‘Acne is a blessing in disguise, it’s your body’s wakeup call that it’s time to upgrade your diet and lifestyle’ –Maria Marlowe
When you talk of acne, you think of teens as this is a part of one’s teenage years. It is a unisex problem that starts at the onset of puberty. Acne is a chronic and inflammatory problem caused by the overproduction of oil and the accumulation of bacteria. It can affect the face, neck, back, shoulders, chest, and upper arms.
Two types of acne classification include- inflammatory (pimples and cysts) and non-inflammatory (blackheads, whiteheads). Teens aged 13-24 are most affected by acne due to the puberty cycle. It can leave scars if picked or squeezed. Acne enhances due to genetic conditions as well as stress, anxiety, weather, and oily makeup.
Acne Types, Causes & Treatment
Acne can be identified based on size and color-
1. Whiteheads: They are small, white and stay under the skin.
2. Blackheads: These kinds are found on the skin’s surface and are black in color due to oxidization.
3. Papules: They are small, pink bumps seen on the surface of the skin.
4. Pustules: They are found on the surface of the skin, have a red base and filled with white pus.
5. Nodules: They are big, solid, and painful pimples found on the surface of the skin.
6. Cysts: They are very painful as they are pus-filled inflammations that can cause scars.
During puberty, hormones called Androgens tend to increase and cause the oil glands to enlarge and produce more oil or sebum. This leads to clogging of the hair follicles, which can lead to bacterial infection and acne. Other factors that aggravate acne are greasy cosmetics, hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, and menstruation in girls.
Treatment depends on the severity of acne-
1. Mild acne
Gels, soaps, pads, creams, and lotions can treat mild acne. Creams and lotions are suitable for sensitive skin and gels for oily skin.
2. Moderate to Severe acne
A dermatologist needs to be consulted, as in severe cases, he can provide stronger topical creams with antibiotics.
He may give a corticosteroid injection if an acne cyst becomes inflamed. This will prevent scarring on rupture of the cyst, reduce inflammation, and speed up the healing process.
a. Oral antibiotics too may be prescribed for 6 months in severe cases. Antibiotics will help to reduce inflammation and prevent bacterial growth.
b. Erythromycin and Tetracycline are antibiotics prescribed to cure severe acne.
c. Oral contraceptives, too are prescribed to control acne in women. They are used for long term acne therapy in women.
These oral contraceptives are not recommended for women who have-
i. Clotting disorder
ii. Migraine history
iv. Are over 35 yrs
d. Topical antimicrobials are also prescribed in moderate to severe acne. These help to unclog pores and prevent the formation of whiteheads and blackheads.
Medicines prescribed are Clindamycin and Sulfacetamide.
Note: For cystic acne- Isotretinoin, an oral retinoid is used under supervision or it can have severe side-effects.
Prevention and Management
1. Upgrade lifestyle- Get proper sleep, eat healthy food and remain hydrated by drinking a good amount of water.
2. Don’t pick or pop pimples to avoid scarring and marring one’s beauty for life.
3. Get facials done in a salon and get whiteheads and blackheads removed regularly.
4. Use mild scrubs and exfoliants to open pores and remove dead skin cells.
5. Integrate Retinol into your skin regime. It peels away dead skin effectively and without irritating your skin.
6. Don’t touch the face with your fingertips, earphones, phones or anything that can transfer bacteria.
7. Maintain hygiene before applying any lotion by sanitizing the hands.
8. Clean your spectacles regularly as they may contain bacteria and dust.
9. For back acne, wear loose-fitting clothes to help the skin breathe.
10. Avoid oil-based cosmetics having comedogenic or pore-clogging ingredients. Use clean makeup tools and take makeup off before bed.
11. Wash hair regularly to avoid the collection of dirt.
12. Avoid excessive sun exposure as it can cause produce more sebum.
13. Avoid electric shavers or sharp safety razors for shaving.
14. During hot and humid months, try to prevent excessive sweating and find ways to remain cool.
15. Last but not least, keep stress at bay to reduce an acne outbreak
Sometimes some home remedies too can be useful in the management of acne. They are-
1. Tea-tree Oil: Treats cases of mild-moderate acne.
2. Green Tea- It is said to reduce sebum production and help calm acne.
3. Aloe Vera- Moisturizers with aloe vera is a light treatment used to treat acne.
Good Skin Cleaning Regimen
1. Clean face twice daily with a gentle skin cleanser
2. Use a gel or cream with dermatologist prescribed benzoyl peroxide to kill acne-causing bacteria
3. For acne-prone skin, apply a Sulfur-based night cream on the afflicted areas
4. Apply a light treatment skin moisturizer twice daily and end your regime with SPF
Last but not least, acne needs patience, an upgraded lifestyle, and perseverance to get a proper cure. Teenage years are times of emotional upheaval so hormones play havoc on the skin and acne outbreaks are frequent. So, maintain good hygiene and lead a happy, healthy life to treat and reduce acne effectively.