What teenager hasn’t gone through the agony of acne and tried every method in the book that teaches how to get rid of it? The fact is, there are many natural and medical treatments for acne available: home remedies and over the counter acne medications from the drugstore. There are emergency tactics that can get rid of pimples overnight and remedies for pimples that are marketed as regular skin care for getting rid of acne. To understand how these medications work, we must understand what acne is and what causes it.
What is acne?
Acne is a very prevalent skin condition manifested as pimples or zits. These are inflamed elevations of the skin that occur when a hair follicle is clogged up with bacteria, excess oil and dead skin cells. Most acne infections strike at their most harsh between the ages of 12 and 25, although it can develop at any age. The most common areas that are affected by acne are the face, chest, shoulders and back.
How does acne develop?
Under the skin’s surface are the sebaceous glands that produce sebum, the oil that is produced by the body to act as a moisturizer. The hair follicles found within these glands open through pores out into the skin. During adolescence, hormone production increases and along with this, the glands excrete more sebum. The excess sebum and dead skin cells plug the follicle and Propionibactierium acnes bacteria invade it. The P. acnes bacteria is part of the skin’s normal flora but an overgrowth of it can cause skin inflammations that are called pimples.
When a hard plug is formed, it blocks the pore and becomes a comedone, a non-inflammatory acne which may be whiteheads or blackheads. The inflammatory types of acne are classified as moderate or severe with the most severe type being made up of cysts (sacs) and nodules (swelling). When new skin cells grow over the damaged cells, scarring occurs.
What are the causes of acne?
There are risk factors associated with acne, which may also cause its flare-up:
- Age and gender: teenagers and people in their early twenties are more prone to acne breakouts because it is at this age that androgen (the male hormone) is produced. Androgen is associated with acne development. It is also because of androgen that males are more prone to acne than females.
- Personal hygiene: people who do not maintain cleanliness and basic skin care are inviting acne since the dead skin cells and excess oil are not removed from their bodies, thereby promoting the growth of P. acnes bacteria.
- Cleansing and cosmetic products: use of hard facial scrubs, harsh soaps, oil-based cosmetics and hair sprays can cause acne to worsen. Avoid these products; they have been found to damage your subaceous glands and worsen your acne later on in life.
- Stress and hormonal imbalance: emotional stress and changes in hormone production that occur during pregnancy and menstruation can lead to acne breakouts.
How do I treat acne?
Before you think about acne treatment, remember what you were taught in school: prevention is always better than cure. So if the pimples have not set in, you can prevent acne and acne scars by maintaining regular skin care and a balanced diet rich in Vitamins A and E to improve your body’s ability to fight acne.
There are topical acne medications and procedures for acne treatments. But there are risks for allergies from these medications and procedures like dermabrasion and chemical peels may lead to acne scarring. Besides, these treatments cost a lot of money. There are also several inexpensive home remedies that you can use for moderate to severe acne breakouts. Why not try some of these natural acne treatments?
- Tea tree oil – considered one of the best natural treatments for acne, tea tree oil has no adverse side effects. The tea tree is a native tree of Australia and contains the ingredient Terpenes, which fights the P. acnes bacteria, thus acting like an antibiotic.
- Salicylic acid – salicylic acid softens keratin, that fibrous protein found on and beneath the skin’s surface; bundled together, they are tough and hard and combined with sebum, they form the plug that makes the pimple. Salicylic acid works to peel the dead skin, thus unplugging the pore to expose the smoother skin.
- Benzoyl peroxide – used twice a day, benzoyl peroxide is available in cream or gel form. Benzoyl peroxide contains the element oxygen and the P. acnes bacteria that causes acne cannot live in an oxygen-containing environment. Thus, applying benzoyl peroxide onto the pores effectively kills the bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide also works by getting rid of the dead skin cells that block the hair follicle and this minimizes the acne infections.
- Mild soaps – regular skin care includes washing your face at least twice a day, once in the morning and at night to remove all the dirt that has accumulated and your make-up. Just wash your face with mild soaps and rinse thoroughly. Do not use overly hot or cold water as the extreme temperature can cause flaky skin and redness. Make sure to pat dry with a clean towel to avoid introducing bacteria onto the skin. Harsh soaps and exfoliating scrubs used on sensitive skin can only lead to an increase in skin problems.
Having acne can lower a person’s self-confidence. Don’t let it get to you and make you miss out on all the activities and fun you can have with your friends. With persistence in using these acne treatments, you can get rid of acne.
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