About Acne

Acne is a very common, chronic, difficult-to-treat skin disorder that affects 40-50 million people in the United States alone.  In technical terms, acne is a disorder of the pilosebaceous unit, more commonly known as the pore. The pilosebaceous unit (pore) consists of a sebaceous gland, a hair follicle and the sebaceous duct.

When hormones overstimulate sebaceous glands, it can result in acne.  The sebaceous glands secrete sebum, a fatty, oily substance that empties on the skin surface through the opening of the hair follicle. The skin produces sebum in order to lubricate the skin and seal in moisture. Sebum, at normal levels, also helps protect the skin.


The Development of Acne

There are four main phases your skin goes through during the development of acne:

Hormonal stimulation of the sebaceous glands, causing increased sebum production.

During puberty, or at other times when hormone activity is stronger than usual, hormones can overstimulate the sebaceous glands. This overstimulation can produce excess sebum, creating oily skin, and in turn clogging the sebaceous ducts (pore openings).

Abnormal keratinization  resulting in plugging of follicles.

The skin naturally sheds dead skin cells, also known as keratinocytes or keratin cells. Keratin cells contain the hard protein keratin, the same protein that makes up fingernails and toenails. In acne sufferers, the process of shedding keratin cells is interrupted when the keratin cells do not flow smoothly to the skin’s surface to be sloughed off (or shed). Instead, with acne sufferers, these dead keratin cells stick together and build up and clog pores.

Increase of Propionibacterium Acnes (acne bacteria) within the pore.

Acne bacteria are naturally occurring organisms that live in the pores of the skin. As a pore becomes clogged from the build up of keratin cells, the level of acne bacteria increases, producing free fatty acids (FFAs). These free fatty acids are the primary irritating substances in inflammatory acne (redness, raised areas of the skin). In addition to the free fatty acids, acne bacteria also produce chemicals that signal the immune system to fight infection. As immune cells attack the acne bacteria in the pores, these immune cells also release toxins that contribute to inflammatory acne lesions (visible skin irritation and redness from acne).

Inflammation, as a result of immune cells attacking acne bacteria.

Inflammation is the body’s defense against injury, infection or allergens. With acne, when the body defends itself against the acne bacteria, the pore walls may be weakened. If the wall ruptures, sebum, bacteria and other toxins are released into surrounding tissue, provoking an inflammatory response that can result in larger acne nodules or cysts.

Acne may be mild (few, occasional pimples), moderate (inflammatory papules and pustules), or severe (nodules and cysts).

Mild Acne

Mild acne usually causes only whiteheads (closed comedones) and blackheads (open comedones). Whiteheads are white bumps on the skin, comprised of oil and keratin cells, caused by the clogging of pores. Blackheads are pinhead sized dark spots on the skin, caused by small amounts of clogging in pores. The reason that blackheads have a dark color is because the sebum and other material within the pore has been exposed to the oxygen in the air (oxidized). At times, these open and closed comedones may develop into an infection in the skin pore (irritation from the acne bacteria).  

Moderate Acne

Moderate acne suffers can see several to many whiteheads and blackheads (open and closed comedones), along with some bigger papules and nodules. A papule is a raised area of the skin. A nodule is a raised, hardened area of the skin that is larger than a papule.

Severe Acne

Severe acne can produce hundreds of whiteheads and blackheads that cover large areas of skin. Cystic lesions are pimples that are large and deep, and may be interconnected. These lesions are often painful and can leave scars on your skin.  Sometimes acne needs treatment with stronger medicines or a combination of therapies. Deeper blemishes, such as nodules and cysts, are more likely to leave scars. A dermatologist’s help may be needed to prescribe oral medications to bring cystic acne under control.

How AcneFree Products can Help Manage Your Acne

AcneFree products feature a range of different modes of application and active ingredient levels, as well as systems that provide an acne sufferer with a complete regimen of cleansing, moisturizing and treatment products.  We also have medications that contain a range of dermatologist-recommended effective acne treatment ingredients: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or sulfur, to adjust to the different needs of acne-prone consumers.


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