Acne is the scientific name for a chronic inflammatory disease of the oil glands and hair follicles of the skin. This condition is called by most people merely pimples and blackheads.
Acne occurs most often in boys and girls between the ages of twelve and twenty-five. The pimples and blackheads occur mostly on the face but can be found on other parts of the body, especially the back. In many cases the skin is excessively oily, so that there is much dandruff in the scalp and much itching, redness, and scaling behind the ears.
Acne is not caused by uncleanliness alone. Many people who are excessively active in caring for the skin and wash it constantly still have acne. The mostrecent view is that acne is related in some way to wrong action of parts of the glandular system of the body. Often acne is associated with difficulties related to digestion; in many instances it seems to be related to excessive indulgence in stimulants and sugar. Drugs like bromides or iodides, to which many people are sensitive, will increase the number of pimples.
Doctors differentiate various kinds of acne, such as acne vulgaris. Cleanliness is important in preventing infection with pus-forming germs and secondary abscesses and scarring. Blackheads should be squeezed out under careful conditions of cleanliness. The face should be washed thoroughly with hot water. The skin may be soaked in hot boric-acid solution containing about three heaping tablespoonfuls of powdered boric acid to three quarts of hot water. The face may be soaked for ten to fifteen minutes with towels wrung out in a hot solution of this kind. This will remove the grease and loose skin from the face. After this heating process the blackheads may be squeezed out properly with a special blackhead extractor. Then the skin may be treated with successive applications of cold water to contract the pores.
Specialists in diseases of the skin provide various ointments, salves, and pastes for irritated and infected skins. Ointment made with sulfonamide drugs or antibiotics like penicillin and terramycin are useful in preventing secondary pus infections but should be used only when prescribed by the doctor.