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How Common is Acne
Acne is one of, if not the most common skin conditions across the globe. According to the NHS, acne affects 95% of people between the ages of 11-30 in one form or another. It is most prevalent among girls aged 14-17 and boys aged 16-19 as these are the key years biologically for their bodies to develop and hormones to change. Girls develop earlier than men, meaning they are likelier to see hormonal changes that could impact their skin much earlier in their development.
However, acne affects us at later stages in life too. As our bodies develop throughout life, we regularly see hormonal changes. In the cases of adult life, hormonal development means our acne could continue later in life with 3% of cases continuing.
The Most Common Form of Acne
Globally, acne affects around 50 million people, with Acne Vulgaris (Common Acne), being the most common type of acne found on people worldwide. Adam Friedmann at Harley Street Dermatology Clinic explains that acne vulgaris is a non-inflammatory acne, with the presence of whiteheads and blackheads (also known as open and closed comedones) across the neck, shoulders and face. The look of acne vulgaris varies because of the types of comedones you might have. Acne Vulgaris comes in mainly mild to severe forms. The milder form of this acne can be treated with over the counter topical solutions, while more severe cases will require professional help and often a prescription to medication.
Different Types of Common Acne
While Acne Vulgaris is the most common type of acne, there are plenty of other common types of acne people suffer from.
Pustules are another common form of acne but are less common than acne vulgaris. This is typically a bacterial type of acne that can form when the walls around your pores break down. The acne spots become inflamed and fill up with pus. This is the type of acne that causes acne scarring because of the want to pop the pustules. This should be avoided at all costs, otherwise, the scarring tissue will cause further skin issues later down the line.
Nodular acne occurs under the outer layers of the skin, rather than the surface areas. As the pores clog and swell, the pores continue to become irritated and grow in size. They are sensitive to touch and are visible, looking like a cyst underneath the skin. Unlike other forms of acne, nodular acne requires professional treatment as home remedies that target the outer layers of the skin are not sufficient enough in penetrating and tackling the nodule. They can also scar if not treated effectively.
Cystic acne is a combination of bacteria on the skin, an increase in sebum oil produced by the sebum gland and dead skin cells combine to clog the pores. This is a more painful form of acne that is considered to be severe acne by dermatologists. Cystic acne is the largest form of acne resulting from severe infection. It’s also the likeliest acne type to scar, which is why it requires professional help, rather than at home or OTC remedies.
Acne conglobata is a common form of severe back acne. The nodules have been inflamed and have been connected to other nodules under the skin. This can also impact the neck, arms and bottom. It will likely result in acne scarring and is more common in men with higher levels of testosterone or men who are using steroids as this increases the testosterone levels beyond usual levels.
There is no over the counter treatment for this type of acne and visiting a dermatologist is the only effective way to begin recovery from this severe form of acne. Timely treatment by a dermatologist is essential.
Acne Scarring from Common Acnes
Acne scarring occurs from these types of common acne when the acne is either left untreated or in the case of pustules and other poppable acne types, is attempted to be popped by the acne sufferer. When the pustule is popped, the acne walls break down and cause the skin tissue to deflate inwards. For other types of acne that cause atrophic (outward) acne scars, the resulting acne scar is a raised bump of scar tissue on the outer layers of the skin.
Typically, these forms of acne scars can be treated with a course of medical treatments by dermatologists, combined with skin cleansing and nourishing routines. Treatment for acne scars depends on the acne scarring type. For example, boxcar scarring, ice pick scarring or rolling scarring. These vary in severity and may require treatments ranging from chemical peeling (bacterial and outer layer removal to induce skin cell rejuvenation), to acne laser treatments which are used in more severe cases to improve the quality of the skin and further encourage acne scarring reduction.