Acne is a hugely frustrating skin condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Having these troublesome zits on your face gives you a nasty appearance. Those with acne often feel conscious about their body image as acne leaves weird looking scars on the skin when it heals, which are tough to deal with and take a long time to clear up. Most acne breakouts start off as clogged pores which turn into acne when they get inflamed possibly due to bacterial invasion. Acne mostly strikes people during teenage years and can crop up at any time during adulthood. The symptoms of acne may be mild or moderate, subject to the severity of the condition. Mild cases of acne appear as whiteheads, blackheads or pimples while acne that is painful and appears as cysts is considered a serious issue and requires urgent medical attention.
The root cause of acne is excess sebum released from sebaceous glands located within skin pores beside hair follicles. This excess sebum released from skin pores attracts germs, dirt and dead skin cells which tend to deposit within skin pores and clogs them. These clogged pores become infected and inflamed when they come in contact with bacteria and turn into acne. In extreme cases, pus is formed inside the acne bump which is a symptom of serious infection and needs to be dealt with on an urgent basis. We have explained some factors that contribute to acne.
1. Hormonal Imbalance
Changes in hormones in the body has an impact on sebum release. It makes the sebaceous glands overactive and results in secretion of excess sebum on skin surface. Hormonal changes that take place during puberty is the main reason for acne in teenagers. Women during their adult years and menopause undergo hormonal fluctuations which is the leading cause of acne in women.
2. Improper Hygiene
The grime collected on skin’s surface needs to be cleansed away on a regular basis to curb its chances of settling in skin pores. If this build up on the skin is not removed, it leads to clogging of skin pores which becomes a reason for acne flare ups.
Some cosmetics interfere with release of sebum in skin and are likely to cause your skin to break out. Oil based cosmetics have a greater chance of resulting in acne if they are used on oily skin. Some cosmetics that promise to give you an oil free complexion have ingredients that are too drying and lead to increased sebum production to curtail the dryness. This tendency is likely to cause acne breakouts.
Some medicines like antibiotics, steroids and anti-depressants interrupt the normal functioning of sebaceous glands and cause acne. Medications containing lithium, bromides or iodides are also known to cause acne flare ups in some people.
Staying surrounded by toxin and chemical laden air puts you at a greater risk of developing acne breakouts. These environmental toxins find their way into skin pores along with bacteria contained in the air to clog them and cause inflammation inside the clogged pore.
Sensitivity to certain foods may also be behind your acne flare ups. These foods trigger an allergic response within the body which shows up as acne. Foods with high glycemic index cause hormonal disruptions which leads to acne.
TREATMENTS OF ACNE
Acne can be managed by enlisting certain measures which include following regular skin care schedule, staying away from potential triggers like pollution and acne-causing foods, fixing hormonal imbalances and using non-comedogenic skin care products. If medicines are causing acne, you can ask your doctor to put you on a different medication. Here are some treatment options that are adapted to treat acne.
1. Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide works as an antiseptic and reduces the size of acne by targeting the bacteria that causes it. It also gets rid of the redness and inflammation that accompanies acne. This agent is used topically to control the symptoms of acne and has to be used continually to get relief from acne lesions.
2. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is an oil soluble beta hydroxy acid. It expertly dissolves grime and bacteria in skin pores to unclog them. Topically applying salicylic acid based ointment or lotion reduces the inflammation on acne lesions. It has mild exfoliating qualities which help in softening and sloughing away dead skin around the lesion to clear acne.
3. Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid treatment is better suited for dry and sensitive skins. It helps in declogging pores and treats inflammation on acne without leaving your skin dry. It is an alpha hydroxy acid and helps in curtailing post-acne marks with its gentle exfoliating action.
In moderate forms of acne, you may be prescribed oral or topical antibiotics along with other topical medications to treat the infection. Tetracycline, doxycycline and erythromycin are some of the antibiotics used to treat acne.
Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A that increase skin’s cell turnover rate to get rid of milder forms of acne known as blackheads and whiteheads.
Isotretinoin is a retinoid used in treating severe forms of acne that fails to respond to other acne treatments. This drug is taken orally for several weeks to decrease the size of sebum releasing glands and is hailed as a permanent cure for severe acne.