What is acne? Management and treatment of acne
Acne, for some people, is something that can be a lifelong battle, long after the teenage years have passed. If you are someone who suffers from acne, especially as an adult, rest assured that you are not alone. Did you know that acne affects more than 70 million people and 90% of all teenagers? It is one of the most common skin problems, which is an ongoing condition, characterized by periodic breakouts. There really is no “cure” for acne. The trick is to learn to “control” it. What is acne? There are three main types of acne, usually caused by the P. Acnes bacteria:
- Comedenal acne – low bacterial activity, mostly clogged pores, often seen as small bumps under the skin
- Papulopustular acne: more bacterial activity with pimples, often with white and red spots around the pimple area.
- Cystic acne: increased bacterial activity, with large bumps (like a marble under the skin) with or without whiteheads, and can be a systemic problem (meaning that treatment may be more than topical).
Technically speaking, this is what causes acne: Often, hormone-related acne occurs when there is an increase in the production of sebum or oil on the face (it can also affect the chest and back). The pore becomes clogged and the P. acnes bacteria begin to grow in the sebum. When the sebum escapes into the surrounding skin, inflammation occurs and this is how the pimple forms. When treating acne, there are three general goals:
- Prevention: Keeping pores open through exfoliation and retinoids helps skin function better. Homemade exfoliating products and retinoids promote skin renewal. Regular professional exfoliating treatments also help accelerate cell renewal in the upper layers of the skin.
- Minimize inflammation: Regular use of a low percentage of salicylic acid helps to liquefy sebum and can keep inflammation at bay.
- Scar Prevention – Keeping acne under control is important to help prevent scars and bites that remain long after acne clears.
- Tips for treating acne
- Keep skin clean with good hygiene. Wash your face twice a day, otherwise you can damage the skin and lead to additional sebum production, with a gentle face wash, especially if you are using other products such as salicylic acid or retinoids.
- Leave the pimple alone. Resist “pinching” or “popping” the pimples. This can actually increase the lifespan of the pimple, make it redder or larger, and / or increase the chance of scarring.
- The use of mineral makeup is strongly recommended over oil-based cosmetics. Many store makeup brands are petroleum-based, which is similar to putting caulk on your pores, clogging them over time.
- Don’t sleep in makeup!
- Foods high in iodine (salty foods) tend to promote breakouts. Eat a “good diet” with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Learn to manage your stress. Breakouts can definitely be related to stress (and hormones).
As mentioned above, there is no cure for acne. But there are effective treatments that can help you stay in control of your acne. Below are general suggestions on how to treat acne, however, keep in mind that treatment varies from case to case and getting a professional opinion on how to best manage your acne is recommended.
- Retinoids, homemade scrubs, and amino acids from fruit can be used as topical acne treatments.
- Glycolic acid tends to be a very popular product promoted for acne prone skin, but it can be one of the most irritating alpha hydroxy acids. Mandelic acid is not only less irritating but also has an antibacterial function to decrease P. Acnes bacteria.
- Stubborn cystic acne may need oral treatment such as antibiotics. Oral treatments are prescribed and must be performed under the supervision of a licensed physician.
Acne can be persistent, but once a person develops a plan of attack, acne can become very persistent. When acne is manageable, you will notice that it will weigh less on your mind, and thankfully it will appear less on your face.