Acne: What is it?
Acne is a skin issue that occurs when your pores get blocked by the dead skin cells and oil. With mild acne, you may experience appearance of a few pimples and red spots. Severe acne may cause several pimples on the face, back, chest, neck. These pimples may become solid and bigger red lumps causing pain and even scars.
Mild acne can usually be managed with over-the-counter medicines. But a severe acne needs prescription medicines to help clear the skin and prevent scars.
Causes of Acne
There are several different kinds of acne. The one that develops during adolescence during the puberty is the commonest among all.
During the phase of puberty, your hormone levels, especially of testosterone, tend to rise. This change in hormonal levels causes skin glands to release more sebum (oil) from the pores for protecting the skin and keeping it moist. Acne starts if the oil gets mixed with the dead skin cells and blocks the pores of the skin. Germs start growing in the mixture. And, in case this mixture gets leaked into the surrounding tissues, they begin causing pus, redness and swelling. These swelled bumps are commonly known as pimples.
Some medications, like lithium or corticosteroids may develop acne. Consult your doctor about the medications you have been taking. Talk to your doctor about any medicines you are taking.
It is not just adolescents who get affected by the acne onslaught. At times, even newborns may become vulnerable to acne. This happens when the expecting mother passes hormones to the developing fetus before birth. Acne may also develop as the stress of birth may exert the baby’s body to discharge hormones involuntarily. Older adults and young children may also develop acne because of hormonal imbalance.
How to prevent Acne?
Though acne is unpreventable yet there are a number of steps with which you can prevent acne from worsening.
- Cleanse your skin with gentle washes each day. Avoid scrubbing too hard or washing too often.
- Shun profuse sweating in case you believe that heavy sweating may worsen your acne. Cleansing your skin after each activity that causes sweating in you.
- In case your hairs are greasy and oily, properly cleanse them often. Try keeping your hairs off the face.
- Keep at bay all the hair products, like pomades, cream rinses, mousses and gels that are enriched with oil.
- Do not touch your face, especially the areas around pimples.
- Wearing cotton or moleskin clothing (soft) is advised, especially under sports accessories. At times, parts of these accessories, like chin straps, may get rubbed with the skin while performing sports activities and worsen the condition of your acne.
- Keep away from oils and harsh chemicals, like petroleum.
- Cover your skin from sun exposure.
The risk factors of developing Acne
Acne has the tendency of running in families. You will be prone to developing severe acne, in case any of your parents have had severe acne during his or her adolescence.
Teenagers and young adults run a high risk of developing acne. During their age, their hormone levels, like that of testosterone, increase immensely. The females in their menstruating age are more prone to developing acne. In many females, acne flares up prior to getting their periods.
Acne may worsen or turn irritable by:
- Wearing tight-fitted outfits or straps may rub against your skin (like a football player dressing up with shoulder pads). Besides, equipment used for any purpose may rub against your body (for example, a violin seized between your shoulder and cheek) and worsen your acne condition. Apart from this, bra straps, helmets, headbands and sweaters having turtle neck may also rub against your skin and worsen the acne.
- Use of hair and skin care cosmetic products that are irritating material.
- Cleansing and washing your face several times a day or scrubbing your face roughly. Using hot water and harsh soaps may also worsen the acne condition.
- Face touching frequently.
- A lot of sweating.
- Keeping hair hanging over your face, which may make the skin oily.
- Taking some medications, like lithium, barbiturates or cortisosteroids.
- Handling and working with harsh chemicals or oils regularly.
Body builders and athletes using anabolic steroids run an increased risk of developing acne.
What are the treatment options for Acne?
The Acne treatment will depend on whether you are experiencing severe, moderate or mild kind of acne. At times, your doctor may merge different treatments to obtain the best possible results and for avoiding development of drug-resistant microbes. The treatment may include gels or lotions you are required to apply on blemishes or the entire skin area, like your back or face or chest. Besides these topical medicines, you may be asked to take medications orally.
Mild acne (pimples, blackheads or whiteheads) Treatment may consist of:
- Cleanse gently with a mild soap like Cetaphil or Dove, and lukewarm water.
- Cover acne spots with benzoyl Peroxide, like Tiaz or Brevoxyl.
- Smearing salivylic acid, like Stridex or Propa pH.
In case the above curing methods fail, you are advised to consult your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe you stronger creams or lotions. You may even try antibiotic lotions. Or, you may opt for a medicine with a lotion that may open your pores.
At times, you require a combination of therapies and stronger medicines for treating Acne. Extensive blemishes, like cysts and nodules, are prone to leaving behind scars. Consequently, your treating doctor may prescribe antibiotics for swallowing as early as possible to begin the process of Acne healing. This form of acne may require a permutation of many therapies. The treatment for moderate or severe acne may comprise of:
- Your doctor may like draining cysts and large pimples
- Your doctor may also prescribe antibiotic lotions, creams or gels
- He or she may ask you to cover acne spots with benzoyl peroxide
- Your doctor may also prescribe covering your acne spots with retinoids and taking medicinal retinoids, like isotretinoin orally
- Your doctor may also suggest and prescribe azelaic acid for applying on and around acne area and taking antibiotics orally
Acne Scars Treatment
There are several methods of removing Acne Scars, like Dermbabrasion and Laser Resurfacing. With the passage of time, certain scars shrink, weaken and fade away. For others, your doctor may refer you to a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist.
Points to ponder
Most of the Acne treatments are time consuming. It generally takes 6 – 8 weeks’ time for acne to show improvement after beginning of the treatment. Certain treatments, rather than curing, worsen the Acne before getting it better.
In case your acne is not showing improvement even after several attempts with other treatment processes, your doctor may suggest and prescribe taking retinoid, like isotretinoin orally. Medical practitioners usually suggest this medicine as a last remedy as it has certain serious side effects. Moreover, the medicine is exorbitantly expensive.
How to handle scars?
PDT (Photodynamic therapy) and other laser and light-based healing treatments are used for treating Acne. These may include:
- Infrared or Pulsed Dye Lasers
- Blue Light
- Red Light
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
At times, these treatment therapies are used with certain medications. With these lines of treatment people who face difficulties of treating Acne just with medicines may get benefited.
The treatments such as laser skin resurfacing, micro-dermabrasion and dermabrasion may also help. They also help in making the Acne scars less evident. For certain types of Acne scars, dermal fillers also do well.
Your doctor may suggest other kinds of therapies for acne treatment and their scars.
How to treat Acne at home?
Home treatment may help in reducing the risk of flaring up of Acne.
- Swab your face and the other affected areas softly once or twice a day.
- Avoid squeezing pimples as they may cause infections and worsen Acne leading to scars.
- For keeping your skin hydrated, use a moisturizer that declares “noncomedogenic” on its label.
- You may use non-prescribed medicated soaps, creams, lotions or gels for treating your acne. Careful reading of their labels will help in ensuring their use in a correct manner.
Look at the below mentioned non-prescribed medicinal details usually in use for treating Acne.
- Alpha Hydroxy and Salicylic acids dry up pimples and other blemishes. The acids help peeling off the uppermost skin layer. They are found in many sunscreens, eye creams, cleansers and moisturizers.
- Benzoyl Peroxide, like Triaz or Brevoxy, help in opening the pores.
- Tea Tree Oil is useful in killing bacteria. The oil is usually available in many cosmetic products, like creams, oils and gels.
Certain skin caring products, especially those having alpha hydroxyl acids, will turn your skin sensitivity to UV (ultraviolet) rays. You are advised to guard your skin from the sun rays and other sources of UV rays.
Worsening of Acne: How to prevent?
If you follow the correct manners of washing your face, you may reduce the chances of Acne worsening:
- Wash your face for one or two times in a day with gentle soap and lukewarm water. You may also acne wash available with pharmacists.
- Instead of scrubbing the face, use temperate and circling motions.
- After washing, rinse your totally and pat it dry gently. Do not rub your skin.
- If washing your face, if it seems dry, you may use a “noncomedogenic” moisturizer
Some other tips:
- Take a shown soon after indulging in any doing which results in heavy sweating, mainly sport activities.
- Fasten your hair and keep them away from face. Hanging hair on the face may cause an acne breakout. Washing them regularly helps.
- Avoid picking at and scrubbing your pimples. These may worsen the Acne and cause scars.
For mild acne
In case of mild acne having a small number of pimples, you don’t require any medical treatment. They get cleared on their own. However, you may use acne creams that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. They are useful if the instructions given in their labels are followed properly.
It may take time in controlling the acne onslaught. But in case the non-prescribed medications do not show you good results in three months, you are advised to consult your doctor. She or he will help you by prescribing a suitable skin cream or a gel.
Moderate or severe acne
Modern acne means having more pimples that are constantly breaking out. Severe acne means 100s of pimples covering your neck, back, chest, face and back and turning into bigger and painful solid red lumps and cysts.
In both the situations, consult your doctor. There are several treatments that may help in controlling the acne onslaught. Treating acne at the initial stage helps in preventing it from worsening and causing scars.