Acne Vulgaris or simply Acne is a peculiar facial problem experienced by teenagers of all ages and size irrespective of their sex or race. It usually an indicator that puberty is on the horizon for teenagers. Hair follicles on the chest, face and other parts of the body are heavily linked with Acne. When it comes to the cause, Bacteria is erroneously accredited as the cause of Acne. However, it will interest you to know that although bacteria might increase Acne in the body, it is never the cause of it. Most occurrence of Acne is observed in teenage years although it is often to see some women in their mid to late 20s develop it.
When it appears on the skin, it usually does in the form of occluded pores (or comedones as some would call it) which are often identified as blackheads and Whiteheads. Other forms of acne exist including tender red bumps such as zits or pimples, and also in the form of pustules which are simply bumps with pus in them. Cysts are harsher forms of acne and they are usually deep pimples or boils. A prolonged detailed skin treatment is often required to eradicate cysts while a little alteration in the personal skin care methods and routine is all that is needed to treat lesser forms.
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What causes acne?
The stimulation of oil glands affixed to hair follicles during the years leading up to puberty or in later years is one of the major causes of acne. Changes in hormones in individual bodies can also lead to the formation of acne. The natural substance which gives the skin coverage, lubrication and protection is Sebum (oil). However, when there is an increase in the production of oil, the growth of the cells occurs at a different rate, leading to the opening of the pores on the skin. When the oil along with the cells and pores come into contact, a plug is formed at the hair follicle. This plug can appear in 2 forms; a white head or a black head. A whitehead is formed when a plug slightly exposed to air or when a plug is only covered by a small layer of skin. A blackhead, on the other hand, is formed when the darker part of the plug is exposed. This can lead to the formation of a bump, if there is an enlargement of the plugged hair follicle. A continuous enlargement of the follicle, may weaken its wall and also rupture, leading to the outflow of substances deep into the skin. These irritating substances, in exposure to bacteria near the surface of the skin, leads to more inflammation which becomes a Pustule. Depending on the depth of the inflammation, a pimple or a cyst can form.
Dirt and food are two factors that are pointed in the formation of acne as well as the aggravation of acne, but however, both play no significant part in the skin disease. Mind you, limiting the intake of sweet food and oily food may reduce the chances of acne, but there are little or no studies available to support this claim.
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Blackheads are misjudged to be caused by the accumulation of dirt in the skin, but they are really just oxidized oil. When it comes to the formation of acne, sweat and dirt have no significant role to play. Stress is another factor that is misjudged when it comes to the production of acne. Although stress may lead to hormonal imbalance, it’s rarely the cause of Acne. However, a long exposure to stress may result in a sharp change to the overall body system which may aid in the production of acne, but that occurs rarely.
Heredity, cosmetics, drugs, and pressure are other known factors that contribute to the production of Acne. Heredity as a contributing factor means acne is transferred from either parents or both. If that is the case, the skin problem becomes more difficult to control. Also, exposing the body to different drugs can cause negative reactions of which acne may be part of such reactions. With that in mind, this makes drugs a key contributor to acne formation.
The nature of one’s job can also cause acne. Exposing the body to different oils and levels of radiation can result to the skin problem. As a preventive measure, if a job involves such exposures of the skin, the use of mask ought to be recommended and encouraged.
Cosmetics form a vital part of our daily routine. Recent times have seen more people interact with cosmetics more than ever. However, the type of product used plays an important role. Depending on the product used, the skin might react negatively to it and thus lead to the production of pimples and acne.
What other skin conditions can mimic acne symptoms and signs?
In terms of signs and symptoms, there are a series of skin problems/conditions that share similar traits as acne;
- Rosacea: This is unlike the normal acne. Rosacea is quite different as it occurs mainly amongst light-skinned persons usually aged 30 to 50 years. Rosacea rarely has whiteheads or blackheads accompanying its formation.
- Pseudofolliculitis: Also called razor rash or bumps, Pseudofolliculitis occurs when blades cut to close to the skin resulting in bumps. The individual is often advised to stop shaving as a means of controlling it.
- Folliculitis: This condition is marked by the occurrence of pimples in various parts of the body like the hands, chest, or buttocks, however, there is a difference between acne and folliculitis. The difference is that folliculitis is inflamed follicles which antibiotics can easily treat.
- Gram-negative folliculitis: There are patients who become resistant to antibiotics over time due to continuous usage, this resistance results in the development of bacteria-filled pustules. Carrying out a bacterial culture test will identify these germs and with results, doctors can prescribe a different method of treatment or antibiotics.
When should someone start acne treatment?
Acne is a skin problem that most persons in the world face today. With that being said, the need to treat the problem is always very high, pushing some individuals into seeking immediate treatment plans. It is important to note that, the start time of the treatment of acne depends on the skin of the individual as well as the type of acne. Early stages of the skin problem can easily be treated with various skin care products. However, aggravated stages of acne such as cysts require the immediate attention of a physician. It is strongly advised not to undergo any self-treatment or self-medication when it comes to aggravated cases of acne. This is because products used without the authorization of a physician can worsen the case completely. A seasoned physician will be able to recommend and prescribe the right medications to effectively control and eliminate acne.
How to get rid of acne?
Having a healthy lifestyle goes a long way in combating acne. The first step in ensuring an acne-free life is a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet containing the right nutrients as well as consuming healthy foods that do cause any harm to the body prevents skin problems like acne. Also, limiting the use of drugs and alcohol goes a long way in prohibiting negative reactions from the body and as such, the possibility of acne is reduced. It is highly recommended that pimples ought to be treated in the right manner instead of popping them so as to prevent permanent scars on the skin
Cleansing and skin care
The main stimulant of acne is inadequate skin care and little. It is therefore imperative to give adequate care to the skin by removing excess oils with the aid of cleansers.
- Mild cleansers:
Visible acne on the face and other body parts exposed to the environment are usually treated by cleansers. Cleansers are of different kinds and those that top the list prescribed by dermatologists include; Cetaphil, Dove, and Neutrogena. In the absence of such, a liquid face wash, as well as a mild soap bar, can serve the same purpose. If the cleanser causes an irritation on the skin, discontinue immediately.
- Exfoliation cleansers and masks:
The presence of salicylic acid in certain concentrations, along with hydroxyl and glycolic acids in Exfoliation cleansers, makes it very different from normal face cleansers. Exfoliation cleansers work by exposing the pores open and clean by removing the outermost layer of the skin. They are sometimes called mild peeling agents. The acids present in Exfoliation cleansers stop the forming of redness on peeling and also help remove any oil in the skin pores.
Retinol cleansers are effective in killing bacteria on the skin as well as removing dead skins. Retinol is derived from Vitamin A and it assists in removing dead skins.
- Mild cleansers:
- Antibacterial cleansers:
Benzoyl peroxide which is present in Antibacterial cleansers aids in killing bacteria and eradicating their breeding spots on the skin. There are cases of skin irritation and redness, caused by the continuous use of this type of cleansers due to the fact that the cleansers, is a form of bleach. Discontinuing the cleansers, immediately, helps to wear off the side effects.
- Topical (external) applications:
These cleansers are usually available either in cream or in gel form. That signifies that their application is external and not internal. Their main purpose is to eliminate the bacteria on the skin and not necessarily the bacteria that have penetrated deep into the body via pores.
- Reduce the oil:
Controlling the glands that produce oil can only be done via homeostasis, achieving this control externally is impossible. In addition to that, isotretinoin can also help inhibit the production of oil in the body. Combating with oil in the body is always challenging. There a number of ways to limit the accumulation of oil in the skin;A. Utilizing a toner is a safe and recommended option when it comes to removing oil from the skin. There are several brands in pharmacies at pocket-friendly prices.B. When it comes to peeling dead skin layers, hydroxyl acids and glycolic acid both play a vital role. The application of cleansers with an abundance of these acids as part of its ingredients can result in the exfoliation of oily skin layers.
C. Sulfur usually removes facial oil and as such, using masks rich in sulfur are often recommended
D. Using antibacterial pads to swipe across the skin also helps to absorb excess oil
- Antibacterial cleansers:
What are other things you can do for acne? Are there any home remedies for acne?
Cosmetics can only work as a cover up for a specific moment in time. It is ill-advised to use cosmetics for a long period of time.
Although Facials do not play a direct part in reducing acne, they can be very useful in removing whiteheads and blackheads because of their deep cleansing abilities.
When it comes to immediate remedies for mild types of acne, pore strips can be very effective. They function by pulling out oil stored up in the pores on the skin. They are cost friendly and are safe to use
The application of toothpaste on acne is a relatively old home remedy with effective results. A little amount of toothpaste on pimples truncates their size considerably.
What is a basic skin regimen?
Engaging in a well followed proper skin care routine with high-quality products is the first step to acquiring a preferable skin regimen. Amongst the vital steps to be implemented, cleansing the skin, most importantly the face, a minimum of twice a day with the appropriate cleanser is important. Utilizing a pad with 2% salicylic or a gel or cream with 2% benzoyl acid aids in the exfoliation process. Using a soft cream at night on the areas affected improves the time of healing. Also, applying a water-based skin moisturizer will keep the skin hydrated and fresh.
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How does a doctor treat acne? Is it possible to remove acne scars?
Consulting with a dermatologist or physician especially when an individual finds it difficult to control and treat their acne is highly advisable. The ultimate goal of any treatment procedure is to utterly remove any sign acne as well as prevent scarring. These methods of treatment include;
1. Topical (externally applied) antibiotics and antibacterial:
These antibiotics need to be administered orally via the mouth. They usually include clindamycin (Duac, BenzaClin), dapsone (Aczone), azelaic acid (Finacea or Azelex), erythromycin (PCE, Ilosone, E-Mycin, Pediazole, Ery-Tab, Eryc) and sulfacetamide (Klaron). The skin products derived from these antibiotics need to be applied to the skin consistently for a period of time.
Retin-A (tretinoin) as a treatment method for acne, has undergone significant changes over the years notably in the aspect of its mildness. Recent enhancements to the treatment method have reduced the irritation on the skin by the procedure, whilst still maintaining effective results.
Tazarotene (Tazorac) and Adapalene (Differin) are some of the newer retinoids. They are effective in unclogging pores. A moderate increase in the skin sensitivity to the sun as well as irritation are some of the side effects experienced. Applying Epiduo gel containing, adapalene, retinoid, benzoyl peroxide and antibacterial once a day, can produce great results.
3. Oral antibiotics:
In treating acne, oral antibiotics are very popular treatment methods utilized by doctors. Tetracycline, minocycline along with doxycycline (Vibramycin and Atridox) are some of the famously prescribed antibiotics. Cefadroxil, Amoxicillin and other high sulfur containing drugs are other oral treatment. There are side effects experienced when using these drugs and some may be harmful to the health of the individual.
Allergic reactions are sometimes experienced when using sulfur containing drugs. Other problems associated with the use of these drugs include; increased tendency to sunburn, high sun sensitivity, difficulty in swallowing and esophagus discomfort.
The effects stated above are short side effects of the drugs. A longer-term side effect may be in the form of weakened immunity leading to the individual falling ill repeatedly within a short space of time. The antibiotics may also increase bacterial resistance preventing other drugs from being effective.
Oral contraceptives are often the same pills prescribed acne treatment by physicians. The pills are effective and the presence of estrogen ensures they are safe for consumption. Yaz, Estrostep and Ortho Tri-Cyclen are some of the FDA approved drugs for treating acne.
Another drug that is commonly prescribed to young women for acne is Aldactone which blocks the androgen hormone receptor. This leads to the tenderness of the breasts, irregular menstrual flow, and depleted mineral levels.
4. Cortisone injections:
In more severe cases of acne, immediately after oral treatment, cortisone injections are used to flatten the cysts and pimples.
A severe case of acne usually requires the use of isotretinoin. It is also used if the body fails to respond to other treatment methods described earlier. Because of its potency and the drug has to be taken with care and precision. The drug has lots of side effects hence why only a small prescribed dosage has to be taken. It can lead to dryness of the lips and also muscle problems. Patients with mild acne are not advised to use this drug. Doctors resort to it as a last option after discussing the possible side effects with the patient. Small dosages are recommended for patients with cysts. The effects of isotretinoin can go on for some time even after the drug leaves the body. After a break of 3 months, patients can use isotretinoin again if the acne develops in an extreme form. Pregnant women are prohibited from taking isotretinoin so as to avoid catastrophic results such as stunted growth and other physical deformation.
Other concerns regarding the drug include mental illness. Vast studies have been carried out on the effects of isotretinoin on the mental health of teenagers and the results obtained showed that the drug can lead to mental issues such as anxiety and depression. Consistent mood swings, as well as a sharp change in habits, are also reported. Because of the side effects of the drug, patients suffering from depression are given in drug in minute dosage so as not to worsen the condition. Because of the numerous side effects and long-term results of isotretinoin, the use of the drug is still undergoing numerous researches. The usage of the drug comes as a last resort if other drugs fail and the acne is severe. Even at that, the dosage is monitored with precision.
6. Light treatments
The use of special lights in addition to photosensitizing dyes in the treatment of acne has met great success in recent times. These treatments although safe, are effective although the duration of their success is short. In comparison, laser treatment is commonly utilized in comparison to light treatments because of its durable results.
7. Chemical peels:
Chemical peels are often performed by estheticians when it involves superficial peels or by doctors when deeper ones need to be performed. The result of chemical peels is often beneficial but cannot substitute the benefits of a long-term treatment.
8. Treatment of acne scars
Various solutions are available for individuals with scars as a result of acne. Some of the options available to such patients include; laser resurfacing removes shallow scars caused by acne and also surgical procedures to raise deep scars. In terms of laser resurfacing, new and improved methods such as fractional resurfacing are now available. Although these new methods may be repeated at least thrice, they ensure faster healing in comparison to old procedures. These treatment methods actually help but they cannot completely eliminate scars caused by acne.
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How would you summarize current-day acne treatment?
The treatment of acne isn’t an instantaneous process. The treatment itself requires perseverance as it may take up to three months to get the desired results. All treatment procedures listed requires patience, that includes isotretinoin as well. Except they are cases of side effects such as allergic reactions in the treatment methods, it is important to allow enough time for each drug or regimen to work before moving on to other treatment procedures. Modern day methods available means doctors and physicians can easily treat acne.