Acne is the all-encompassing term that refers to blemishes, blackheads, whiteheads and lumps on the skin. While it’s mostly associated with teenagers it is not necessarily restricted to any one age group. People of any age can suffer from acne.
While it’s true that acne is not a life-threatening ailment, it can be uncomfortable and can leave nasty acne scars. There has been a lot of debate on the cause of acne. One of the most recently discussed causes is milk. That’s right, the same milk that is good for our bones, teeth and hair is now apparently causing acne.
Is There a Cure for Acne?
It’s very difficult to find a definitive answer to this question. There are many miracle creams and facial wipes that claim to be the answer on how to get rid of acne but many are simply soap. A cursory glance down cosmetics and personal health aisles at supermarkets will undoubtedly furnish you with many acne brands and acne treatments, all of which are aimed at the teenagers.
Most Acne treatments take time to work. Roughly six to eight weeks is the usual time for acne to clear, and cosmetics that claim to be an overnight cure are advertised to catch the attention of sufferers who don’t want to wait that long. Once acne has cleared up, it is important to continue with the treatment to prevent its return.
Probably the most effective cure for acne is to consult a dermatologist, although this may only be necessary with the most severe cases. You should bear in mind that just because one treatment has worked on your friends or family, it doesn’t mean it will work on you.
Teenagers and Acne
While it is true that almost anyone can suffer from acne, it is also true that nearly every teenager between the age of 12 and 18 suffers with acne. Nearly 40% need treatment from a physician.
As with many illnesses or ailments, early treatment is essential. Leaving it too late can cause severe acne scars that may last for many years of a person’s life.
It is important to know what type of acne you have. The following information gives you insight as to what may have actually triggered your acne. Once you know your acne trigger, you are a step closer to removing the acne activator and living acne free.
Adult Acne Sudden onset, or continuation of acne, during adulthood may be caused by hormone imbalances, stress, pollution or medications. Studies have shown a direct link between hormone imbalances and the onset of acne in women ages 30 to 40 years old.
Acne fulminans (too much testosterone acne) is an abrupt onset of acne which is seen in males. This type of acne causes acne on the chest and back, severe acne scarring, fluctuating fever, painful joints, loss of appetite or weight, and a high white blood cell count. This acne is caused by the use of testosterone legally or illegally to enhance muscle growth. Over the counter treatments for this type of acne are not effective.
Acne keloidalis nuchae. This form of acne occurs with people of African descent. It is characterized by firm papules and pustules at the nape of the neck.
Acne medicamentosa (drug induced acne). This is acne which is caused by medications. Common culprits include phenytoin (Dilantin), isoniazid, lithium, bromides, iodides, androgens and corticosteroids. Lithium worsens acne vulgaris and can cause acne in persons who have never experienced acne before.
Ways to Conquer Acne
The most effective methods to combat acne include a combination of prevention and better skincare.
Regular exercise can help fight acne by fighting off negative stress levels that can come from negative self-esteem and depression. Avoid wearing tight lycra and nylon exercise outfits. These types of fabrics tend to trap body moisture and heat, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Stick to loose clothing made of cotton or natural blends, and keep your sports gear and equipment clean.
- Safe Cosmetics
Avoid pore-clogging and skin irritations that can contribute to acne, try perfumes and cosmetics that are "hypo-allergenic" and comodogenic or “oil free”. Coal tar derivatives, carmine and heavy cream in blushes can cause reactions.
Shimmering facial colors can contain a flaky mineral called mica that can also cause skin irritations and clogged pores. Try a lip gloss with a matte finish for less pore-clogging. The more the shine, the more comedogenic content which causes pores to clog.
- Healthy Diet
What is best for your body is best for your skin. A good quality multivitamin will probably have the recommended vitamins and minerals that you need to help with acne prevention. Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day and making good, healthy dietary food choices including plenty of fruits and vegetables daily will help you maintain optimal health.
- Hormonal Treatment
Hormones (or a lack of them) during later years - especially for women - can play a role in acne flare-ups and prevention. Studies show that about 50 percent of women have acne, which is referred to as hormonal acne, during the week before their menstruation.
Treatment options include topical retinoids, oral antibiotics and Benzoyl Peroxide for teen years. Oral contraceptives or hormonal birth control pills and hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) may be helpful for women, combined with systemic or topical treatments, prescription or over-the-counter products and medications.
- Healthy Skin Regimen
Avoid harsh scrubbing or over-washing, because this can cause possible skin irritation and can contribute to an over production of oil to replace what's washed off, clogging pores in the process. Use products with gentle exfoliation ingredients and avoid products that contain alcohol.
Shaving is actually an excellent way of exfoliating or removing dead skin to help with the prevention and spreading of acne. Shaving can also help to get rid of whiteheads and blackheads. Do not shave areas that are sore or infected. Use a shaving cream for sensitive skin.
Use a sharp blade. Gentle swipes instead of heavy pressure are better and also go with the flow or "grain." A single-edged blade is better than a twin-blade razor. Electric razors may not shave as close to the skin, but they may be a better choice for the prevention of acne and other skin breakouts.
Stress includes external and internal stressors. External Stressors are those that compromise your skin's ability to heal, like oily make-up and too much sun. Internal stressors like anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, depression and a variety of other internalized emotions, can trigger chemical reactions inside your body that can result in acne flare-ups and other skin irritations.
To combat internal stressors and prevent acne problems, get plenty of rest and sleep. Try to maintain regular hours. Keep a check list of "Things that Calm You" handy for stressful times, like reading a book, resting, listening to music, taking a walk, going out for an ice cream cone, etc.
Source: Alan Cabito