What is Acne?
Acne is a condition that affects over 95% of the people in the world (both male and female). It is normally prevalent in the ages 11 to around 50. It can affect people of all races.
It can appear on the neck, shoulders, chest, back, and most commonly on the face.(Read More)
How Acne Forms
Inside the oil gland lies some bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, simply called P.acnes. These bacteria find the perfect home for growth. Excessive oil and dead skin cells provide the kind of environment that make the P.acnes leave comfortably. When the excessive production of sebum is unable to find its way to the skin surface (thanks to the dead skin that has refused to shed), then the P.acnes acts on this, leading to blemishes (eruptions or marks on the surface of the skin).
Let’s Look At Some Causes
It is quite challenging to pinpoint the actual cause of acne. A lot of research have different fingers pointing to different directions. And some of the causes are
• Irregular or excessive shedding of dead skin cells both in the pores and on the surface of the skin.
• Hormonal activities (mainly the male hormones called the androgens)
• Build-up of P.acnes in the pores (your skin openings)
• Reactions to food, cosmetics products, medicines, etc.
• Irritation to something (for instance, irritation to some drying ingredients like alcohol, etc.)
Types Of Acne (Pimples)
• Blackheads: Bacteria is not involved in the formation of both the Whitehead and the Blackhead. When skin cells and sebum sit in a pore that is not covered by the skin, they become exposed to air, which oxidized them and turns them to black.
• Whiteheads: On the other hand, if the sebum and skin cells are sitting in skinned-covered pores, they are not oxidized, maintaining their whitish color.
• Papules: They are visible on the surface of the skin and contains no pus
• Pustules: Also visible on the surface of the skin, inflamed, and contains pus
• Cysts: Clearly noticeable on the face of the skin. They are filled with pus and extremely painful. They tend to leave scars when you pop them
• Nobules: They are solid, large pimples that are visible on the skin’s surface. They are embedded in the skin and can be extremely painful.
Some False Claims About Acne
• You can spot-treat blemishes
• People with dirty skins are the ones likely to have pimples
• Alcohols, eucalyptus, and other skin irritants can treat your acne
• You can dry up a blemish
How To Get Rid Of Acne
Now we know how this frustrating acne surface on our skin. I think it’s time we look at some ways you can break free from acne. Are you ready? Then let’s delve right into it.
We’ll be considering the topical (the outward solution) and the oral solutions to treating acne. Remember that your acne could be cysts, papules, blackheads, whiteheads, etc.
An effective acne treatment can do any of the following:
• Eliminate skin cell buildup in the pores and on the surface of the skin
• Reduce the production of the oil (sebum)
• Kill the P.acnes (the bacteria causing the inflammation)
• Gentle Cleanser: Let’s start our topical treatment with something gentle and irritant free. You can get a cotton wool, dip it into your cleanser, and rub the surface of your blemish…gently and slowly.
As I said, make sure your cleanser is free from alcohol, peppermint, eucalyptus, and other irritants.
• Exfoliate With Beta Hydroxyl Acid (BHA): Yes. This one works for me every time I have a breakout. And the only form of BHA is the Salicylic Acid. The good news is that your aspirin contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid, unlike the Alpha Hydroxyl Acid, is lipid soluble (can penetrate and exfoliate your pores).
• Benzoyl Peroxide: Benzoyl Peroxide is considered the most effective topical treatment for acnes. They work by slowing down the oil producing gland (the sebaceous gland) and also kills the P.acnes bacteria. You need between 2.5% to 10% concentration in the product, but less than 10% is advisable if you’re using it for the first time.
• Resorcinol: Resorcinol are very effective for whiteheads and blackheads. Apart from combating acnes, Resorcinol can also prevent psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff.
• Tretinoin: Tretinoin, a form of vitamin A, can transform cell production by unclogging pores and improving the shedding of the old, dull skin, thereby producing a great reduction in inflammation lesions. Unlike Benzoyl Peroxide, Tretinoin and other forms of vitamin A cannot kill the P.anes bacteria.
• Clay Masks: You can use any of the available clay masks to absorb the excess oil on your face, neck, back, and shoulder area.
• Sulfur: It helps to break down both whiteheads and blackheads. It has been used for ages for curing eczema, psoriasis, and for treating acne. Sulfur oxidize to sulfurous acid, which is an antibacterial agent.
I suggest you try the topical treatment before switching to the oral treatment, except prescribed by your doctor.
So, below are some oral treatments for your acne:
• Birth-Control Pills & Hormone Blockers: They can both help to control your oil production. Since excess oil from the sebaceous gland is considered a primary cause of acne, these pills might just help.
1. You might also kill beneficial bacteria with the P.acne, which may lead to stomach upset and other complications.
2. Bacteria can develop resistance to the regular use of antibiotics, which may render the antibiotics ineffective for the treatment of other problems caused by bacteria should they arise.
Erythromycin, Tetracycline, and other antibiotics can help you to combat acne.
To further achieve an efficient result, you can combine your oral antibiotics with the topical application of Benzoyl Acid.
• Isotretinoin: It is a strong oral retinoid. Like the oral medication and the birth control pill, Isotretinoin should be the very last resort. Isotretinoin prevents sebum from clogging the hair follicle, mixing with the dead skin cells, rupturing the follicle wall, and creating cysts or pimples.
Side Effects Of Isotretinoin
• Severe birth defects. At least 90% of pregnant women on isotretinoin experience birth defects
• Hair loss
• Mild nosebleed
• Dry Skin
• Increased sensitivity to the sun
• Fragile skin, rash, and itching
• Pains and aches
• Dryness of lips
• Peeling hands and palms, etc.
How To Handle The Side Effects Of Isotretinoin
• Drink a lot of water
• When you experience body pain and headache, use ibuprofen
• Try to stay out of the sun or use a well-formulated sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Other Treatments Of Acne
• Photodynamic Therapy
• Laser Treatments
• Chemical Peels (AHA and BHA)
What Can Make Your Acne Worse
• Squeezing the Pimples: Oh! You don’t want to do that. I understand the urge to press the hell out of that pimple, to prick that cyst on your face. But stop! Don’t just do it. The moment you pick your pimple, the more you’re likely to get more breakout, plus you risk scarring.
• Sweat: When it is humid and hot, we tend to sweat, and sweat can make your acne worse.
• Greasy hair: It can leave behind more oils on your back or face area, leading to more breakout in those areas.
• Oil Based Makeups: Lubricating lotions, moisturizing creams, and makeups can further block your pores, making the P.acnes thrive more, thereby producing breakouts.
• Stress and Anxiety: Mental stress could take its toll on some hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can make your acne worse.
Some Tips To Help You Handle Your Acne
• Try as much as possible to avoid oils on the affected areas. You can use serum or liquid products on the acne areas
• Try to avoid exposure to sunlight that can lead to the secretion of more sebum and sweat production
• If you’re using an eye glass, try to wipe it clean from time to time. Glasses collects skin residue and sebum
• Try to wash your hands regularly
• Say NO to picking of your pimples; do not pop your zit
• Avoid sleeping with your makeup. Makeup are occlusive; they can block your pores, making matters worse
• Try to speak with your physician before using any oral treatment options