Acne and Treatment

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Acne vulgaris is an extremely common skin problem which affects around 85% of teenagers, especially males. It occurs mostly on the face, but also affects the back, chest and shoulders.

Acne tends to start developing during puberty when the production of sex hormones increases causing an over-production of oil in the sebaceous glands. For most people, acne decreases or disappears in their early twenties, although some do continue to suffer well into their thirties or forties.

It’s true that not all teenagers get acne. So why do some people get acne and other people don’t? Although it’s not fully understood why this is the case, family history is thought that the main reason. If one of your parents suffered with acne, then there is a high risk that you may too.

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Other causes are increased stress levels, bacteria in pores, blocked pores, certain medications and exposure to toxins. Developing acne as an adult is uncommon. However, women may get acne if they suffer with polycystic ovaries or they are going through the menopause.

The symptoms of acne can vary from mild to severe. Mild to moderate acne consists of whiteheads, blackheads, papules (red, tender bumps) and pustules (inflamed, pus filled spots).

More severe acne is characterized by nodules and cysts. Nodules are larger and more painful than papules and scarring is common. Cysts are similar to nodules, but are pus filled and often painful.

Another form of acne is acne rosacea which is similar to acne vulgaris, but is confined to the face and accompanied by bumps and pimples, although not blackheads.

Treatment for acne

There is a wide range of treatment options available for acne with the aim of preventing new spots forming, reducing those present and preventing scarring. The appropriate treatment depends on the severity of the acne.

Mild acne, which is limited to blackheads and whiteheads and has no skin inflammation, is treated with over-the-counter preparations that contain benozyl peroxide, an antibacterial agent found in products like Oxy and Clearasil Max. Other popular over-the-counter medication is sulfur, marketed as Novacet or Sulfacet. Sulfur has been used to treat acne for hundreds of years. Topical retinoids, a derivative of Vitamin A, are prescribed to help get rid of blackheads and whiteheads.

Moderate acne, where inflamed papules and pustules are present, is treated using topical medication. Topical antibiotics such as Clindamycin and Erythromycin are the most frequently prescribed topical treatments because they help to reduce infection.

Severe acne is usually treated with oral antibiotics such as tetracycline to prevent the growth of bacteria and to reduce inflammation. Some large cysts, unfortunately, do not respond to medication and may need to be drained and extracted. This procedure should never be done at home, but by a dermatologist under sterile conditions.

With severe acne scarring may occur and there are many treatment options available to get rid of acne scars such as laser resurfacing, subcision, chemical peels and dermabrasion.

There are, of course, many self-help techniques that can be used at home to help treat and prevent acne. It’s important to keep your skin clean by washing the affected areas at least twice a day with fragrance-free products. Make sure that you do not rub too hard since this can damage the skin. It’s also vital that you don’t pick pimples or spots since this can cause scarring.

Herbal remedies such as tea tree oil and licorice root extract contain natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which can help the skin. Also burdock has been used historically to treat skin conditions and there is some evidence to show that 2 to 4ml of burdock root tincture per day is beneficial.

Finally, eating a healthy diet is highly recommended. For many years there has been a belief that diet doesn’t cause acne and therefore can’t cure it. However, in a recent Australian study, researchers found a solid link between diet and acne. They believe that carbohydrates with a high glycemic index may influence the development and severity of acne. Eating foods of low glycemic index, such as whole grain breads and pasta, legumes and certain fruits and vegetables, seemed to improve acne. Interestingly, a typical teenage diet consists of sugary drinks and snacks, white bread and potatoes which are all foods with a high glycemic index.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an instant cure for acne and many acne treatments may take some time to work, anywhere between two to six months. The answer is to be patient and to follow treatment advice. I recommend that you check out the Acne No More System which is guaranteed to work in two months. If you acne still doesn’t improve, then it’s advisable to talk to your dermatologist or pharmacist.

Acne No More Guide