Sebaceous Gland Disorders
This is a condition in which keratinisation of the skin occurs over the hair follicle, causing sebum to accumulate in the hair follicle. It is also commonly known as a ‘blind’ pimple. It usually accompanies dry skin and is seen as small, hard, pearly white cysts.
Common sites include the eye area and upper face. They may be removed by means of a sterilized scalpel, with which the overlying cuticle is pierced, freeing the milia.
Comedones / Blackheads
There are two types of Comedones:
- Open comedones are black in colour, due to the bacteria in the sebum reacting with oxygen and causing a black ‘head’ in the follicle.
- Closed comedones are usually white in colour as a keratinized cell blockage occurs.
The condition is generally characterized by excess sebum and keratinized cells that block the mouth of the hair follicle. It is not an infectious condition and usually found on the face – chin, nose and forehead, the upper back and chest.
Treatment includes the area should be cleansed, and an electrical vapour treatment or other heating treatment should be given to the area to loosen the ‘mouth’ of the follicle; a sterile comedone extractor should then be used to remove the blockage. A regular cleansing routine is recommended as well as gently exfoliating the skin 2-3 times per week to ensure that more blockages do not occur.
This is quite literally excessive secretion of sebum from the sebaceous glands. This usually occurs during puberty, as a result of hormonal changes in the body.
It is not an infectious condition. The follicle opening is usually enlarged and excessive sebum is secreted from said follicle. The skin appears rough and oily, with comedones, papules and pustules present. Commonly affected sites are the face and scalp, but can also affect the back and chest.
Treatment of this condition includes regular cleansing with a sebum inhibitating product, to remove and prevent excess oil. In some cases medical treatment is required.
Steatomas / Sebaceous cysts / Wens
This is a condition characterized by localized pockets/sacs of sebum, which form in hair follicles or under the sebaceous glands in the skin. The sebum becomes blocked, the sebaceous gland becomes distended and a lump forms.
It is not an infectious condition and appears to be semi-globular in shape, either raised or flat and can be hard or soft. The cysts are the same colour as the skin, or red if secondary bacterial infections occur in the cyst, which is a sign of inflammation in the cyst. A comedone can often be seen at the original mouth of the hair follicle.
It usually occurs in the face, back and chest, but can occur on the upper eyelid, in which case it is known as chalazion or meibomiam cysts.
The only way to treat this condition is to have the cyst removed by a physician under a local aneasthetic.
Acne vulgaris is caused by a hormone imbalance in the body at puberty, which influences the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. The sebum may be retained in the sebaceous ducts, causing congestion and bacterial infection of the surrounding tissue. The presence of P.Acnes causes the duct to become inflamed.
It is not an infectious condition. Inflammation of the skin, accompanied by comedones, pustules and papules is present in the area. Common sites are the face, nose, chin and forehead (T-Panel). It can however also appear on the chest and back.
The best treatment for this is to keep the skin clean and moisturized with a good, non-oily cream, which contains tee tree oil or salicylic acid to help regulate the oil. Regular facial treatments are also recommended to cleanse the skin well as well as increase blood circulation to the area. The other alternative is to take an oral antibiotic.
This is a condition which is seen by excessive sebum secretion combined with a chronic inflammatory condition, caused by dilation of the blood capillaries. The skin becomes rough, the pores enlarge, and the cheeks and nose area become inflamed, sometimes swelling and producing a butterfly pattern. Blood circulation slows in the dilated capillaries, creating a purplish appearance.
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