What is acne?
Medically it is known as Acne Vulgaris, It starts when greasy secretions from the skin's sebaceous glands (oil glands) plug the tiny openings for hair follicles (plugged pores). Human skin has pores (tiny holes) which connect to oil glands located under the skin. The glands are connected to the pores via follicles - small canals. These glands produce Sebum, an oily liquid. The sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. A small hair grows through the follicle out of the skin. Pimples grow when these follicles get blocked, resulting in an accumulation of oil under the skin.
If the openings of hair follicles are large, the clogs take the form of blackheads: small, flat spots with dark centers. If the openings stay small, the clogs take the form of whiteheads: small, flesh-colored bumps. Both types of plugged pores can develop into swollen, tender inflammations or pimples or deeper lumps or nodules. Nodules associated with severe cases of acne (cystic acne) are firm swellings below the skin's surface that become inflamed, tender, and sometimes infected.
How Can Acne Be Prevented?
To prevent acne and reduce its damage to your skin, follow these tips.
- Choose a cleanser specially formulated for acne. These products often contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which help to clear acne sores.
- Clean your face gently, as trauma to the acne breakouts may worsen the acne or cause scarring. When washing your face, use your hands, as any terrycloth or other scrubbing material may cause acne sores to rupture.
- If you need to use a moisturizer, use only light, noncomedogenic moisturizers, which do not aggravate acne. This type of product may be your best option.
- If you are a woman, use an oil-free foundation. Heavy makeup or other cosmetic products that block pores may cause a flare-up of acne.
According to experts, in USA, approximately 17 million Americans are estimated to have acne at any one time. Although acne affects both men and women, young men suffer from acne for longer - probably because testosterone, which is present in higher quantities in young men, can make acne worse.
Your treatment Plan
Acne treatments work by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection, reducing the inflammation or doing all four. With most prescription acne treatments, you may not see results for four to eight weeks, and your skin may get worse before it gets better.
Types of acne treatments include:
1)Over-the-counter topical treatments.
If you just have a few blackheads, whiteheads and spots, you should be able to treat them successfully with over-the-counter gels or creams. Acne lotions may dry up the oil, kill bacteria and promote sloughing of dead skin cells. Treatments can take up to three months to work, so don't expect overnight results.If your acne is more widespread, for example if you have a large number of papules and pustules, or if over-the-counter medication hasn’t worked, see your GP as you probably need prescription medication.
2)Topical treatments available by prescription.
If your acne doesn't respond to OTC treatments, consider seeing a doctor or dermatologist to get a stronger prescription lotion. Often, a combination of such products is required to achieve optimal results.
A combination of antibiotic tablets and topical treatments is usually the first treatment option for severe acne. If this doesn't work, a medication called isotretinoin may be prescribed.Hormonal therapies can also be effective in women who have acne.Many of these treatments can take two to three months before they start to work. It's important to be patient and persist with a recommended treatment even if there is no immediate effect.
In addition you can: Wash your face 2 times a day with a gentle soap. Dermatologists often recommend Dove or Lever 2000.
Change your washcloth every day (bacteria can grow on damp cloth). Wash as soon as possible after you exercise.
Wash your hands more frequently and avoid touching your face unnecessarily. Don't squeeze, pick, scratch, or rub your skin. Scars may form if you squeeze pimples. Don't rest your face on your hands while you read, study, or watch TV.
Shampoo your hair at least twice a week. Pull your hair away from your face when you sleep. Style it away from your face during the day.
Although researchers have not been able to show that any foods cause acne, some people have found that certain foods seem to worsen their acne. Keep a record of the foods you eat and try to see if any foods appear to make your acne worse. Try avoiding those foods.
Avoid working in hot kitchens where greasy foods are cooked.
Try not to get sunburned.
Avoid extreme stress if possible. Practice stress reduction strategies such as exercise, meditation, and counseling if stress is extreme.
Get physical exercise regularly.
Keep your follow-up appointments with your health care provider. Keep a record of the treatments you have tried and how they have worked. There are many alternatives for you and your provider to try, so don't give up!