Acnegenic: Products that induce inflammatory lesions (e.g. papules, pustules) to form. This reaction is a type of follicular irritant contact skin reaction that usually occurs within 2 to 3 days of using the product.
Acne excoriee: Acne that has been picked at or scratched repeatedly.
Acne vulgaris: The medical name for acne.
Aesthetician: A person trained to improve the appearance of skin through facial massage, application of skincare products or cosmetics, heat wraps, and similar techniques that affect only the skin surface.
Alpha-hydroxy acid: Naturally occurring acids, derived from the sugars in particular plants, that are sometimes used in skin care products to promote turnover of dead skin cells.
Androgens: A class of hormones including testosterone and DHEAS. They cause the sebaceous gland to enlarge and produce more sebum, which is an important factor in the causation of acne.
Antibiotics: A large category of drugs that target bacteria.
Antioxidants: A substance that binds to free radicals, which can damage skin cells, in order to prevent such damage.
Azelaic acid: A natural material produced by a yeast that is used as a topical treatment for mild to moderate acne.
Benzoyl peroxide: An antiseptic commonly used topically in the treatment of acne. It does not induce bacteria resistance.
Biopsy: Collection of a tissue sample for laboratory examination, usually in cases where cancer or similar disease is suspected.
Blackheads: A type of acne that does not contain active bacteria. The contents of the follicle have turned black after exposure to oxygen. Also called open comedo.
Blemishes: Blemishes are marks or areas of discoloration on the skin.
Chemical Peels: The application of one or more chemicals to the face that “burn” off damaged cells.
Chlorhexidine: A broad –spectrum anti-microbial agent sometimes used in antibacterial soaps.
Clindamycin: An antibiotic effective against specific bacteria, sometimes used in acne treatment.
Closed comedo: A type of acne lesion that looks white. There are no active bacteria in this type of lesion.
Collagen: The main protein in connective tissue. It is responsible for the elasticity of the skin and plays a prominent role in development of scars.
Comedogenic: Products that induce open or closed comedones to form after about 2 to 3 weeks of use. Some products are labelled noncomedogenic, but this term is not specifically defined in the federal guidelines.
Contraindicated: A medication or procedure that should not be provided to or performed upon a patient with a particular illness because it will cause harm.
Corticosteroids: A group of anti-inflammatory drugs often used to inhibit allergic reactions or to treat severe inflammation.
Cryotherapy: A treatment in which surface skin lesions are frozen using liquid nitrogen, carbon dioxide “slush”, or other cryogens.
Dermatitis: Inflammation or irritation of the skin.
Endometrial cancer: The most common type of uterine cancer.
Erythromycin: An antibiotic commonly used to treat skin infections.
Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus.
Esters: Oil-like emollients sometimes found in skin-care products.
Estrogen: Female sex hormone.
Exfoliation: The process of removing the upper layers of dead skin.
Exogenous ochronosis: Dark brown or black spots that occur in skin that has been treated with hydroquinones in large doses or for extended periods.
Follicular plug: Blockage of the opening of the follicles. This is the one of the first steps in all types of acne.
Glands: A group of cells that make a substance for use in the body.
Glycerine: A common additive in soaps and moisturisers to increase the moisture content of the skin.
Hair follicles: The unit that contains the hair and the roots of hair. It starts in the dermis and connects to the surface of the skin. There are hundreds of hair follicles on the face, most of which contain miniaturized hair that is not visible from the surface of the skin. Blockage of the follicle is called a follicular plug and is an early step in the process of all types of acne.
Hepatitis: Any disease featuring inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by viral infection, alcohol or drug abuse, or exposure to certain toxins.
Heredity: The traits you get from your parents, such as tendency to acne, hair colour, height, etc.
Hirsutism: The excessive growth of hair on a woman’s face, torso and limbs, and is generally caused by increased androgens. It is a common sign of polycystic ovary syndrome in woman.
Hormone: A chemical substance formed in one organ of the body, such as the adrenal gland, pituitary, or the ovary, etc., that is carried to another organ or tissue where it has a specific effect.
Hydroquinone: A class of chemicals that lighten the skin.
Hyperpigmentation: Darkening of skin caused by higher amounts of melanin in a particular spot.
Inflammatory acne: A class of acne where the main lesions are papules and pustules, not comedons.
Intense pulsed light treatments: Treatments that incorporate a broad band of visible and near infrared wavelengths of light, blocking out other wavelengths. This produces broad bands of light that can penetrate various depths of skin and target both red and brown lesions. It also helps with collagen production, which makes skin look younger and more resilient.
Lasers: Machines that produce single bands of light, with different lasers being able to produce different single bands. These bands can be used to target various elements in the skin to help improve skin texture, tone and quality.
Lesion: A mark in the skin.
Lithium: A chemical element often used as a mood stabilizer.
Lupus erythematosus: An autoimmune disorder where antibodies are created against the body’s own tissues, leading to a host of symptoms including a rash on the face.
Menstrual period: The monthly, cyclical bleeding cycle women experience when they are not pregnant. Irregularities in this cycle can indicate hormonal imbalance that can be an aggravating factor in acne.
Metabolism: Our bodies’ natural energy requirements.
Microcomedo: The first stage of any type of acne lesion. It is so tiny as to be invisible.
Oral contraceptive: Medications used by women to help prevent unwanted pregnancy. This category of medications is also now being very effectively used in the treatment of acne vulgaris in women. They decrease DHEAS and free testosterone levels and increase sex hormone-binding globulin.
Oxidation: Changes that occur after exposure to oxygen.
Pilosebaceous unit: The grouping containing the hair follicle and attached sebaceous gland.
Polycystic ovary syndrome: A hormonal condition in women where the ovaries overproduce specific hormones. This can be manifest in the skin as increased and more severe acne, increased hair growth on the face, and hair loss on the scalp.
Pomade acne: A type of acne due to ingredients used in the hair. This acne is most commonly comedonal and is usually found on the forehead and temple regions of the face.
Pores: Openings of the follicles to the surface of the skin.
Prednisone: A corticosteroid commonly used to treat inflammation.
Prophylactically: A treatment or medication used in the absence of active disease, in order to prevent the condition from recurring.
Puberty: Age at which sex hormones kick in, followed by specific changes, such as menses in girls and beard growth in boys.
Punch grafting: A technique that uses a cookie cutter-type blade to punch out a scar, followed by adding skin from another site to fill in the hole.
Retinoids: Products, generally in the vitamin A family, that act at specific sites called retinoid acid receptors.
Retinol: Vitamin A
Sebaceous glands: Oil-producing glands located in the deeper layers of the skin. They attach to the hair follicles and the oil travels up the follicle to end up on the surface of the skin.
Sebaceous hyperplasia: A condition caused by UVA exposure in which sebaceous glands grow and become lumpy and prominent in the skin.
Sebum: Oil produced by the sebaceous glands.
Squalene: Found in the sebum, squalene is an important precursor to androgen production.
Surfactants: Chemicals that lower the surface tension of a liquid, allowing easier spreading; they are often used in soaps and detergents.
Tetracyclines: Class of antibiotics typically used in the treatment of acne vulgaris.
Thromboembolism: Blood clots.
Topical: A product that is used on the skin, such as a cream, lotion or gel.
Tretinoin: Medication commonly used in the treatment of acne vulgaris. This compound is in the vitamin A family.
Triclosan: A potent wide-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal agent.
Whiteheads: A type of acne lesion. White heads are white bumps in the skin that are closed to the surface. Also called closed comedo.