Keeping it Clean: Acne
The bane of millions of people across the globe, acne is a very common skin condition which usually starts around puberty. It normally starts as blackheads and whiteheads then progress to red spots as well as pus ﬁlled spots. In some patients, the red spots can be very big and cystic in appearance. Although it is most common in teenagers, older patients can also be affected. In late onset acne, the condition tends to be more chronic and may require medical treatment.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused by excessive production of sebum on the skin. In some patients, the sebaceous glands are particularly sensitive to certain hormones. Excess oil along with dead skin cells lining the pores and follicles form blackheads and whiteheads. This then attracts the acne bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes to multiply and triggers the formation of inﬂ ammation and pus.
The treatment of acne is centred around trying to correct the excess oil production and the infection process.
Acne generally results in one of these effects:
Blackheads and whiteheads
Oil, dead skin cells and bacteria block pores and cause small bumps called blackheads or whiteheads. If a blocked pore stays open, it can look kind of black and is called a blackhead. If a blocked pore closes up, the top of the bump looks more white. So it’s called a whitehead. Blackheads and whiteheads are pretty easy to treat. You probably can use stuff you buy at the store. If these are the only kind of pimples you have, it’s not so bad.
Papules and pustules
Sometimes the pores get so irritated that their walls break. That causes bigger pimples that are called papules and pustules. Papules are hard when you touch them. A bunch of papules that are near each other can make your skin feel like sandpaper. Pustules are like papules except yellowish, liquid pus ﬁlls them sort of like a blister.
Nodules and cysts
When blocked pores get more irritated, they get even bigger. They go deeper into your skin, too. They can really hurt. Nodules are hard. Cysts have pus and are softer. If you have these, you might be embarrassed to see people. If you have nodules or cysts, you should see a skin doctor. The skin doctor can use many treatments so you aren’t stuck with these pimples.
How do we prevent acne?
Here are 10 simple steps you can take to reduce the chances of an acne breakout.
- Keep your face clean
Whether or not you have acne, it’s important to wash your face twice daily to remove impurities, dead skin cells, and extra oil from your skin’s surface. Washing more often than twice daily is not necessarily better; it may do more harm than good. Use warm, not hot, water and a mild facial cleanser. Using a harsh soap (like deodorant body soap) can hurt the already inﬂamed skin and cause more irritation. Avoid scrubbing your skin harshly with a washcloth, exfoliating glove, or loofah (a coarse-textured sponge). Gently wash it with your clean hands or a very soft cloth. Always rinse well, and then dry your face with a clean towel. (Toss the towel in the laundry hamper, as dirty towels spread bacteria.)
Many acne products contain ingredients that dry the skin, so always use a moisturizer that minimizes dryness and skin peeling. Look for “noncomedogenic” on the label, which means it should not cause acne. There are moisturizers made for oily, dry, or combination skin.
- Try an over-the-counter acne product
These acne products don’t need a prescription. They may have ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid, which curb bacteria and dry your skin. Start with a small amount at ﬁrst, then slowly adjust how much you use and how often, depending on how much peeling or drying you have.
- Use makeup sparingly
During a breakout, avoid wearing foundation, powder, or blush. If you do wear makeup, wash it off at the end of the day. If possible, choose oil-free cosmetics without added dyes and chemicals. Choose makeup that is labeled as “noncomedogenic,” meaning it should not cause acne. Read the ingredients list on the product label before buying.
- Watch what you put on your hair
Avoid using fragrances, oils, pomades, or gels on your hair. If they get on your face, they can block your skin’s pores and irritate your skin. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner. Oily hair can add to the oil on your face, so wash your hair often, especially if you’re breaking out. Got long hair? Keep it pulled away from your face.
- Keep your hands off your face
Avoid touching your face or propping your cheek or chin on your hands. Not only can you spread bacteria, you can also irritate the already inﬂ amed facial skin. Never pick or pop pimples with your ﬁ ngers, as it can lead to infection and scarring.
- Stay out of the sun
The sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase inﬂ ammation and redness. Some acne medications may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm, and wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a broad-brimmed hat. Whether you have pimples or not, always apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Look for “noncomedogenic” on the sunscreen label to make new pimples less likely. Read the ingredients on the product label to know what you’re putting on your skin.
- Feed your skin
Most experts agree that certain foods, like chocolate, don’t cause pimples. Still, it makes sense to avoid greasy food and junk food and add more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains to your diet.
- Exercise daily
Regular exercise is good for your whole body, including your skin. When you exercise, avoid wearing clothing or using exercise equipment that rubs your skin and may cause irritation. Shower or bathe right after exercise.
Some studies link stress with the severity of pimples or acne. Ask yourself what’s making you feel stressed. Then look for solutions. When in doubt, check with a dermatologist to see if you need more treatment to prevent or stop acne.
With so many products to choose from, it can be hard to decide which is best for you. Here are just of a few of the products that we’ve reviewed at 100comments.com:
Himalaya’s Purifying Neem Face Wash is a soap-free, herbal formulation that cleans impurities and helps clear pimples. A natural blend of Neem and Turmeric bring together their antibacterial and antifungal properties to prevent the recurrence of acne over time.
Hiruscar Post Acne is a 100% anti-bacterial, clear gel which has been specially formulated for fast, easy skin absorption. The unique 3-in-1 formulation works simultaneously to improve the appearance of existing acne scars, dark marks as well as prevent the formation of new permanent scars arising from acne.
With volcanic mud formula, deeply cleanses to remove impurities & 10 make-up residues that cause dullness, acne and enlarged pores without thinning the skin. 10x more Whitening. For extra dull skin with extra large pores. Regular use of makeup.Removes impurities and 10 makeup residues that cause dullness, acne, enlarged pores without thinning the skin. Gentle ingredients.Harsh makeup may contain acidic ingredients that cause the skin to become thinner, making it more prone to dullness, large pores. Nivea cleanses away makeup residue to reduce pore size and dark spots without thinning the skin.