Acne is one of the most embarrassing and prevalent skin conditions in the world. Studies estimate that between 40-50 million Americans suffer from acne, with about 85% of those cases occurring during puberty. Acne can be both physically and psychologically devastating to sufferers who may feel self-conscious or anxious about their appearance. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available for acne, including topical medications and procedures such as laser therapy and chemical peels.
What is acne and how does it form?
Acne is a skin condition caused by a combination of clogged hair follicles and overactive sebaceous or oil glands. Oil flows through the hair follicle until it comes into contact with air. Acne forms when this channel becomes blocked. This prevents the oil from exiting the pore, allowing bacteria to enter and multiply. The hard structure of the blocking plug is called a comedo, while blackheads are caused by exposure to oxygen. If this continues for an extended period of time, it can cause severe infection and scarring.
What triggers acne?
According to researchers in skincare and esthetician school institutions, hormones that stimulate oil production – such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone – lead to acne. These hormones are active during puberty, which is why it’s common for those suffering from acne to have broken out before their teenage years.
How can I treat acne?
Though there isn’t a definitive cure for acne, there are several treatment options available to improve the condition. If you’re suffering from acne, it’s important to see your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis so that they can provide appropriate treatment options based on severity level and type of condition (e.g., cystic). Depending on the severity of your acne, these options may include prescription oral antibiotics, topical ointments and creams, chemical peels, or laser therapy. You can usually find combination treatments that include more than one method.
What can I do to prevent acne?
The best prevention for acne is a healthy lifestyle and diet, as well as early treatment of existing pimples. Here are some changes that you should start doing to prevent acne:
Eat a healthy diet
Avoid eating foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates, as well as large portions – this will promote a healthy digestive system and avoid unhealthy spikes in insulin levels.
Participating in regular physical activity increases the metabolic rate and stimulates blood flow to your skin. You can also help prevent acne by wearing protective clothing to minimize contact with sweat.
Get enough good sleep at night
Getting enough sleep allows the body to recover from the changes of puberty. It also helps in giving your body time to effectively heal inflamed or broken skin.
Avoid touching your face
Touching your skin transfers bacteria from the hands to the face, potentially leading to more acne breakouts.
Make sure you are using a gentle cleanser with exfoliants to remove dead skin cells. Avoid over-drying cleansers as these can irritate the skin, leading to more acne breakouts.
Use a toner
Toners help to remove excess oil from the surface of your skin and balance out its pH level. If you have oily or combination skin, you should use a toner twice a day.
It is important to keep your skin hydrated, especially for those with dry or sensitive skin types. This will make it more difficult for bacteria and irritants like sweat and dirt to cling to the surface of your skin and worsen acne breakouts.
Are there any long-term side effects to treating acne?
While many people take medication for acne with no long-term effects, it is possible that prescription antibiotics and other drugs can lead to changes in the bacterial microbiome that lives within you. Many over-the-counter products contain chemicals that may irritate your skin. As a result, it’s important that you speak to a dermatologist about the best possible treatment plan for your individual condition.
How can I treat acne scars?
Acne scars are an unfortunate side effect of severe acne, especially cystic acne. These may be permanent if left untreated for a long period of time. There are several treatment options available that involve injections or laser therapy, depending on the severity and depth of the scars.
Does wearing makeup affect my acne condition?
Wearing makeup while you have acne can sometimes make the situation worse. Makeup does not help in treating acne, and may even irritate your skin further if it contains harsh chemicals or ingredients. It is important to apply makeup sparingly after applying medication for acne.
If you’re suffering from severe cases of acne, speak with a dermatologist about treatment options that are right for your condition. You should also consider how lifestyle factors like diet, exercise regime, sleep habits, and hygiene practices might be contributing to breakouts before making any changes. A professional opinion on what will work best for you is always recommended!