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.
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 makes 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 of Acne
It is quite challenging to pinpoint the actual cause of acne. A lot of research has different fingers pointing in different directions. And some of the causes of acne 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 with something (for instance, irritation to some drying ingredients like alcohol, etc.)
Types Of Acne (Pimples)
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 black.
On the other hand, if the sebum and skin cells are sitting in skinned-covered pores, they are not oxidized, maintaining their whitish color.
They are visible on the surface of the skin and contain no pus
Also visible on the surface of the skin, inflamed, and contains pus
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
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 skin 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 Pimple
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 treat acne. Remember that your acne could be cysts, papules, blackheads, whiteheads, etc.
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)
Let’s start our topical treatment with something gentle and irritant-free. You can get 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 Salicylic Acid. The good news is that your aspirin contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid, unlike Alpha Hydroxyl Acid, is lipid soluble (can penetrate and exfoliate your pores).
Just get like four tablets, crush them and mix them with water or a little lemon to form a paste. Then apply it on your blemish. You can rinse it off after 15 minutes. Use it twice a day, and see the result within three days.
Benzoyl Peroxide is considered the most effective topical treatment for acne. They work by slowing down the oil-producing gland (the sebaceous gland) and also kill 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.
You can also try the combination of Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid for maximum results.
Niacinamide and Nicotinic Acid
They both contain Vitamin B3. When you combine any of them with Benzoyl Peroxide, you can get a great result.
Resorcinol is very effective for whiteheads and blackheads. Apart from combating acne, Resorcinol can also prevent psoriasis, eczema, and dandruff.
Tretinoin, a form of vitamin A, can transform cell production by unclogging pores and improving the shedding of 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.
Azelaic Acid is naturally found in barley, rye, and wheat. They can reduce the growth of P.acnes, stops oil eruptions, and strengthens the cells that line the follicles. Azelaic Acid is also very effective in treating skin discoloration and scars. It reduces inflammation that mops up free radicals.
You can use any of the available clay masks to absorb the excess oil on your face, neck, back, and shoulder area.
It helps to break down both whiteheads and blackheads. It has been used for ages for curing eczema, and psoriasis, and for treating acne. Sulfur oxidize to sulfurous acid, which is an antibacterial agent.
Oral Treatments for Acne
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.
Like birth control pills, oral antibiotics should be a last resort in treating your acne.
1. You might also kill beneficial bacteria with 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.
It is a strong oral retinoid. Like 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.
Treatments generally last for 16 weeks, and an eight weeks rest is needed should there be a need for a second treatment.
As effective as Isotretinoin is for the treatment of stubborn acne, it has a lot of side effects. In fact, doctors seldom prescribe it to people except in severe cases. And it doesn’t come cheap either. Below are some of the side effects of Isotretinoin.
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 breakouts, plus you risk scarring.
When it is humid and hot, we tend to sweat, and sweat can make your acne worse.
It can leave behind more oils on your back or face area, leading to more breakouts in those areas.
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
• Avoid oils on the affected areas. You can use serum or liquid products on the acne areas.
• Limit exposure to sunlight. Excessive exposure can lead to the secretion of more sebum and sweat production
• If you’re using an eyeglass, try to wipe them clean from time to time. Glasses collect skin residue and sebum.
• Try to wash your hands regularly
• Say NO to picking your pimples; do not pop your zit
• Don’t sleep with your makeup. Makeup is occlusive; it can block your pores, making matters worse
• Make sure you speak with your physician before using any oral treatment options