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Acne and African Skin

September 2012

What is Acne?

Acne/ak’ne/ is an inflammatory, papulopustular skin eruption occurring usually in or near the sebaceous glands on the face, neck, shoulders, and upper back. Its actual cause is still unknown but involves bacterial breakdown of sebum into fatty acids, wax esters, triglycerides, and squalene, irritating the pore surrounding the subcutaneous tissue. To put the full potential of this activity into perspective, one square inch of facial skin can contain up to as many as 5,000 sebaceous glands harboring millions of bacteria and infinite corneocyte corpses.

In addition to these substances, a more commonly known culprit, “oil”, is the igniting fuel for the acne flare-up along with these other resident perpetrator’s of bacteria and dead skin cells.

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Targeting Adult Acne

November 2005

LAST MONTH, WE DISCUSSED HOW ACNE IS A FACT of life for many women. Truth be told, millions face off with this skin disease daily. To complicate matters, many are simultaneously battling the clock. Recent research has led to a greater understanding of acne in mature skin. Estheticians need to recognize that the sebaceous gland is fuel to acne’s fire. The manifestation of rapidly shedding bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil compound the issue by taking up residence in this microscopic environment and causing a reactive immune response, which leads to inflammation and deep-seated acne lesions in mature skin.

This condition can cause hurdles for both skincare specialists and clients. There is the difficulty in treating both the aging process, which includes dehydration, pigmentation, sun damage, and wrinkles, and the complications that come with acne, such as bacteria, breakouts, and oily skin. Striking a balance between the two is key. Inflammation is a major challenge caused by acne and the ultimate enemy of mature skin. It can cause significant destruction such as the breakdown of elastin and collagen, the major protein support of the skin. This breakdown hastens the onset of wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Defeating acne along with other aging issues can be accomplished with various treatments now available.


Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA) peels are both effective options for treating acne and wrinkles at the same time. They offer a safe approach to healthy skin rejuvenation for acne, aging, and pigmentation. AHAs are fruit acids that “rev up” cellular turnover for the emergence of new, healthy skin. They help control acne by unroofing pustules, eradicating bacteria, and breaking up the buildup of dead cells in the follicles. BHA, more commonly known as salicylic acid, is a dermatologic mainstay. Salicylic acid provides one of the most effective ways to control acne with its exfoliating power. It helps increase cellular turnover without injuring the skin.

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Used with permission.

Acne for all Ages

October 2005

ACNE, OFTEN THOUGHT OF AS AN ORDINARY teenage condition, is in reality a common skin disorder afflicting people of all ages. Women, especially, can be affected throughout various stages of their life. This potentially scarring disease of the pore can cause significant damage on and below the surface of the skin. Acne can take a psychological toll on those who suffer from it—causing feelings of poor body image, low self-esteem, and depression. As a wellness professional, you should be as concerned about your clients’ mental health as you are about their physical well-being. Recognizing the debilitating impact of acne and working to treat it is an important goal. In order to treat acne, however, it is important first to understand what is causing it.

Unlucky Genes

Genetics play a key role in the development of acne. Despite popular belief, acne is not related to chocolate, fried food, exercise, or poor hygiene. It is caused by sluggish dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria in the pores. The condition is called retention hyperkeratosis and is the prerequisite leading to acne lesions.

The clinical evidence of acne can be confirmed with the appearance of whiteheads (closed comedones), blackheads (open comedones), and varying stages of manifesting pimples (pustules, nodules, and cysts) on the face as well as the back, neck, chest, and shoulders. Acne can be active for several months (acute) to many years (chronic). In the case of chronic acne, ugly reminders of past acne can include visible scars, pigmentation, or both.

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Used with permission.

Acne and Skin of Color

May 2003

Asian, African, and Latin skins are at the highest risk for hyperpigmentation of this type.

U.S. population statistics reveal a dramatic shift in demographics for the 21st century. It is predicted that ethnic skin, or Skin Of Color (SOC), soon will make up the majority of our population and, consequently, our clientele.

Acne is the number one skin condition currently treated by aestheticians. Acne is almost as common in black skin as white, and is the second most prevalent skin problem for Asians, and the third for preadolescnet Middle Eastern Arab females. Add to this the propensity for dyspigmentation in Skin Of Color, and the need for special care in treating SOC acne becomes clear.

Understanding differences in ethnic skin types provides considerable guideance to treatment methodology. Acutal treatment for acne does not vary greatly across ethnic lines; however, preparation for treatment does, partifularly when treatment will involve the use of chemical peels.

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Used with permission.

Physiology & Psychology of a Teenager

Not Dated

Body Anatomy and Teenage Hormones

“TEENAGER” appears to be the expressive idiom for uncontrollable hormones as adolescent bodies experience various physiological changes, including skin and body transformations resulting in unwelcome acne and weight gain directly affecting a teenager’s self-image. It is a complicated time of life for these young men and women. Professionally speaking, licensed aestheticians should pay close attention to this important youthful consumer market and offer specialized skin treatments in their spas or skin care clinics to serve teenage skin care needs.

To gain understanding of the complexities in a teenager’s body that directly affects their skin and self-image, it is imperative for aestheticians to have a basic knowledge of the human anatomy as it relates specifically to teenagers.

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