Acne is one of the most frequent skin problems beauty institutes are confronted with. Acne customers and above all the younger generation among them often go through a personal ordeal and generally have high expectations of a cosmetic treatment. Acne is a disease of the sebaceous follicles (the Latin word folliculus means tube) which lead into the hair canal.
Sebum which is produced in the sebaceous glands greases skin and hairs, forms a sliding film and seals the hair canal against the outside. Just around the area where the hair grows to the surface the horny layer is more delicate and has a funnel-like indentation. Thus the sebum released also transports all the horny layer cells to the surface which have been peeled off.
- Sebum contains among others:
- Triglycerides (oils) ca. 41%
- Wax ester ca. 25%
- Fatty acids ca. 16%
- Squalene ca. 12%
- Diglycerides ca. 2%
- Cholesterol ester ca. 2%
- Cholesterol ca.1-2%
P. acnes produces a series of fatty acids with comedogenic effects. Additional substances causing acne are mineral oils (oil acne), tar (tar acne), chlorinated hydrocarbons (chloracne), drugs (acne medicamenta) and cosmetic substances. Greasing elements take a top position on the list of cosmetic substances as for example lanolin, cetyl alcohol, saturated fatty acids and their esters which however only react with a simultaneously humid and oily skin. In cases of sensitive skin, ethoxilated alcohols and polyethylene glycols (PEG) play an important part as both are used as emulsifiers and solubilizers. With the influence of ultraviolet rays and atmospheric oxygen they develop peroxides which on their turn will generate aggressive radicals thus causing the so-called Majorca acne. As these substances are widely used the cosmetician is advised to carefully study the INCI declaration. Even today sun protection products still contain these substances.
Ethoxilated alcohols can be recognized on the INCI declaration either by their middle or final syllable -eth, as for example ceteareth-10.
Acne can also be fostered by tight-fitting clothes as they create a moist and greasy environment.
Influence of hormones
There are various forms of acne as well as various different terms. They frequently depend on the current hormonal condition and may appear before the menstruation, ovulation or after pregnancy. According to Gollnick (1993) four major factors are responsible for the development of acne:
- follicle hyperkeratosis
- sebaceous gland hyperplasia
- microbial hypercolonization
- inflammation and immune reaction
Sebaceous gland hyperplasia may even develop on the elderly skin with isolated nodules of yellowish color, mostly to be found on the front and cheeks of men with very oily skin. In general the frequency of acne cases decreases in the thirties with the exception of a certain group of women with a tendency to develop acne in this stage of life. Also in these cases a hormonal influence is assumed.
Linoleic acid and nutrition
Acne vulgaris which is the most common form of acne, of grade 1 or 2 responds pretty well to topic linoleic acid products prescribed by dermatologists and also used in beauty institutes as preventive measures. Preparations with linoleic acid in combined form which simultaneously have a vehicle function are more effective in this connection. A very interesting supplier of linoleic acid for skin care purposes are liposomes and nanoparticles, i.e. cell-like structures which are only visible with the help of electron microscopes. The base substance of liposomes is phosphatidylcholine (INCI declaration: lecithin). Nanoparticles have an additional and very useful property: They are able to store and transport sensitive substances as for example vitamin A which also supports acne prevention.
Clinical studies show that specific liposomal concentrates without any additional active agents reduce the number of comedones by more than 60 % and the efflorescences by more than 70 % within a period of 28 days.
Whether the essential linoleic acid taken in with nutrition also has positive effects on acne is not yet proved as it is differently metabolized in the skin. Isolated studies show that the consumption of animal fats and chocolate products containing hydrogenated fats have a rather supporting influence on acne. Extended studies however will not permit any generalization here. It is undisputed though that a calorie reduction for overweight individuals may also decrease the production of sebum and androgen which will result in a general improvement of the symptoms.
Part TWO of this article we will look at Treatments for Acne.
This article was supplied by dermaviduals®
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