Most everybody has to deal with acne at one time or the other. Acne is especially noticeable during teen years when individuals are the most self-conscious about their looks and wish to make a favorable impression. The disfiguring effects of acne (especially on the face) are quite depressing and can greatly damage anyone’s self esteem.
Acne is caused by an imbalance in the skin’s physiology. Hormonal changes during adolescence trigger hyperactivity of oil producing glands in the skin. This oil and dead skin cells block hair follicles. Opportunistic skin bacteria then infect these follicles.
With so many commercial anti-acne medications to choose from, how does one know which medication suits him or her best? Different skin types react differently to medications. What works well for one person may not work for another. While it is always best to consult a dermatologist, below are a few popular medications used in the battle against acne. These drugs act on factors that cause acne — oil, dead skin and bacteria.
Accutane is an oral drug that acts on cells that produce oil and reduces their output by as much as 80%. However, Accutane affects all the cells in the body and could cause the mucosal lining in lips, mouth, eyes and vagina to bleed. It also causes significant birth defects and damages the liver.
Antibiotics help in controlling the infectious bacteria in an outbreak of acne. Erythromycin is widely used in topical applications. Continued use of antibiotics though results in the development of drug-resistant bacteria. Individual sensitivity to antibiotics should also be tested prior to use.
Retin A is a topical medication that is quite effective in reducing acne, but it does cause skin irritation, redness, itching and flaking.
Several masks that reduce the oil content of the skin are available. These include charcoal and oatmeal masks. One must be cautious in using these as they may cause over drying of skin.
Salicylic Acid, better known as aspirin, is an effective antidote. When used topically as a 1-2% solution, it promotes exfoliation of the epidermal layer of the skin, and minimizes plugging of follicles.
Precautions such as avoiding exposure to strong sunlight and intake of greasy food, controlling stress, personal hygiene and regular exercising go a long way in controlling the effects of acne.
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