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Acne can be a person’s worst nightmare. For some, the battle with acne starts early on in life. Pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads start sprouting on the face when a person reaches puberty. While some outgrow this stage, others do not. There are also those who experience this later on in life - hello, adult acne!
Having acne can cause poor life quality. A lot of acne sufferers often have very low self-esteem, as the condition is, frankly speaking, unsightly.
If you have been searching for ways to get rid of acne, you are reading the right article! Here, we dissect causes that lead to acne and provide solutions that may help in bidding those irritating pimples adieu.
What is acne?
Acne is a condition wherein the skin’s pores get infected resulting in inflammation.
How does acne look like?
Acne can be composed of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples that may either be cystic or pus-filled.
What are the causes of acne?
In general, either hormones or poor hygiene can cause acne.
Hormonal acne. This type of acne is caused by an imbalance in the hormones. This mostly affects women, especially during their menstrual cycle or menopause. For the young ones, hormonal instability usually happens during puberty. Hormones can affect the production of excess oil or sebum, which can cause acne when the pores get clogged.
Poor hygiene. Acne can also develop when a person has poor facial cleansing habits. Dirt and bacteria together with the skin’s oil can cause skin irritation and inflammation resulting to acne.
Other reasons for acne are attributed to diet, citing dairy and sugar as triggers, and likewise, a medical condition called PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
What parts of the body can develop acne?
Acne can develop on the face, back, chest, or shoulders.
Are there different types of acne?
Yes, acne has different types. They can be categorized into two: inflammatory acne and non-inflammatory acne.
|INFLAMMATORY ACNE||NON-INFLAMMATORY ACNE|
What are treatments available to get rid of acne?
Acne can be treated using topical ointments or creams, oral medications, chemical peels, lasers, and steroid injections.
Topical ointments or creams recommended for acne are:
- Benzoyl peroxide – This is a topical treatment that works by direct application to the infected areas. Benzoyl peroxide attacks and kills the bacteria that cause the infection and inflammation on the skin. Flare-ups are improved as the area is rid of bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide is a strong solution and may at times cause skin irritation.
- Clindamycin – A topical antibiotic, clindamycin works by eliminating the bacteria that cause acne from multiplying. It is best applied to mild pimples to severe acne. Side effects include dry skin, skin peeling, burning or itching. Doctors may prescribe another medication together with Clindamycin in order to get optimum results.
- Epiduo – A topical gel that is used to treat mild to moderate acne. The solution is a combination of two active ingredients: adapalene and benzoyl peroxide. It works by eliminating the dead skin, unclogging pores from excess sebum, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide simultaneously works to kill the bacteria as it serves as an antimicrobial component. This treatment is good for inflamed pimples, as well as blackheads and whiteheads. Possible side effects are dryness, burning and flaking of skin.
- Retinoic Acid – Topical retinoids may be in the form of creams or serums. Retinoic acid is extracted from vitamin A and helps in unclogging the pores. Topical retinoids are best used for closed comedones, blackheads, and blemishes that appear on the forehead or jawline. Retinoids can cause the skin to be dry, itchy, and feel prickly.
Oral medicines recommended for acne are:
- Doxycycline – This oral antibiotic is prescribed for patients suffering from moderate to severe acne and rosacea. It works by putting bacteria under control and helps in minimising its amount from increasing. Doxycycline also reduces swelling. This antibiotic is very strong and may cause side effects like diarrhoea, indigestion, and photosensitivity (skin is more prone to sensitivity to the sun).
- Isotretinoin – Commonly known as Roaccutane, this oral treatment is derived from vitamin A and works best in addressing severe and persistent acne. Isotretinoin helps in keeping the skin from producing excess oil and allows the skin to slough off dead cells that can cause clogged pores resulting in acne. This medication is extremely strong and a dermatologist must strictly monitor its administration. Side effects and risks include birth defects (this treatment is not recommended for pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant), dry and chapped lips, and photosensitivity.
Chemical peels work best for mild to moderate acne. The active ingredients in the chemical peels are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) such as salicylic acid. AHAs aid in minimising skin swelling while BHAs help in exfoliating the dead skin from the top layer of the skin. Chemical peels also improve skin tone as it promotes the regeneration of new skin cells as the epidermis is renewed after skin exfoliation. Side effects include sensitivity to the sun’s UV rays. Patients are always advised to wear sunscreen with a high SPF in order to protect the skin from damage as it heals.
Lasers use energy-charged light beams that penetrate through the skin and target the swelling, which eventually leads to containing a possible pimple outbreak. Despite several claims of improving the skin affected by acne, doctors say that there is insufficient data to back up the claim of laser treatments. Lasers are much more recommended to treat acne scars as compared to addressing acne.
Steroid injections are best used on a single skin inflammation that is isolated. Dermatologists use steroid injections to treat large and swelling cystic pimples. This treatment works by being injected directly onto the targeted spot. The solution then reduces the inflammation and dries the pimple. Steroid injections are generally safe, although some may leave discolouration and dents on the skin.
Will my acne cause scarring?
Acne scarring is inevitable for inflammatory acne. This is true, especially for cystic acne. Likewise, the skin may not be able to recover and be restored back to its original state when the acne is recurring. The best way to avoid acne scarring is to keep your hands off the face and stifle the urge to pop your pimples. Popping pimples can worsen the state of your acne and can cause deeper damage to the skin, leaving discoloured marks and indentations on the face.
How do I know which acne treatment is best for my skin condition?
The best way to determine which acne treatment is appropriate for your skin condition is to visit your dermatologist. In this way, your skin will undergo a proper evaluation and the right treatment can be prescribed to address your acne. Remember that most of the treatments (especially the oral medications) have very strong active ingredients that will need proper supervision by dermatologists when administered, as there are major risks and side effects involved. Do not attempt to self medicate as this can only worsen your current condition. Your skin is a very delicate organ; it is important to let skilled doctors take care of its health.