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Nov 27, 2008

Healthy Living explores causes and treatments for acne

Story PictureIt’s a health problem faced by at least eighty-five percent of the population. In severe instances medical attention is required but in other cases, it can be dealt with at home. Healthy Living this week looks at this common ailment.

Marleni Cuellar Reporting
It may not be a life threatening disease. It may not even register to most as a health concern. But when it appears, it has a way of completely lowering your confidence and raising consciousness about your image. I’m talking about acne. Some viewers may be thinking that their days of acne have been long gone, but think again.

Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja, Dermatologist
“First of all we need to know that acne is the most common dermatological condition we have. It’s said that around eighty-five percent of the population at any given age will have acne. We tend to have it more between twelve and eighteen or twenty years old but then we have like an important percentage of people, for example, and women up to forty-four years old will be like thirteen percent of them and men older than thirty’s, about four percent. So you get it also in little children; you have a type of acne which is called neonatal acne”

That’s right acne can happen at any age. It is not just a teenage problem.

Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja
“We’ve been seeing noticing this since the mid-ninety’s more or less. More women over thirty who didn’t have acne at all when they were adolescents, they are getting acne whenever they turn thirty or further into age. So right now we don’t know what the reason might be. We figure—or some of the others that study this—they feel it could be because of the lifestyle changes that there has been. Women now being more productive, going out of the house, this puts more stress on them. So this could be one of the causes of it.”

Adult acne is no different that adolescent acne. They’re all the same including the causes.

Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja
“The four main causes of acne would be hormonal imbalance, the second thing would be a bacteria which is called Propionibacterium acne, the third thing would be an abnormal building of the outermost layer of your skin which we call Hyperkeratinization and the fourth thing would be an increase production of sebum, it’s like an oil from the sebatious glands. If you put all these four factors together then you have the perfect mix for acne to appear.”

There are actually two main forms of acne; the inflammatory acne like the white heads and the blackheads and the non-inflammatory acne which includes red lesions, bumps and cysts. These are the forms that are most likely to leave scars.

Marleni Cuellar
“There is a common belief that the food that we eat, especially greasy or fatty foods is what causes acne. Is this true?

Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja
“Yes and No, that would be the right answer. Yes, because we know in certain people that would effect, that is a fact… like chocolate, like fry chicken which I find very popular here in Belize. So things like that would affect acne in some people. The literature states that it would be around five to seven percent of the people but it is something that has changed over time because a couple of years ago we still believed that diet or whatever you ate had an impact. Now we know it’s just in this small percentage of people that actually account for an acne flare or an outbreak.”

The rest of the population may not suffer breakouts based on their food choice. As for the treatment of acne, Dr. Lopez says that some of the medication that you purchase at the drug store may be all you may need.

Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja
“If you’re talking about mild acne, they could work. Once you see they’re not working then I would say you should see a dermatologist. We have to take certain things into account like age of the patient, if he has tried any medication before—that’s very important—the type of acne you’re dealing with like is it inflammatory acne or is non-inflammatory acne, the motivation of the patient. I find that to be one of the most important things because it doesn’t matter if you would give the best treatments for acne, if your patient is depressed, which happens most of the time or at least on an important extent, then he won’t actually get the medication, or take the medication or apply the medication or whatever. So all these things have to be taken into account before we go to a prescription, but overall we have topical treatments and we have oral treatments. So depending on the situation of the acne, then we decide for the oral or topical. Also it depends on the stage we’re talking about. Some people come in to get rid of the scars and for this what we can do is, for example, chemical peels or dermabrasions or things like that. But if you’re still talking about active acne, then you definitely want to go for medication.”

The most important advice we received from the dermatologist was simple: Don’t touch.

Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja
“First thing would be don’t not mess with the pimples, second thing, don’t mess with the pimples, third thing, don’t mess with the pimples.”

Marleni Cuellar
“No squeezing.”

Dr. Jorge Lopez-Granja
“No squeezing. If you want to squeeze, you can do it with your elbows.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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