Acne: An Overview, and 5 Dermatologist-Recommended Solutions to Reduce it
Posted: Aug 02, 2020
Acne refers to a skin condition in which excessive oil and dead skin cells build up in your follicles or pores, blocking them. This results in the appearance of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. Sometimes, bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes that normally dwell on human skin can become trapped right alongside the debris and lead to an inflamed form of acne in which you may have pustules or cysts on your skin.
- Who is Likely to be Affected?
Acne is the most prevalent chronic skin condition. It affects many people to different degrees of severity. Hormones called androgens play a primary role in causing this condition. At puberty, almost 95% of people typically have some form of acne as sebaceous glands become active due to a surge in hormone levels. However, adults, including people in their 50s, can also have this condition.
- How Does it Affect Most People?
Acne is not a dangerous condition, but scarring and cosmetic concerns can cause a lot of self-esteem issues in people. For many, it can lead to severe effects on mental health. Moreover, it can relapse and remit according to dietary habits, stress patterns, and hormonal issues. Thus, it represents a dermatological condition that requires consistent care in all aspects of health.
- What are Some Common Treatments?
Treatment is according to the severity of disease and can include over-the-counter topical medicines or oral prescription drug courses. All of this is, of course, complemented by routine skincare regimens that help promote optimal skin health and pH, and keep acne triggers to a minimum.
Best Solutions Advised by Dermatologists
Searching for acne treatments that impart lasting effects can be an overwhelming and distressing process. Advice from friends and family may have you cautious about whether or not their recommended options will help you in particular, or a severe breakout following the use of some widely-acclaimed product still haunts you. These are all valid concerns as everybody has a different skin type, sensitivity, and underlying factors for acne.
It helps to have tried and tested acne solutions that are verified by expert dermatological opinion and research. In the following text, we’ll review in detail some valid acne solutions and tips that are commonly advised by dermatologists.
1. Use a Multi-Pronged Strategy Targeting Multiple Causes of Acne
As we have said, sebum or oil production, bacteria, dirt, inflammation, and hormonal problems all have a hand in promoting acne. As such, it is best to use a combination therapy that targets all these root causes.
Dermatologists also use this approach while devising treatment plans.
You must give every treatment some 4-6 weeks to show effect. If you don't observe any result or the observed effect is less than you'd hoped, you can add another anti-acne treatment that focuses on a different root cause of acne.
To give an example, salicylic acid is a compound normally used in the treatment of acne. Its role is to reduce inflammation and unclog pores. On the other hand, benzoyl peroxide is a treatment that fights acne-causing bacteria. Retinoids reduce oiliness and clogged pores.
If you have been using one method for some time and still don't see the full clearance of acne, maybe you can benefit from adding another treatment.
2. Be Gentle with Your Skin
This should go without saying. Dermatologists recommend people with acne-prone skin to avoid excessive washing and scrubbing. No more than two face washes, once on waking up and once before going to bed, are recommended – unless you’ve sweated considerably in between for some reason, in which case you should definitely wash your face. Excessive face-washing can worsen acne and irritate the already sensitive skin.
Dermatologists also routinely recommend you to avoid picking, popping and squeezing pimples. Yes, it very tempting to squeeze a pimple and make it go away instantaneously. But you'll see ten more popping up the next day, not to mention that picking and squeezing can leave permanent scars. Similarly, facial scrubbing is also a strict no-go.
3. Use Proven Home Remedies like Tea Tree Oil
Home-based methods are a handy way of dealing with acne that is mild to moderate or flares up occasionally.
Research has shown that 5% tea tree oil may be an effective method of treating mild to moderate acne. It may work by killing bacteria and reducing skin irritation.
Dermatologists often take care to recommend dietary modifications to help with acne. Vitamin A, E, and zinc are of particular interest as they have been shown to protect against severe acne. Sources of these nutrients include nuts and vegetable oils for vitamin E, cod liver oil, eggs, orange fruits, and vegetables for vitamin A, and whole grains and milk products for zinc.
10% Aloe vera and witch hazel moisturizers can also help soothe irritated skin, especially in people who use isotretinoin.
4. Take Care to Use Non-Acnegenic Products
A buildup of harmful skin products can lead to acne. It is recommended to use makeup and skincare products that are labeled as non-acnegenic, non-comedogenic, oil-free, and alcohol-free.
Nevertheless, some of these gentler products may also cause acne breakouts in some selected people. You may have to try different products before you can find ones that are best suited to your individual skin.
5. Isotretinoin, Corticosteroids, Birth Control Pills: The Big Guns
These are some solutions for people with treatment-resistant and more severe acne, and typically require dermatologist appointments.
Milder forms of acne can be managed with over-the-counter topical medications like benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, Retin-A, and azelaic acid. Inflamed or more severe types of acne should be treated by dermatologists through more specialized methods.
A large and painful acne cyst may be treated in the clinic by a shot of corticosteroid that your dermatologist will inject directly into the cyst.
In some people, hormonal issues may be at the heart of acne breakouts. There are several approved birth control pills that combine estrogen and progestin to maintain hormone levels and can help keep skin clear and acne-free in the long-term. However, you need to be cleared by a gynecologist or specialist for the safe use of these drugs.
Last but not the least, there’s isotretinoin, an oral retinoid that has proven to be a game-changer in acne treatment. It has a potent effect on oil-producing glands of the skin and has given a cure rate of 50% even in severe forms of acne. But a downside of its potency is that is can cause severe skin and mucosal dryness. What's more, a course of isotretinoin must be administered supervised as the drug can cause birth defects in pregnancy and can adversely affect liver function. For the same reason, it is not available OTC in many countries and requires the supervision of a dermatologist for careful administration.
If you’re contemplating the use of any of these methods for acne treatment and require an appointment with a dermatologist, you can find some of the best and most qualified ones through doctoranytime. Book an appointment now to seek professional care in order to achieve healthier, glowing skin.
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