What is acne?
Acne is a disorder of the skin and superficial tissues characterized by disfiguring swellings (red pimples) especially on the face. There are oily (sebaceous) glands at the origin of the hairs (hair follicles) responsible for oiling your skin. These glands have tube-like channels (ducts) that open onto the skin surface to lubricate it. During puberty the synthesis of the oily sebum is increased. A bacterial infection of the gland or inflammation can block the neck of the glands’ ducts causing accumulation of sebum. This leads reddish raised dome-like structures called comedones. These comedones can either open or remain closed and are the visible swellings on the skin called acne (pimples).
Who gets acne?
Acne usually develops at puberty such that almost everyone is affected during adolescence. If you are suffering from acne, it is good to know that you are not alone. Acne is hated world over and affects more 80 percent of the population in their teens. Even though most acne clear after adolescence, there is a small portion of the public in which it persists into middle age or even longer. It is not unusual to develop acne in adulthood even though you may not have had it during teenage.
The adult form of acne affects men and women equally but may appear at different times. In men acne is more common during puberty while in women it may occur in puberty and menopause. Indiscriminate use of cosmetics is a risk factor for acne in women as are periodic hormonal changes. Men on the other hand have more severe acne during puberty. This increased severity is explained by increased production of the male hormones (androgens) which stimulate the activity of the sebaceous glands. Children too may be affected by acne soon after birth. It is transient and clears as the child grows but may reappear during puberty.
Different Types of Acne Treatments
a) Natural supplements:
You can get rid of your acne problems by use of supplements. The supplements that have been proven to be effective against acne are antioxidants vitamins (A, C and E) and foods, herbal remedies (such as aloe vera and Tea tree oil) and homeopathic remedies (sulfur,KaliBromatum, sanguinaria, hepar Sulphuris, Antimonium tartaricum, Nux vomica,NatrumMuriaticum, Psorinum andCalcareaSilicata). While the antioxidants reduce toxic substances that cause skin irritation other supplements are effective in soothing skin reducing the activity of the sebaceous glands.
b) Acne creams:
Benzoyl peroxide is the first line drug for treatment of acne. It is safer than may other drugs and the only side effects are dryness of the skin, slight redness, and occasional peeling. The topical agents called retinoids stabilize the hair follicles preventing them excessive growth and stimulation. Those in use are majorly prescription and include adapalene (Differin), tretinoin (Retin-A), and tazarotene (Tazorac). Another retinoid called isotretinoin is used orally. Other topical agents are the anti-inflammatories such as nicotinamide, ibuprofen in combination with tetracycline and mandelic acid.
c) Use of antibiotics:
If you have large red pimples that are itchy acne then it is possible that there is an associated bacterium. The bacterium that causes acne is called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Many prescription and over-the -counter drugs have been approved for use in treatment of acne including erythromycin, clindamycin, and tetracycline such as minocycline.
d) Home remedies:
The following home remedies can help you get rid of acne;
- Avoidance of milk and milk products in cases associated with milk ingestion.
- Avoid stressing conditions.
- For those using cosmetics, water-based preparations are the best.
- Use soaps carefully and avoid over scrubbing yourself.
Other Acne Treatment Procedures
These include surgery, dermabrasion (removed by abrasion of the surface of the skin), phototherapy (killing of bacteria by use of fluorescent light), laser therapy (used to remove scar left behind by healed acne) and surgical lancing (for treatment of cystic acnes)
Different types of Acne Products
The acne products to be used depend on the type of skin (oily, dry, sensitive, mature skin), different people groups (men, women, pregnant, teenagers), different conditions (mild acne, severe acne blackheads, whiteheads) and acne products with specialized ingredients. There are hundreds of acne products falling into any these groups. You can ask your doctor to help you choose the best for you.
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