Dealing with Acne? Here are Answers to Some Important FAQs

Q: Who gets acne?

Answer: Acne is the eighth most common disease in the world. The sad fact is that 95% of people will have acne at some point in their life. For women, the onset of acne is at the age of 14-17 and 14% of these women have acne well into their 40s. For males, the age of 16-19 is the worst and 25% of adult men have acne.

In a study published on the National Institutes of Medicine website, 20% of the visits made to dermatologists by women in Saudi Arabia has been acne-related. Furthermore, winters in Saudi Arabia see more cases of acne than in summer months.

Q: What is acne?

Answer: What you call pimples is known as acne vulgaris in medical terms. The oil that is present on our skin is called sebum. When the pores in our skin are clogged by dirt or dead cells, it forms a pimple. Sometimes bacteria get into the pores of our skin and the pore gets inflamed.

Q: How many kinds of pimples are there?

Answer: There are six common types of acne (pimples). These are:

  1. Whiteheads
  2. Blackheads
  3. Papules
  4. Pustules
  5. Cysts
  6. Nodules

Q: What is a whitehead?

Answer: A whitehead is a flesh-coloured bump on the skin that is formed by a pore getting clogged from inside. They do not get red, sore or inflamed. Both whiteheads and blackheads are also known as comedones.

Q: What is a blackhead?

Answer: When a comedo (single comedone) gets exposure to air, the sebum gets oxidized and turns black instead of white as in a whitehead.

Q: What is a pustule?

Answer: When a red or white spot has a yellow or white head that is filled with pus in the centre, it is called a pustule. These are the pimples that we love to squeeze out, however if not handled properly, it can lead to scarring. The infection can spread and lead to the need for acne scar removal procedures. 

Q: What is a papule?

Answer: A papule is a small pink or red bump on the skin without a ‘head.’ Papules happen when a closed comedone or whitehead is infected by bacteria which multiply very quickly and inflame the pore. When the inflammation increases, it can develop into a cyst or nodule.

Q: What is a nodule?

Answer: A nodule is similar to a papule but usually 5-10 mm bigger and deeper and occurs in the dermis or subcutaneous fat layer of the skin. Due to its depth, the usual treatments might just dry out the surface of the nodule and the condition will continue to persist.

Q: What is a cyst?

Answer: Cysts may look similar to nodules but their cause is different. They are usually caused by hormones and result in pus-filled lesions under the skin. Normal acne scar removal procedures may not work on cysts and they might have to be surgically removed if the condition matures.

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