Acne is perhaps the most common chronic skin disease. It is an inflammatory condition of the sebaceous (that is, fat) glands and hair follicles usually found on the face, the neck, chest and shoulders. Approximately, eight out of ten young people between the ages of 12 and 24 suffer from some degree of acne.
It is closely related to the disturbance in the hormones experienced at puberty. The majority of patients recover between the ages 20 and 30 years. But it is still common in men over 30 years. In women, it rarely lasts beyond the early thirties and is normally worse before each menstrual period.
The disease causes a great deal of embarrassment at an age when people tend to be sensitive about personal appearance.
The skin, covering the entire body, is a marvellous and intricate mechanism. It serves three main purposes, namely protection of the inner organism, regulation of body temperature and elimination of cell waste and systemic refuse.
The skin is directly connected to and intimately bound up with the working of the whole system. All skin diseases, including acne, are the outcome of malfunctioning of the body as a whole.
Acne is characterised by the presence of comedones or blackheads, pimples, small superficial sebaceous cysts and scars. There are over half a dozen forms of acne. All of them are concerned with the sebaceous glands or the glands connected with hair follicles.
The most common form of acne is blackheads. The areas chiefly affected are the forehead, temples, cheeks, chin, the chest and back. In rare cases, almost the entire body may be covered with blackheads with extensive scarring.
All forms of acne have their origin in wrong food habits, such as irregular hours of eating, improper food, excess of starch, sugar and fatty foods. Chronic constipation is another major cause of acne. If the bowels do not move properly, the waste matter is not eliminated as quickly as it should be and the blood stream becomes saturated with toxic matter.
The extra efforts of the skin to eliminate this excess waste result in acne and other forms of skin disease. Yet another important cause of acne is a devitalised condition of the skin resulting from unhygienic living habits. Other contributing factors to the disorder are excessive use of tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco, strenuous studies, and sedentary habits which lead to indigestion and general debility.