Acne Treatment, Causes, Prevention, Herbs for Acne

What is acne –acne definition

The term of ‘acne’ has been derived from the Greek word called acme that literally means ‘point, edge’. It also means the sense of ‘skin eruption’ when correlated with the conditions we know today. The term ‘acne rosea’ is a synonym of rosacea, nevertheless, some might not have any comedones linked with the rosacea.


Acne, also known as pimple is scientifically described as acne vulgaris. It is a condition of the hair follicles on various parts of the body (mainly face) that affect most of the men and women during their adolescences and youth. Though not typically caused by bacteria, they play crucial role in developing the condition. Nevertheless, there are many other reasons for acne to occur.

Acne vulgaris is commonest skin ailment that is characterized by seborrhea (red scaly skin), comedones (white and blackheads), pinheads (papules), pimples (pustules) and large papules (the nodules). Generally, acne affects the body site that is dense with sebaceous follicles such as areas of face, upper chest/thorax and the back. The acne may have inflammatory condition or can occur without any inflammation.

Most of the acne is observed in adolescents and teenagers. In adolescents, it is mainly caused due to an increase in testosterone that people of both the genders produce in their puberties. For all, acne diminishes of its own without any specific medication but then certain stubborn acne may require medical attention. Worse than that, septic, cystic and deep rooted acne seeks utmost attention by health care provider.

Though acne may not affect the body systems and is not considered to be the disease, it has great cosmetic value and for society conscious people, it is a hurt to their self esteem.

Acne signs and symptoms –what are the acne features

There are some typical features of acne namely…

  1. Nodules (large papules)
  2. Scarring
  3. Seborrhea (red scaly skin)
  4. Comedones (black and whiteheads)
  5. Pimples (pustules)
  6. Pinheads (papules), and
  7. Nodules (large papules)

Acne scarring –scars of acne

Acne makes the skin cells to inflame that in turn results in the acne scar. The scar is due to body’s self defense mechanism of healing the acne wound by accumulating too much collagen at one spot. Icepick scar is physical acne scar occurring due to indentation in the dermal surface.

The scars of acne can be classified into…

  • Icepick: These are commonest deep pits and classic signs of acne scarring.
  • Hypertrophic: These are thickened and keloid scarring of the skin.
  • Box car: These are angular scars generally occurring on the temple and cheeks. They are quite similar to those of chickenpox; deep or superficial.
  • Rolling: These scars make skin appearing like waves.

Causes of Acne –how acne occur

The causes of acne vary from case to case but generally, acne develops as a result of hair follicle blockage. There is a formation of keratin and sebum plug (called as hyper keratinization) in the early stage. The enlargement of sebaceous glands then produces the sebum in more quantity than required. It also increases androgen (DHEA-S) production. The microcomedo (keratin-sebum plug) enlarges and forms an open comedone (blackhead) or closed (milia).

The comedones are consequences of clogged sebaceous glands due to sebum (naturally occurring oil), debris or dead cells. Accumulation of sticky substance (the sebum) then attracts the microorganisms to stay and multiply. This all results in inflammatory conditions in the dermal layer what we know as acne, papule, pimple or pustule.

Acne causes –hormones

Hormones cause acne as stated by health experts. Hormonal fluctuation as in menstruation and puberty may contribute in developing the acne. During puberty, androgens (the sex hormone) increases and cause follicular glands to grow bigger and produce more sebum. Some health experts say that use of anabolic steroids can get similar sort of effects.

There are several hormones liked with occurrence of the acne including dihydrotestosterone, testosterone, androgens, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and also insulin-like growth factor. In pregnant women or those with underlying POD (polycystic ovarian disease), acne is common. Women may have acne breakouts during their hormonal changes such as menopause, menarche, pregnancy and lactation.

Genetic factors for acne –hereditary acne

Scientists do not deny having genetic factors responsible for causing acne. Acne is observed to run in families. The National Institute of Health (USA) also lists stress that can cause the ‘acne flare’.

Infectious acne –acne because of infection

P. acnes (Propionibacterium acnes) is an anaerobic bacterium responsible to cause acne along with Staphylococcus epidermis that is universally accepted for its crucial role. Normal follicles are observed to provide seat to P. acnes.

Generally, infectious acne require proper course of antibiotics as treatment. For those who fail to pay attention to this type of acne may require broad-spectrum antibiotics for longer duration.

Can diet cause acne –acne diet

It is debatable and controversial whether diet play role in developing or worsening the acne. There are many health care providers who believe that diet play crucial role in developing the acne whereas their counterparts firmly stick to the opinion that acne has no relationship with dietary precautions. Nevertheless, milk of cow and high glycemic load diet are observed to have linked with acne worsening.

In ancient healing science like Ayurveda believes that acne is more due to diet and then others. Diet that is spicy, oily, junk, canned, packed may have acne causing factors. Also, untimely diet, food that is heavy to digest may cause acne as said by Ayurvedic physicians. Foods with preservatives are observed to slower the digestion and cause constipation, the main cause of acne as believed by Ayurvedic and folk practitioners. Bowel cleansing on a regular basis (through enema, irrigation or hydration) helps in cleansing the intestines and thus heals the acne.

The treatment of acne –acne cure or acne remedies

The treatment of acne, acne cure or acne remedies depend upon the cause of the breakout. Nevertheless, for all sorts of acne, there are many different types of acne products available including benzoyl peroxide, retinoid, antibacterial lotions and creams, acne pills (herbal and tetracycline), salicylic acid based acne cream and lotion, kera-tolytic soaps and other cosmetics etc.

Benzoyl peroxide: This is most widely used acne first line treatment across the world. It is used to treat mild to moderate acne vulgaris. Benzoyl peroxide is found to be as effective as antibacterial products with almost all the concentrations it is available.

Antibiotics: Antibiotics help in clearing the acne those are due to microorganisms, especially the bacteria. The person may have to take antibiotic course for several days depending upon the severity of the case. Commonly used antibiotics for acne include clindamycin, tetracycline, and erythromycin etc.

Hormones: Most of the acne cases in females are due to hormonal fluctuation and hence can be treated with hormone supply. The common combined progesterone and estrogen method of hormonal contraception have beneficial effects in treating the acne conditions. Nevertheless, combination of estrogen with antiandrogen cyproterone is specially found effective in reducing the androgenic hormone levels, main cause of acne as believed by many health experts.

Topical and oral retinoids: As marketed as Accutane, Sotret, Clarus and Amnesteem, a daily oral intake of Vitamin A derivative (isotretinoin) is found useful in treating acne over the period of 4-6 months. The mechanism of isotretinoin is believed that it reduces the secretion of excess oil from the glands. The drug also has good effects on bacteria caused acne. The retinoid are observed to influence the cell creation and correct the life-death cycle of the cells that generally create the clogging of the pores. One can use topical or oral retinoid to cure and heal the acne conditions.

Modern technology for acne –surgery for acne or acne surgery

There are other contemporary options available to treat and cure acne permanently. Dermabrasion is a cosmetic surgical procedure wherein acne affected skin is removed by sanding (abrasion). It is mainly used to lessen the dark spots due to sun or other rays. Microdermabrasion is more natural skin care as compared to that of dermabrasion. It is less invasive surgery for exfoliating the skin.

Photo therapy is another way to cure and heal acne. Deep penetrating light therapy uses special violet light that is generated by dichoric bulbs, LEDs or lasers. It is scientifically proved that a course of this therapy would enhance the free radicals within the site and will kill the bacteria therefore. It has been licensed by the US FDA.

Laser treatment is another procedure approved by the US FDA wherein the laser is used to reduce the scars that are left by acne. The laser is used to burn away follicle sac, sebaceous gland and other acne causing material. Also it includes the formation of oxygen in the bacteria that naturally kills them.

Surgery of acne is last resort for treating the acne that is deep rooted, stubborn and turned into the cyst acne. Through surgical lancing, the acne is removed.

Acne herbal cure –herbs for acne or Ayurvedic acne treatment

There are certain herbs that are known to benefit the acne. According to Ayurveda, the blood purification helps in curing and treating acne. Herbs such as sariva, manjishtha, neem, aloe etc. help in purifying the blood and hence is used. One can use single herb or can go for the formula that contains blend of these herbs.

Ayurvedic acne treatment is available in the form of acne herbal cream, herbal pills acne, acne herb lotion, natural acne treatment cream etc. One can also use spices, herbs and other kitchen ingredients as home remedies for acne.