Disorders of the Sebaceous
Following are common disorders of the sebaceous (oil)
Comedones (KOM-e-donz), or blackheads, are a
worm-like mass of keratinized cells and hardened sebum appearing most
frequently on the face, chest, shoulders, and back.
Blackheads accompanied by pimples often occur in youths
between the ages of 13 and 20. During the adolescent period, the activity of
the sebaceous glands is stimulated, thereby contributing to the formation of
blackheads and pimples.
When the hair follicle is filled with an excess of oil
from the sebaceous glands and an accumulation of dead cells occurs, a
blackhead forms and creates a blockage at the mouth of the follicle. Should
this condition become severe, medical attention is necessary.
To treat blackheads, the skin’s oiliness must be
reduced by local applications of cleansers and the blackheads removed under
Thorough skin cleansing each night is a very important factor. Cleansing
lotions often achieve better results than do common soap and water.
Milia (MILree-uh), or whiteheads, is a disorder of
the sebaceous glands caused by the accumulation of dead, keratinized cells
and sebaceous matter trapped beneath the skin. This may occur on any part of
the face, and occasionally on the chest, shoulders, and back. Whiteheads
look like small grains of sand under the skin.
Acne (AK-nee) is a chronic inflammatory disorder
of the skin, usually related to hormonal changes and overactive sebaceous
glands during adolescence. Common acne is also known as acne simplex or
acne vulgaris. Acne appears in a variety of different types, ranging
from noncontagious pimples to deep-seated skin conditions. Though acne
generally starts at the onset of puberty, it also afflicts adult men and
women. Modern studies show that acne is often due to heredity, but the
condition can be aggravated by emotional stress and environmental factors.
Adhering to a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and developing
healthful personal hygiene habits are all recommended. Acne is not caused by
any particular food, drink, or personal habit. Acne may also be present on
the back, chest, and shoulders. Acne is accompanied by blackheads, pustules,
and pimples that are red, swollen, and contain pus. The pus is seen as a
yellowish or white-tinged center in some blemishes. In more advanced cases
of acne, cysts appear, which are red, swollen lumps beneath the surface of
Seborrhea (seb-o-REE-ah) is a skin condition caused
by overactivity and excessive secretion of the sebaceous glands. An oily, or
shiny, condition of the nose, forehead, or scalp indicates the presence of
seborrhea. It is readily detected on the scalp by the unusual amount of oil
on the hair. Seborrhea is often the basis of an acne condition.
Rosacea (ro-ZA-se-a), formerly called acne rosacea,
is a chronic inflammatory congestion of the cheeks and nose. It is
characterized by redness, dilation of the blood vessels, and the formation
of papules and pustules. The cause of rosacea is unknown. Certain things are
known to aggravate rosacea in some individuals. These include consumption of
hot liquids, spicy foods or alcohol, being exposed to extremes of heat and
cold, exposure to sunlight, and stress.
A steatoma (stee-ah-TOH-mah), or sebaceous cyst,
is a subcutaneous tumor of the sebaceous glands, ranging in size from a pea
to an orange, the contents consisting of sebum. It usually occurs on the
scalp, neck, and back. A steatoma is sometimes called a wen
Asteatosis (as-tee-ah-TOH-sis) is a condition of dry,
scaly skin, characterized by absolute or partial deficiency of sebum,
usually due to aging or bodily disorders. In local conditions, it may be
caused by alkalies, such as those found in soaps and washing powders.
A furuncle (fu-RUN-kel), also called a boil, is caused by bacteria
that enter the skin through the hair follicles. It is a subcutaneous abscess
that fills with pus. A boil can be painful and should be treated by a