The skin is exposed to all sorts of trauma and toxins. It is for this and other reasons that there are innumerable forms of skin related conditions.
Of all skin conditions, acne is most common. Over 80% of the world’s population will experience acne, mostly between 11 and 25 years of age.
Acne mostly occurs on face, neck, chest, upper arms and back. Mild acne will usually disappear in less than 6 months and rarely leave marks or scars. In fact, whiteheads can disappear in days or even overnight. Blackheads are a bit persistent. Severe forms on the other hand may require clinical treatment and will usually leave scars on top of being painful.
Acne is a benign condition. This means that it will neither develop nor is it a sign of a complicated health condition. It can however cause aesthetic-related complications.
If it is to be treated effectively, detailed information on what is acne, its causes, prevention and available treatment options must be accessed.
In this article, we will look into details on all that involves what acne is and available treatment options.
What is acne, spots and scars?
You will come across any of the above terms in forums discussing acne. Acne is categorized into two main classes:
Non-inflammatory – acne pimples that have not been infected with bacteria. They are neither painful nor enlarged. Blackheads and whiteheads are best examples.
Inflammatory – acne pimples that have been infected with bacteria. They are both inflamed and painful. Papules and cysts are good examples.
When people talk about acne, they mostly are referring to acne vulgaris. This is the most common type we are used to. Below are the sub-groups of acne types:
- Blackheads – these are pimples in which sebum has undergone oxidation and transformed into a thick hard substance which is dark in color. It merges with melanin to form a dark coloration, hence its name.
- Whiteheads – these are acne pimples in which sebum is protected by a thin layer of the skin. From outside, the sebum can be seen vaguely, hence the white appearance that gives them the name.
- Papules – these are tiny tender bumps that are usually pinkish in color.
- Pustules – they are reddened on the point they attach to the skin. Since they contain pus, they look whitish at the top.
- Nodules – rather than occurring above the surface of the skin, these pimples develop underneath the skin. They are big and painful.
- Cysts – these are the most extreme forms of acne. They form very deep inside the skin. A lot of pus is contained in them, making them super painful. Treating them usually leaves scars.
A spot is a mismatch in skin pigmentation left behind after acne is healed. It usually resolves naturally in less than 6 months.
Scars on the other hand are marks or dents left behind after a pimple has ruptured, changing collagen in the process. Depending on the type of acne, different types of acne scars will be left behind.
What causes acne?
So what causes acne? It may be quite surprising and actually disappointing that the cause of acne is not known.
Underneath the skin, there are various types of glands. One of the types is responsible for the production of oil that keeps the skin hydrated. The oil is known as sebum.
Sebum gets to the skin through pores known as follicles. It is also through the follicles that dead skin cells are brought to skin surface. From time to time, the sebum and dead skin get trapped somewhere inside the follicle. This forms a bump, otherwise known as an acne pimple.
As it is with health conditions, only predisposing factors can be identified. Actual causes are usually hard to point.
Below are the factors what will either contribute or worsen acne:
- Genetic predisposition – in some family lineages, acne is more pronounced. For example, if your father or mother has had to deal with severe acne throughout their life, the same might happen to you.
- Some drugs – injections containing steroids are most notable in this case. Medications carrying lithium, iodine and bromine also encourage acne. Medications that contain androgenic hormones will also have a similar effect.
- Hormones – changes in hormonal levels account for the most cases of acne in teenagers. During teenage years, major changes occur in the sebaceous glands that produce sebum. Hormonal changes are also experienced in women during and after menstruation.
- Skin care products – some skin care products work by clogging or blocking skin pores. This makes it hard or impossible for sebum to make it to the surface of the skin.
- Trauma – sources of trauma such as environmental changes, wearing helmets, irritating clothing and other sources can irritate acne or dry the skin out. Some occupations also can expose the skin to oils which block skin pores.
Most studies agree that oily foods do not affect the severity or the frequency of acne outbreaks. Also, sweat and dirt on the skin have very little to do with acne. Stress may make you want to pick at the pimples, making them worse in the process. However, stress as a condition doesn’t affect occurrence of acne.
Best acne treatment at home
Acne treatment at home can best be done by taking care of the skin. You can also consider acne home remedies such as tea tree oil and aloe Vera. Mostly, acne recipes made from essential oils are said to be effective.
Below are some how to prevent acne tips that can help:
- Keep facial skin well cleansed at all times. Be careful not to over-do it however. Basically, washing the face two times in a day, preferably with warm water and acne soap is enough.
- Never pop pimples no matter how inflamed they get. This only works by irritating them more. Also, avoid picking at them or constantly touching your face.
- Apply oil-free lotions or makeup and moisturizers after bath. If you are to spend some time out in the sun, wear sunscreen products that your skin is not allergic to.
- Engage in activities that relieve stress. Stress encourages the release of certain hormones that over-activate sebaceous glands. It is also likely that you will keep touching and picking at pimples when anxious.
- Learn more about safety shaving skills.
- Keep your skin hydrated at all times. You can try essential oils such as coconut oil. They keep the skin from drying out.
- You can always approach a specialist from clinical acne treatment. This is especially in case of cysts and other types of inflammatory acne.
Over the counter acne treatment products
You can purchase some acne treatment over the counter products for use at home. Gels and creams that contain 5% of benzoyl peroxide are mostly effective. Pads that contain 2% salicylic acid can also be used to exfoliate the skin. Others include:
- Retinoids – products containing this product work by unblocking the pores in which sebum has been trapped.
- Salicylic acid – it is best for teens, especially ones with black and whiteheads. The acid corrodes them and reduces inflammation. It can also in a way help in unblocking the clogged pores. Salicylic acid is a common over the counter skin tag removal option.
- Sulfur – it is widely known that sulfur excels in getting rid of pimples. The exact manner in which that effect occurs is unfortunately not known.
- Azelaic acid – this acid works by reducing the rate at which follicles rapture. It also inhibits growth and spread of acne bacteria. Without rupturing, acne cannot cause scars.
For best results, start by cleaning facial skin with warm water and a mild soap brand. Use a soft towel to pat dry or just go for air drying.
Apply the benzoyl peroxide cream in the morning and wear a salicylic pad thereafter to exfoliate.
Before bed, apply some lightening moisturizer and oil-free makeup.
If you are not certain which the best treatment to buy in a local drug store is, consult a physician or your doctor.
What acne treatment is used by a doctor?
If acne is to persist for more than 6 months, forms cysts and is proving a nuisance, you can always go for clinical treatment. Below are the probable treatment options a doctor will consider:
The peels contain salicylic and glycolic acids. They are best for teens, where acne has not developed into severe and painful forms.
Products containing this compound are perhaps the most used and effective acne treatment options available.
Basically, they are modified forms of vitamin A. in recent times, milder forms of retinoid containing products have been developed. All the same, side effects such as irritated skin and being sensitive to UV rays are common.
Oral and topical antibiotics
These are meant to keep acne bacteria in control. The problem is that they don’t address issues such as oily skin and skin dehydration, which are major causes of acne.
This drug can be injected by a doctor to reduce inflammation and also fasten the healing process. It is very effective for severe acne.
If acne has failed to respond to creams and other treatment options available, a doctor may decide to use this drug. It is very effective for notorious acne such as cysts.
Its use has been around for over three decades now. Since it brings with it a list of side effects, clinical prescription is essential.
This medication works by inhibiting androgenic transformations and hormones. It is one of the best options for teens and for men developing acne due to increased testosterone and related hormones. It can also be used for women developing acne during menstruation.
For women, birth control pills can sometimes be used to control acne. They are not that effective for severe acne. It is important that a doctor be the one to prescribe such treatment option.
Natural acne home remedies
Natural acne home remedies have been gaining a lot of attention, mostly since they don’t cause side effects. Below are some that you can consider:
- Aloe Vera – this is a very potent natural remedy when it comes to skin conditions. Fresh gel from the plant can be applied directly to the pimples. Aloe can also be used in DIY face mask. Due to its mildness and soothing effects, it can be used for burns or after mole on eyelid or mole on nipple removal to prevent infection.
- Clay – some clay such as green and bentonite clay can be used to make face masks to treat acne. They are known to dehydrate oily skins which are prone to acne.
- Tea tree oil – it is both an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory natural remedy. It can be applied directly to acne or used with carrier oils and other remedies such as honey.
- Apple cider vinegar – just as salicylic acid can break down a pimple, apple cider vinegar can do the same. It has traditionally been used against several skin conditions such as toe nail fungus and also for skin tags and wart removal.
- Essential oils – essential oils are perhaps the best natural products that can help keep the skin moisturized and in the process avoid the need for other oil-based lotions and the like. The most notable ones for acne include lavender, clary sage, juniper berry and coconut oil. Coconut oil for psoriasis is also said to be effective.
- Natural recipes – it is less efficient to counting down all the natural acne remedies that can be tried. While others may work just fine on their own, better performance can always be achieved by using more than one remedy at the same time.
This is the same trick used with methods to freeze skin tags and moles. Since freezing alone will take time, the tags are frozen and salicylic acid applied on the same afterwards.
This brings us to recipes for acne and for acne face masks. You can always find more details on how to come up with such recipes online. You can for example start by searching on how to use tea tree oil for acne.