What is Acne and What to Do About It

When bacteria and oil clog pores on the skin, the result is acne vulgaris, more commonly referred to as, simply, acne. Characterized by skin eruptions such as pimples, whiteheads and blackheads, acne can also cause discolorations of the skin and painful cysts that are prone to leaving permanent scars if severe cases of acne are ignored or improperly treated. Often caused by hormonal changes, teenagers are highly susceptible to developing acne, which can appear on a person’s face, chest, neck, or back. Acne often clears up after a person’s teen years, but many adults are plagued with the condition well into adulthood and seek a variety of treatment methods in hopes of a cure.

Understanding how acne operates is one of the major keys, which unlocks the secrets of its cure. Teenagers are the most common group plagued by acne due to a change in hormonal or glandular activity experienced during puberty. As extreme amounts of oil, also known as sebum, collect on the skin’s surface while blocking pores and sebaceous glands, the reaction is one or more pimples that form on the skin’s surface.

However, other factors also contribute to the onset of acne, such as:

• Dietary deficiencies
• Constipation
• Stress
• Anemia
• Irregular menstrual cycles
• Allergies

While teenagers are affected by acne in disproportionate amounts, adult women also tend to experience mild to moderate cases of acne just prior to their monthly menstrual cycles in which hormonal changes are also to blame. Acne can also run in families, although this is more likely due to the consumption of certain dietary choices, such as oily, fatty foods and chocolate, which can each trigger acne symptoms.

Preventative measures are the most helpful in combating acne. By maintaining clean skin and avoiding oily skincare and hair care products that increase the amount of oil on the skin, clog pores, and cause acne, people who are prone to acne can avoid frequent eruptions. Washing skin two to three times each day with a mild cleanser and only applying products that are labeled noncomodogenic helps in keeping acne symptoms at bay. Everyone, but particularly those who are prone to acne outbreaks should thoroughly remove all makeup before going to bed at night, should drink plenty of water throughout the day, and should avoid carbonated and sugary drinks. Also, fried foods, foods high in saturated fats, fast food, processed foods, alcohol and cigarette smoke should be avoided, as each is known to contribute to the onset of acne symptoms.

As annoying as a case of acne can be, a person with this condition should never pick their pimples even when they are at painful stages. Picking at them can cause the skin to become infected and can cause permanent marks or scarring to occur. Instead, acne creams that are commonly sold over the counter containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can be applied to clean skin to assist in halting outbreaks and in reducing the amount of pimples that appear on the skin. Of course, different skin types respond differently to these products. Therefore, if irritation occurs or if symptoms persist, people with acne are advised to stop using that particular product and find another that is more suitable to their particular skin type.

In severe cases, it may be necessary for a dermatologist to assist in treating skin acne. A dermatologist may choose to drain pimples and cysts as a part of the overall treatment plan during a visit. Often, doctors will also prescribe antibiotic medications or prescription-strength topical solutions that can target problem acne and assist in the skin’s healing. People with severe acne should be advised, however, that many prescription medications commonly used to treat acne symptoms are also accompanied by serious side effects, such as birth defects and depression. As well, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid certain medications that can be harmful to a developing fetus or infant.

In severe cases that cause acne scarring, collagen injections and dermabrasion techniques have been known to somewhat cause the skin to look and feel smoother. Other treatment methods also include the use of laser resurfacing, which involves a burning away of unsightly scar tissue or chemabrasion, which removes scar tissue by using a chemical that peels away the top, scarred layers of skin.

High protein diets, diets that are high in zinc and diets supporting high amounts of chromium are also helpful in rebuilding the skin’s surface at the cellular level to help minimize the appearance of acne scarring. Some have even reported positive results by using honey as a moisturizing agent to help scarred skin recover.

Other natural treatments for acne are also known to help people find relief from its symptoms without the risk of possible harmful side effects. A few of those suggested remedies include:

• Applying Aloe Vera gel to acne prone areas
• Masks made of plain yogurt
• Masks made from grated cucumber
• Masks made from oatmeal and milk

In any of the above natural acne treatments, a mask can be applied to clean skin and allowed to permeate the skin for at least 30 minutes per treatment, followed by a thorough rinsing with cold water.

Also, people who are prone to acne should try supplementing their diets with vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamins B and B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, acidophilus culture and Niacin, all which can help in rebalancing a person’s body so that oily conditions that cause acne are better balanced and skin can resist acne outbreaks.

People who suffer from acne symptoms, including scarring, often feel embarrassed because of their skin’s appearance. Although no one enjoys experiencing an acne outbreak, it should be noted that almost everyone suffers from acne at least once in his or her lifetime. Further, acne is a treatable skin condition and one that can be controlled largely by making key changes in one’s lifestyle. While acne is not likely to disappear overnight, with diligence, proper cleansing, and maintenance, acne can be overcome. Not every treatment method works the same on every person’s skin type. Therefore, it may be necessary to try several different acne treatments before one is discovered to be just the right one to treat their particular acne symptoms.

BOLA TANGKAS