acne

What is acne?

Acne is a common skin disease amongst young people. It mainly affects the face, neck, and chest. The condition results due to blocked pores on your skin. They can become inflamed or infected through the overproduction of oil by the sebaceous glands (oil glands). Acne is not severe. However, it can leave some scarring. Consult your doctor for effective acne treatment if stubborn pimples trouble you.

What causes acne?

The skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands make the oily substance called sebum. Dead skin cells and dirt can stick in the openings of these oil glands (pores). This combination clogs the pores. Moreover, when too much oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria get into plugged pores, pimples occur.

Pimples form when the walls of the plugged hair follicles break down. The clog turns into a whitehead, blackhead, or a pimple. Bacteria that live on normal skin can infect a broken follicle and cause acne.

What factors contribute to this disorder?

  • Heredity

Acne tends to run in families. Therefore, if your parents had pimples, you are more likely to have it too.

  • Hormonal changes

Some women may see an increase in acne right before their menstrual periods begin. It happens due to changing hormone levels. In addition, teenagers going through puberty may also develop this skin disease due to these same hormones.

  • Greasy or oily substances

Oily lotions or creams may make your acne worse.

  • Treatment products

Do not use an oil-based facial cleanser when you have acne. It may increase the amount of oil on your skin. Moreover, it may also hinder your acne treatment.

  • Cosmetics

Avoid putting oily, greasy, or colored cosmetics on your skin, especially around the eyes, mouth, and cheeks. Doing so can result in pimples.

  • Stress

Stress does not cause acne. However, it can make the condition even worse.

What are the types of acne?

  • Blackheads

Blackheads form when a clogged pore becomes completely blocked, trapping skin oil below the skin surface. These lesions are not caused by dirt. However, when sebum (natural oils) oxidizes inside the pore due to exposure to air, pimples occur. An increase in sebum production may be associated with hormonal changes related to puberty, pregnancy, medications, or thyroid disorders.

Blackheads are not dirt. Therefore, washing your face repeatedly cannot remove them. Instead of trying to remove them with your fingers or a washcloth, it is best to exfoliate gently with a face scrub and apply a lotion.

Early stages of blackhead formation may resemble small white bumps. If you think you are starting to develop blackheads, try applying an acne treatment lotion. However, talk to a dermatologist first.

  • Whiteheads

Whiteheads form when a pore is completely blocked, and the buildup of sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells causes a reaction, which results in inflammation and pus. Whiteheads, like blackheads, are not dirt. Therefore, washing your face repeatedly cannot vanish them away. A whitehead lesion looks like a shiny bump on the skin. Moreover, it may resemble a pimple or a solidified spot of dried toothpaste (the same color as your skin).

  • Cystic acne

A cystic acne is an advanced form of inflammatory acne characterized by painful, pus-filled lesions that are red at their base. It typically feels firm to the touch and can be large or small. In addition, cystic acne is the result of the most severe form of acne, involving inflammation deep within the skin’s pores.

  • Papules

Papules are small pink bumps that may be tender to the touch. They typically result from a mild pimple and often go away on their own with acne treatment.

  • Pustules

Pustules are tiny red bumps, which have white or yellow pus-filled centers. They look like tiny blisters under the skin. In addition, pustular acne appears when a severe case of inflammatory skin disease becomes severely infected and may require hospitalization for treatment.

  • Nodules

Nodulocystic acne is large red bumps, which have pus-filled centers, and long thick pus-filled roots underneath them, which can extend into the dermis. It is probably the most severe form of acne. Therefore, you should consult with a dermatologist if you have them. It may also require hospitalization for treatment.

What is the acne life cycle?

The life cycle of acne is complex and not yet fully understood. However, there are four distinct stages-

  • The first stage begins with the formation of a plug (which may appear white or yellowish) in an opening of a hair follicle that connects to the skin’s surface.
  • As the body tries to break down this plug, it begins to swell and produce a whitehead.
  • In the third stage, as the bacteria multiply, they irritate the skin and cause an immune response, which results in inflammation. An acne lesion forms. It may be either a papule (a red bump) or a pustule (white bump with pus at its tip).
  • The final stage of this condition involves possible scarring or changes in skin pigmentation.

What is the best acne treatment?

Acne is a common skin condition. It usually occurs due to the overgrowth of bacteria in the hair follicles. The two main treatments for acne are antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide.

Some people say natural remedies work well for treating acne. However, there has been only a small amount of research on this topic.

Antibiotics

All types of acne result due to blocked hair follicles. These glands produce a bacterium called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) feeds on sebum. It makes irritating substances, such as fatty acids and waste products that irritate the pores and cause swelling and inflammation.

Antibiotics help in your treatment in three different ways-

  • They are an effective treatment for inflammatory acne, which occurs when P. acne bacteria leak into the surrounding skin tissues and cause swelling, redness, and pain.
  • They fight bacteria that cause inflammation in existing pimples.
  • Topical antibiotics reduce the number of P. acnes on the skin surface. However, they do not affect the number of bacteria deep inside pores.

Benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a topical acne treatment with keratolytic and bactericidal properties. It can alleviate mild to moderate acne. In addition, topical benzoyl peroxide kills P. acnes by reacting to its proteins during the development of oxygen free radicals and benzoic acid. This product also has some antibacterial activity.

Benzoyl peroxide is available in concentrations ranging from 2.5 to 10% for pimple treatment. It is most effective when applied over the completely affected area, rather than just spot-treating individual spots. Benzoyl peroxide comes in different preparations such as creams, gels, lotions, solutions, face washes, and shampoos. Moreover, it is also available as a generic medicine and over-the-counter.

Benzoyl peroxide can cause side effects such as skin irritation and dryness. However, you can reduce these side effects by using a low concentration and applying it less often. If the medication causes excessive dryness, it may be useful to use a moisturizer in addition to this treatment.

Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives are effective for treating acne in women, particularly those who have signs of hyperandrogenism. Oral contraceptives containing EE 0.01-0.03 mg may improve acne by-

  • Suppressing sebum production
  • Decreasing the growth of skin cells that cause plugging of pores (comedogenic)
  • Fighting bacteria that worsen acne (propionibacterium acnes) and decrease inflammation

When are oral contraceptives used for acne treatment?

Oral contraceptives are generally indicated to treat acne in females who have signs of hyperandrogenism. They may include hirsutism (excess hair growth), seborrhea (scaly red skin), and a history of irregular menstrual cycles.

Retinoids

Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives. They are available in various formulations, such as cream, gel, lotion, and solution. Retinoids can treat acne by reducing oil production within the sebaceous gland and resolving comedones caused by hormones. In addition, some retinoid medications also work to eradicate Propionibacterium acnes, bacteria that are known for triggering inflamed acne. Acne patients who use retinoids can see immense improvements within 4 weeks. Moreover, they can notice a significant decrease in the frequency of blackheads and white pimples on their faces.

When does an acne treatment cream make your acne worse?

Most people with this skin disease are likely to have seen at least one advertisement for an acne cream that claims to be the best or most effective product on the market. Here, it can become difficult to know the best product for you. Unlike other body lotions and creams, acne products contain active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or retinol. They work by killing the bacteria that cause acne and help in unclogging pores.

However, these ingredients can be quite harsh on sensitive types of skin. It is the reason why consumers need to know what they are putting on their bodies. Moreover, some people may notice that their skin condition is becoming critical after using a cream. It is an indication that the cream is not right for the consumer’s skin type. However, this does not necessarily mean that all treatment creams are bad. Some products on the market work better than others do. Therefore, it is significant to do your research before purchasing a new product. You can also seek the opinion of a dermatologist or an online doctor.

How can you prevent acne?

  • Wash your face

Wash your face 2 or 3 times daily with an appropriate product for your skin type (oily, normal, and dry). How oily the skin is throughout the day may determine how often you need to wash your face. Moreover, if your skin is prone to such skin diseases, you should rinse it off more often than once daily to decrease the pore blockages. Doing so can help with your acne treatment.

  • Scrub your face

Scrubbing your face daily with anything abrasive can cause more irritation. Moreover, it can also damage your skin barrier function, leading to more acne. If you have blackheads, you could use a mild face scrub. However, you can gently steam the face for 10 minutes once or twice a week.

  • Do not touch the affected area

Do not touch your face from your hands.  The oils, dead skin cells, and other impurities found on our hands can cause blocked pores if they come in contact with our face. Moreover, use a soft cloth to remove make-up at nighttime. It may help you keep your hands away from your face. In addition, you will not have to touch your face directly when removing makeup.

  • Hydrate your skin

Moisten your skin by drinking lots of water daily. Moreover, use an appropriate moisturizing cream for your skin type (oily, normal, and dry). Knowing how oily or dry the skin is can help improve the overall health of your skin. When the skin barrier function experiences a lack of hydration, it leads to increased acne formation. However, regular and sufficient hydration can help with your acne treatment.

  • Exfoliate

Exfoliate 2-3 times a week with ph-balanced skincare products. They can help remove the dead skin cells on the surface of your skin, which can contribute to blocked pores. In addition, it may also enhance the absorption of other topical anti-aging and medications that you might be using.

  • Use natural makeup

If you wear makeup, keep it as natural as possible such as mineral powder rather than liquid foundation. It may decrease the amount of product, which can cause blocked pore conditions. Moreover, remove makeup properly before going to bed. It will prevent dirt and other impurities from accumulating on the surface of your skin throughout the day.

  • Ventilate your skin

Keep your skin well ventilated. It may support your acne treatment. Moreover, avoid humidity by staying inside air-conditioned rooms as much as possible, especially on hot and humid days. Wearing a cotton mask or hat outside may help keep the hair and scalp clean of acne-causing oils and dirt, which accumulate over time. In addition, a cotton mask is also good for sleeping. It ensures that the top layers of the skin are getting a chance to breathe and regenerate properly overnight.

  • Get over stress

Reduce stress as much as possible. It may improve blood circulation, which will help the body fight acne effectively. Moreover, use herbal teas such as green tea, chamomile tea, or licorice root tea to decrease cortisol levels. It ultimately helps normalize the production of oil on your skin.