule. A Papule is cellular mass that is not infected while pustules are pus filled infected lesions.

Cysts and nodules -
In the third stage of acne inflamed nodules and cysts develop.

A nodule is a solid lesion, which is bigger than a papule. A nodule is highly inflamed and painful and extends deeper in the skin and causes scars.

A cyst is also severe acne. A cyst is a sac full of infected sebum, bacteria, dead cells and white blood cells. Cysts are much larger than pustules and infect the deep layers of skin like nodular acne. In nodulocystic acne, cysts and nodules develop together.

Article created on: June 14, 2006

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Acne & Sunshine

Despite the belief that acne gets cleared by sunshine, there is no scientific evidence to this. Excess sun can damage your skin rather than treating acne.

Click here to learn more on Sun Damage.

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