Your skin : Acne Treatment Guide

The human skin is the largest organ in the body which fulfils a variety of functions such as absorption of Vitamin D via sunlight, perspiration, protection against infection and regulating our temperature.

Skin structure

The skin is comprised of three layers:

  • Epidermis: this is the name given to the outer layer (top) of the skin. This is responsible for replacing old skin cells with new ones on a constant basis. We lose around 40,000 skin cells each minute of the day. Around 95% of cells within the epidermis produce new skin cells but the remaining 5% produce a substance called melanin which gives your skin its colour. The more melanin you have in your skin the darker its colour. This also determines your ability to tan or not. A higher concentration of melanin means that you will tan more easily than someone with a lower amount.
  • Dermis: the middle layer of the skin. This lies directly under the epidermis and contains blood vessels, nerve endings, sebaceous glands (glands which produce oil called sebum which lubricates the hair and skin) and sweat glands. It also contains collagen – a group of proteins which connect body tissues together and gives the skin its firmness and elasticity. This elasticity slackens as we age which results in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin.
  • Subcutaneous layer: the lower layer of the skin. This contains hair follicles and fat and acts as a shock absorber as well as insulating the body.

Your skin can be normal, dry or oily. Oily skin has one advantage in that the skin lubricant sebum helps to keep it moist and shiny which means that it is less likely to show signs of ageing (e.g. wrinkles).

But a downside of this is that people with oily skin tend to have large pores which can easily become clogged up with sebum. An over-production of this oily substance prevents dead skin cells from being completely removed which then blocks the hair follicles.

Excess amounts of sebum combine with these dead skin cells to provide a ripe breeding ground for acne.

Another factor is gender: men have larger sebaceous glands and a thicker, acidic skin than women. This means that they produce greater amounts of sebum (oil) than women which increase their risk of acne.

This is why boys are more prone to acne than girls.

But what is acne?

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