Standing in front of the mirror one day admiring your once clear face, you notice a blemish. “Shouldn’t have eaten that chocolate bar yesterday, or that slice of pizza the day before,” you think.
However, acne is not caused by dirt, chocolate, fatty acids or stress. Shankar Shetty, director of Student Health Services, said students think blemishes result from drinking soda, eating chocolate or eating fatty food.
“That has nothing to do with it,” he said.
According to acne.com, a blemish actually begins approximately 2 to 3 weeks before it actually appears.
Affecting more than 90 percent of all adolescents, 50 percent of all adult women and 25 percent of all adults, acne is one of the most widespread medical conditions in the world according to acne.com.
As the skin renews itself, old cells die and are sloughed off. Blemishes occur because some people don’t shed cells evenly. When dead cells become sticky, and clump together it forms a plug, or comedo, that traps oil and bacteria inside the follicle.
Shetty said that acne increases when the hormone levels increase, which is why it is so prevalent in teenagers.
“Usually it gets better as you get older because the hormone levels decrease,” Shetty said.
Many students are unaware of the true source of acne.
“Most students don’t think it’s clogged pores,” said Donel J. Richemond, 24, a senior business administration student from Belle Glade.
“I think most students think it’s a blood disorder or disease.”
Mashae Alderman, 20, a sophomore general studies student from Jacksonville, disagrees with the research that stress does not cause acne.
“I believe it really is from clogged pores, but I honestly believe it is from stress,” she said.
In reality, stress is related to acne in that physical tension causes the body to produce more oil. The likelihood is higher that the excess oil will mix with the dead skin cells, clogging pores and trapping bacteria inside.
The lack of a cure for acne drives people to take care of blemishes themselves.
Tamika Jackson, 20, a sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, said she picks at her facial acne.”I feel like I’m making it go away quicker,” said Jackson, a computer information science student.
Alderman said she uses acne medication to get rid of her blemishes.
Acne.com dissuades squeezing or picking blemishes because it can force bacteria deeper into the skin. The end result is inflammation, and possible scarring.
“Don’t pop it,” Shetty said. “It’s risky to squeeze (bumps) in the mouth and nose area. It can cause blood clotting to the brain. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it is a possibility.”
Many students will take the risk.
“I believe appearance is important,” Alderman said. “It makes you feel insecure when you have pimples or acne. A lot of people don’t get theirs taken care of, but I would.”
Acne victims tend to over wash their faces or over use harsh scrubs to remove excess oil. However, the drier skin gets the more oil it produces.
Alcohol is often used as a drying agent. However, rubbing alcohol, a strong astringent, strips the top layer of the skin and results in the production of more oil in addition to dry skin.
Though sun exposure may seem to temporarily lessen acne, eventually the condition just worsens.
Although there are many misconceptions there are many ways to combat acne.
There are a variety of “over-the-counter” products that can help treat acne.
Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that causes acne.
Proactiv® Solution is a dermatologist-formulated combination therapy acne management system.
Salicylic acid unclogs the pores and encourages skin renewal.
Retinoids unclog pores and promote healthy sloughing. Antibiotics kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. Oral contraceptives help regulate hormone levels. Anti-androgens inhibit the body’s production of acne-causing hormones.
Shetty and acne.com recommend Accutane for cystic acne – an irregular type of acne that contains pus and leaves lesions.
For those who don’t like chemicals, acne.com suggests showering immediately after exercising. This helps because heat and moisture trapped against the skin aid the spread of bacteria.
Sleep, though often underestimated, helps strengthen the immune system and in turn helps the body fight recover. Another nonmedicinal form of treatment is to exercise and do some thing that many students forget to do – relax.