Acne – is it a Case of Mind over Disease?
Acne vulgaris is a long-term skin disease. Facial acne can be terrible for the person who has it, so much so it can cost you a job or leave you without a date at your graduation party.
No Revolutionary, Overnight Treatments
How wonderful it would be to just wave a magic wand and clear up your red, angry-looking acne. Unfortunately with acne, there aren’t any revolutionary, overnight treatments that work uniquely for your skin condition. There are many people who will tell you about the emotional scars that acne can leave. Acne can heal, but it will require patience and commitment.
In the meantime, there are treatments for your inflamed, painful, broken, oozing skin. Before you even start thinking of topical treatments, a gentle cleanser that won’t irritate the skin is always recommended, whether you have acne or not.
Check the ingredients carefully because irritating the skin can lead to further outbreaks! Certainly, if you have inflammatory acne, avoid cleansers with granules in them that could open the skin and cause bleeding.
Hormonal Imbalances a Culprit
With acne, it can provide you with comfort knowing that your skin ailment isn’t solely attributed to your skin type – which is likely oily.
it’s mostly a teen thing..
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in most parts of the world. It’s considered a normal part of puberty. It’s a condition that shows up on the face, neck, chest and shoulders as bumps. These bumps can be white- or blackheads, pimples, or cysts. Teenagers mostly get acne because of hormonal changes that come with puberty. The good news is that, for most of us, acne disappears almost completely by the time our teenage lives are over However, you’ll often notice that pregnant women develop acne quite often, and this is because of the rise in the levels of hormones in the body.
The acne clears up generally after the baby’s birth. Sometimes even newborns have infantile acne because of some hormones passed through the placenta. Researchers have also found that genes can play an important role in causing acne.
How Acne Forms
The most common type of acne is acne vulgaris. The hair follicles in your skin contain sebaceous glands which make sebum. We all need oil to lubricate the skin which is the largest organ of the body – a vital organ that requires special care. Most of the time, the sebaceous glands produce the right amount of sebum, but during puberty, hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum. Too much sebum causes the pores to clog up, and with too many dead skin cells, bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) gets trapped inside the pores – they multiply – This is when acne starts.
Everybody’s skin is different and is therefore important to check product labels to ensure you don’t get the opposite results of what you anticipated.
The Different Types of Acne
- Whiteheads or Blackheads – if the pores are clogged up and are closed, you’re left with a whitehead. If a pore gets clogged up but remains open, the top surface darkens and you’re left with a blackhead. If the wall of the pores open, allowing bacteria, sebum, and dead skin cells to make their way under the skin, a pimple forms.
- Papules – you’ll recognize papules by their redness and swelling as well as the absence of pus. They’re small to medium in size. Because inflammation is a symptom of acne, the goal is to soothe and calm the area.
- Pustules – are similar to papules, but unlike papules, they’ve got pus and are painful to the touch.
- Nodules/Cysts – large, red, inflamed lumps that are far bigger than pimples and which can last for months. Nodules can cause severe and permanent damage to the skin if left untreated. Many over-the-counter treatments don’t work and it may therefore, be necessary to see a dermatologist for stronger, prescription-strength medicine.
There are other types of severe acne:
- Acne conglobata – a severe form of nodulocystic acne. Large painful cysts form that connect beneath the skin. Disfiguring scars can be formed. The nodules are filled with pus and form inflamed abscesses in the skin. Acne conglobata is chronic and it is important to work with a dermatologist to prevent the development of permanent scars. Oral steroids are used to help with reducing the inflammation.
- Acne fulminans – this is a more severe type of acne conglobata. Sudden and severe inflammation affects the entire body. This particular acne is related to a rise in male hormones, and therefore common in adolescent males. Symptoms are fever, joint pain, inflammation and sometimes weight loss. Treatment focuses on managing the inflammation, so non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are typically prescribed. Corticosteroid drugs are sometimes used to help with controlling inflammation.
- Gram negative folliculitis – follicles in the skin become inflamed from a bacterial infection. A Gram stain is used to detect certain bacteria. Antibiotics such as isotretinoin is used to treat Gram-negative folliculitis, which can be successful.
Without treatment, severe acne types can cause significant scarring, damage to the skin, as well as emotional problems.
These severe types of acne cause different kinds of scarring:
- Ice Pick scars which are seen as a host of small pits – sometimes laser resurfacing might be required to remove large scars
- Hypertrophic / Keloid scars – thick, lumpy scars – can be difficult to treat and can return to haunt you. Surgery may be required
- Atrophic scars – flat, thin scars – dermabrasion
What are the important Active Ingredients to Look out for?
Moderate acne can be treated and controlled using cleansers, exfoliators, and special moisturizers. All these treatments have a mixture of active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide which actually kills the bacteria that causes acne. Other active ingredients are sulfur, salicylic acid as well as alpha hydroxy acids which dry up the acne and cause the top layer of the skin to peel.
A dermatologist will recommend a combination of oral antibiotics and topical treatments.
- Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) – gets rid of dead skin cells that cause pimple-producing clogged pores. Types of AHAs include glycolic and lactic acid.
- Sulfur – decreases excess oil and inflammation and helps to exfoliate dead skin cells. People just don’t like the unpleasant smell of sulfur, but the results are good.
- Benzoyl peroxide – it kills bacteria and exfoliates dead skin cells.You’ll find it in creams, gels and cleansers in strengths ranging from 2.5- to 10%.
- Salicylic acid – this beta-hydroxy acid is an effective exfoliant that helps with keeping pores clear by exfoliating inside the hair follicle. Salicylic acid is related to aspirin, which has anti-inflammatory properties Medical experts recommend looking for 2% salicylic acid in your acne treatment.
- Multi-vitamin supplements and herbal mixtures are natural products which can also offer tremendously positive results for acne. Some of these are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Zinc and the B complex vitamins.
Prescription Acne Treatments:
- Antibiotics – prescription antibiotics kills the P. acnes bacteria. It is available in oral and topical form. The oral form is often tetracycline and erythromycin while the topical form is erythromycin and clindamycin.
- Topical retinoids – vitamin-A-derived topical retinoids, including Retin-A for instance as well as adapalene and tazarotene. These smooth and exfoliate dead skin cells that clog. Retinoids can cause skin irritation and dryness, more so if you have a sensitive skin. Be careful not to use more of the product than you should.
- Azelaic acid – kills bacteria and exfoliates dead skin cells that can plug up pores. It is available in cream and gel form and treats mild to moderate acne
- Birth-control pills – these pills help regulate hormone swings that cause cyclical acne.
How to Find the Best Acne Treatment
White heads, black heads, pastules, cystic acne – this skin disease isn’t a one-size-fits-all condition and treatment process. Long ago teenagers bought a tube of Clearasil and were told to banish oily foods from their diet, but acne in the 21st century goes far beyond that. Not all acne will respond to the same types of treatments.
Comedonal acne is a certain pattern of acne which you find with teenagers. It can be treated with topical creams such as Retin-A which works by unblocking clogged pores. Look out for Panthenol in acne creams at it assists with the healing of skin tissue and also promotes cell regeneration while moisturizing and soothing. There are acne scars cream that can help with making the scars softer and less noticeable.
Some of these creams contain ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile that soothe and moisturize the skin. Other creams have collaxyl in them and this assists the skin in regenerating new cells with amazing results. Niacinamide is another ingredient in acne creams that help with fading scars and taking away the redness. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
What is Benzoyl Peroxide spot treatments and why we Eliminated it
Benzoyl Peroxide is used to treat mild to moderate acne. It is available without prescription. It works by reducing acne-causing bacteria and by causing the skin to dry and peel. Benzoyl peroxide is an organic compound, and as the name suggests, it is part of the peroxide group. It is used as an acne treatment, applied to the affected areas as a gel, a lotion or in cream form. Follow the directions on the package or on your prescription label carefully. Don’t use more or less of it.
Benzoyl peroxide commonly causes dryness, burning, itching and even some swelling. The potential to be carcinogenic has been investigated and should be a warning to acne sufferers. A study published in 1981 in the journal Science states that benzoyl peroxide isn’t a carcinogen, but it does promote cell growth – when applied to a tumor. The study ended with a few words of wording, stating that caution should be recommended in its use.
Always consult your doctor or pharmacist if you feel the need for more details. There are many people who use this product without any side effects. Discontinue its use and get medical help if you suffer from dizziness, a rash or swelling of the face or tongue.
Our Top 3 Favorite Acne Treatments
1. Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength System
This is a 3-step regular strength anti-acne skincare routine. It is suitable for all skin types. It comes with 3 products:
- Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser – won’t cause dryness and it reduces redness and dissolves clogged-up dirt. The ingredient triclosan works to treat the actual acne.
- Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment – a light lotion texture with just 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide (AHA). Gets to the root of acne-causing bacteria and penetrates pores to reduce acne blemishes. It can be worn under makeup.
- Clear Regular Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution – suitable for mild to moderate acne. No harsh ingredients such as menthol. Works to rid you of blackheads and whiteheads. Has 2% salicylic acid. It is light to apply to the skin and eliminates redness.
2. Dermalogica Clear Start Kit
When you do research, you quickly discover that Dermalogica is the first choice of skin care professionals globally. The privately owned company isn’t owned by a beauty conglomerate, but rather takes pride in being pioneers in the industry. Their Clear Start Kit is tough on acne breakouts, yet gentle on the skin, with potent yet gentle botanicals for healthy skin. The kit is made up of:
- Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash – apply to hands then massage over damp face before rinsing
- Breakout Clearing Overnight Treatment – after cleaning, apply a thin layer over the skin
- Breakout Clearing All Over Toner – spritz over clean face with eyes closed
- Breakout Clearing Daytime Treatment – apply just to problem areas and allow to dry
- Oil Clearing Matte Moisturizer SPF 15 – after cleansing apply over face and neck
3. Proactiv+ 3-Step System
Skin Smoothing Exfoliator – Smooth away excess dirt and oil
- apply the equivalent of a teaspoon to dampened skin
- massage in circular motions for 3 minutes
- rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry
Pore Targeting Treatment – gets rid of acne bacteria
- apply 2 pumps to clean and dry skin
- apply over the face and don’t rinse off. Allow your face to absorb the treatment
Complexion Perfecting Hydrator – soothes irritation and reduces post-acne marks
- apply to dry skin
- smooth over entire face and don’t rinse off
- you can re-apply this throughout the day and remember to apply an SPF 15 or higher before going out into the sun
Factors which Irritate Acne
Just like we get irritated by the minor frustrations of everyday life which can lead to too many health problems like acne, the skin does too. Anything which rubs or scratches at it continuously will cause irritation and breakouts. It’s called acne mechanica. Reduce these irritations wherever you can.
- avoid severe stress – easier said than done but try and find the source of your stress and try to eliminate it
- hormonal factors
- genetic factors
- certain medications – drugs such as corticosteroids, lithium, barbiturates and those with iodides can cause acne
- clothes which constantly rub against the body
- tight fitting straps
- constantly picking at your face
Some of the Many Tips to Avoid Acne
- Wash your face with gentle, natural skin products morning and evening to remove dead cells. Never scrub your acne as this can make it worse. Cleanse your face as gently as you can. If you are wearing sunscreen or make-up, buy those labeled noncomedogenic which means it won’t clog your pores.
- did you know that acne reflects our emotional traumas and thinking patterns? Try and alter your mental and emotional way of thinking. Negative, violent thoughts can actually spur the production of certain chemicals which can aggravate the way your body works
- make sure to get outside often and to take part in outdoor activities – walking, swimming, tennis etc.
- don’t allow oily hair to hang into your face. Wash your hands if you’ve been working with oily food for instance. Dirt and oils aggravate acne
- go for water-based make-up as opposed to the oil-based make-up
- drink lots of water to rid the body of toxins
- avoid those sugary carbonated drinks
- stop smoking – this is the leading source of indoor air pollution. Pollution in all its forms contributes to acne.
Don’t surrender to acne. We’ve all got different skin types, but whatever skin you’ve got, just the slightest external stress factor can heat the skin with aggravation. Acne and other skin ailments then flare up. Like the rest of your body, your skin can be affected by stress and unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Topical acne treatments may control your symptoms, but won’t necessarily cure the problem on its own as its a combination of factors which will. Acne is more than skin deep – it’s about clean skin, right diet, exercise – in other words, acne’s cure is holistic – treating the entire body. Excess oil and inflammation are the primary physical cause of acne, and stress causes inflammation.
It’s been shown that true fighters who refuse to give in to their woes can greatly enhance their prospects for recovery. Mental attitudes and coping all strongly affect us, and millions of people have battled with acne and survived. Be consistent with your acne treatments, new lifestyle and your reward will be a clearer, healthier skin and a wiser, happier you.