Acne is a condition that affects almost 80 out of 100 people from 11 to 30 years old. This condition has been around for such a long time that acne treatments vary from simple over-the-counter medication to herbal medicines to folk cures.
You’d think that just because acne is this common that there would be a universally effective treatment for it by now, but take a look at your local pharmacy shelves and you’ll find hundreds of anti-acne products promising cures. If you look closer, you’ll find different formulations for different types of acne.
Know your weapons.
You may have a simple case of pimples that can go away in a day or two or you may have regular breakouts that you are used to by now. If there is inflammation and the appearance of pustules, it would be best to see a doctor to treat acne at an early stage. Your doctor will determine your type of acne and prescribe the proper medications for you to administer at home.
Home treatments for acne include using topical creams that have antibacterial components. One of the most popular is benzoyl peroxide. It not only kills the bacteria on the skin, it also promotes peeling and shedding of dead skin cells so the pores don’t get clogged.
If you’re using a home treatment, do not expect acne to clear out immediately. It would take days or weeks, even months to see some good results. If your acne hasn’t cleared after two months or if you have a severe case, it would be wise to see a doctor immediately.
Another topical cream that your doctor may prescribe is azelaic acid which will not cause skin redness like benzoyl peroxide. This preparation has been known to cause redness, dryness and some irritation, but it is a strong oxidizer (acts as a mild bleach) which means the skin will not develop a resistance.
Vitamin A-related treatments like tretinoin, tazarotene and adapalene may also be prescribed. They are called retinoids and aid in preventing follicle blockage. They may, however, cause some significant irritation of the skin especially during the initial treatment.
Antibacterial creams and oral tablets that contain antibiotics like erythromycin or tetracycline may also be prescribed. Note, however, that killing the bacteria will not stop the skin from secreting oil which causes follicle blockage in the first place. Bacteria may also develop a resistance to antibiotics and some acne may reappear days or weeks after the prescribed duration of the treatment.
For some women, acne can be eased with hormonal treatments. The combined estrogen-progestogen contraceptives may have some effect in improving acne. There are women, though, for whom the opposite is true.
Cortisone is an injectable substance that your dermatologist may introduce directly into a pimple, especially if it is large and not affected by other treatments. This will help reduce the inflammation so you do not see a bump on the skin. There is also minimal risk of scarring.
Be careful of the light.
Sunlight is a widely-advised treatment for acne, but overexposure may damage the skin due to UV. There is, however, a light treatment called phototherapy where skin is exposed to visible light, in particular, the intense blue light that is produced by dichroic bulbs, fluorescent lighting and LEDs. Regular treatments have been shown to reduce acne lesions by a significant amount.
Keep your face clean but do not overwash. Washing the skin with an unscented antiseptic soap will keep bacterial growth in check, but do not wash more than the number of times recommended. Twice a day is good enough. Overwashing will mean touching and rubbing your face more so it gets irritated.
Keep your hands off your face. It’s tempting to squeeze and pick those pimples, but doing so will introduce bacteria to the already open skin and worsen the inflammation. Once the skin erupts, scarring occurs.
Watch your diet. There is a popular belief that acne is caused by eating chocolates, french fries, spicy food, even peanuts. No study has ever really made a conclusive statement, but if you think some foods do trigger acne breakouts, then keep away from them.
Keep stress at bay. It is not clearly known, but stress triggers the appearance of acne. Notice how those red bumps have a way of showing up just before a big day or special occasion?
Handling the scars.
Acne treatments are by themselves, skin peelers in that they promote the shedding of dead skin so new skin can grow. This has the effect of ‘flattening’ the uneven surface. But some acne conditions may have produced some deep scars and there are treatments like dermabrasion, chemical peels and laser surgery that a patient can turn to. These, however, have their own side effects.
There are many products out in the market that promise total cure. It is best to be realistic and understand that there is no overnight treatment, so beware of medications that promise miracles. Acne can be difficult to cure, but it is manageable. Some medication may show some results about three weeks from the beginning of the treatment, so do not be disappointed and stop the medications altogether. Acne can be treated and sensible hygiene with the help of medication may just do the trick.
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