Acne Causes, Treatments & Prevention Guide
Acne is caused by over active sebaceous glands that cause the skin to become oilier than normal. This excess oil, combined with dead skin cells, can cause the pores of the skin to become blocked. When this happens, whiteheads and blackheads will start to appear.
If acne bacteria infect these blocked pores, then the characteristic red and inflamed pus filled pimples or pustules commonly associated with acne can develop. Typically, this appears on the face and back, as the skin in these areas secretes more oil than skin elsewhere thereby making it more susceptible to disruption.
Whether or not you get acne is largely determined by your genes. So if your parents had it when they were younger, then there is a good chance that you or one of your brothers or sisters will also get it.
However, just because you have acne genes doesn’t necessarily mean that your face is doomed to a lifetime of inflammation and pus filled eruptions, as all it actually means is that you are more susceptible to developing this skin disorder than other people are.
The good news is that by using the right skin care products, living the right type of lifestyle and using the correct medication when necessary, you can greatly control the rate at which acne appears and how severe it will become.
But in order for you to do this, you first need to understand the different types of acne so that you can determine what’s going to be the most appropriate and effective treatment program for your condition.
Types of Acne
The following are the six main grades of acne, although sometimes you may see people referring to four grades, most dermatologists find that using six grades is a more accurate way to classify their patients.
Grade one is the ideal state for a person with an acne skin type. During this stage acne is inactive, which means that your skin will look normal, is not inflamed and has no eruptions.
It is important to note however, that not everyone may be able to achieve this type of skin. So try not to have unrealistic expectations about what will be possible for you, as this could lead to disappointment and even depression.
Grade two acne is characterized by the appearance of whiteheads (closed comedones) and blackheads (open comedones). During this stage, you may also have a few small red bumps (papules) on your skin.
Grade two is a fairly common grade of acne to have, and most people will either be at this grade or at grade three.
Providing that you use the right treatments, you should find them to be very effective at helping to control and manage your acne.
Grade three acne occurs when your skin begins to experience mild inflammation or redness, papules and skin eruptions. Although more severe than grade two, this level is still quite manageable with the right treatments.
By grade four, your skin has visible pustules with inflamed pores that look red.
Grade four acne is when your skin starts to become more problematic and difficult to control. As a result, you may find that previous treatments which gave you successful results in the past are now no longer helpful.
There are however, effective treatment options still available to you. Although, be aware that these will usually produce some kind of side effect such as overly dry skin.
Acne at the grade five level starts to get quite severe. In addition to experiencing the symptoms of grade three and four, you may also notice hard nodules or cysts under the surface of your skin which at times can feel sensitive to touch.
If you did not already seek professional help at grade four, then you definitely want to do so at this stage. This is because if you are not successful in controlling the progression of your acne now, then it could develop into the most severe form, grade six, which is very difficult to live with and also to treat.
The most severe form of acne is grade six, and by this stage, your acne is completely active. As a result, you are likely to experience whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules and cysts.
Your skin will look very red and inflamed and will be painful to touch. You may also notice outbreaks in other areas of your body such as on your chest and back in addition to your face.
Grade six conditions cannot be dealt with successfully by using conventional store-bought treatments. So this means that you must seek professional help in order to find a treatment that is going to control, and possibly reverse, your acne condition.
Other Forms of Classification
Sometimes your acne may be referred to in terms of its severity rather than on a graded scale, as shown below:
Mild acne is a label given to describe grades one and two. It tends to result mainly in whiteheads and blackheads with the occasional papule or pustule, and most teenagers will suffer from this form without even realizing that they actually have acne.
People with mild acne will have roughly one to five pimples on their face that are not present all the time, but seem to reappear on a regular basis in the same or different location.
Moderate acne describes grades three and four and is what most people would think of as acne. It results in whiteheads, blackheads, papules and pustules that appear in greater number and frequency than that found with mild type acne.
People with moderate acne will have more than five pimples on their face, and there always seems to be at least a few pimples remaining after others have been treated and cleared up.
Severe type acne describes grades five and six is the worst type of acne that you can suffer from.
It often results in whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules and tender cysts which can appear as a chronic condition that seems to be present all the time and is unresponsive to conventional treatments.
Another type of acne worth mentioning is the transient type. This describes a condition which appears suddenly, but only lasts for a brief period of time such as a few weeks or months.
Most people who suffer from transient acne have not had acne before. This could include teenagers who normally have clear skin, or adults who have never had skin problems before.
Transient type acne tends to be caused by medications or by stress, as these can cause changes to hormonal levels (e.g., androgens-male sex hormones) in the body.
In addition, changes to the body such as pregnancy may also cause disruptions to the normal appearance of the skin.
In most cases, treatment is not required as it will usually go away on its own. It may however, be desirable to treat for cosmetic reasons.
What is Acne Caused By?
Although there are many different factors which can contribute towards the development of acne, it’s generally accepted by members of the medical community as being caused by a bacterial infection of the skin.
The offending bacterium is called Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes for short, which is where the name “acne” comes from.
An infection of the skin by Propionibacterium acnes can result in pimples, skin that becomes red, inflamed and itchy, and in severe cases, broken skin that is sore or painful when touched.
It should be noted however, that P. acnes is a naturally occurring bacterium of the skin, and it only causes acne under certain conditions which allow it to grow to large numbers where it can then start to aggravate the skin.
In this sense, one could argue that acne is not actually caused by P. acnes bacteria, but rather by the conditions which promote its overgrowth. Below we examine some possible conditions that may allow for this overgrowth to occur.
1) Excess oil (sebum) secretion
The skin contains oil glands, known as sebaceous glands, which naturally secrete oil onto the skin. This helps to keep the skin moist and prevents it from drying out.
But in acne prone skin types, these glands become overly active and secrete excess oil which then causes the skin to appear more oily or greasy than normal.
Excess oil production tends to be stimulated as a result of sex hormones or as a result of increased levels of stress, which is why the first signs of acne outbreaks tend to appear around puberty.
With the extra oil that now lubricates the skin, bacteria can grow more easily and infect the skin more readily. When this happens, the characteristic symptoms of acne start to appear.
So the oilier your skin becomes, the more prone it will be to suffering from acne breakouts. This is why you will find many products on the market that are designed to remove the buildup of sebum or prevent excess sebum from being produced in the first place.
2) “Dirty skin”
Acne can indirectly be caused by dirty skin, although dirty is not really the right word to use.
Excess oil that accumulates on the surface of the skin may cause a blockage of the pores through which the oil is normally secreted out of.
If these pores become covered by dead skin cells, oil can be trapped in the pores and cause a blackhead or whitehead to develop. If bacteria also get trapped with the oil, it can then lead to the formation of a pimple or cyst that appears red and inflamed.
There are products on the market which can reduce the likelihood of this occurring by cleansing the pores and exfoliating dead skin cells. Such products can be very effective at helping to control outbreaks and prevent new ones from occurring.
When the skin becomes inflamed it appears red and is sometimes sore to the touch. This is a natural reaction by the body in an attempt to get rid of a foreign invader such as P. acnes, or other foreign substances such as the compounds produced by P. acnes during the infection process.
Inflammation can cause skin pores to become blocked and trap bacteria, dirt and oil inside of them. Once a pore becomes blocked, it will gradually start to protrude outwards and form a blackhead, whitehead, pimple or cyst.
All of these protrusions indicate a slightly different type of infection, although pimples and cysts are the most likely to become inflamed.
Squeezing or popping pustules or cysts is not recommended, as this can lead to increased inflammation of the skin, the spreading of acne to other parts of the face or body as well as putting you at risk of permanent scarring.
There are products which can be used to treat inflammation so that the skin becomes less inflamed and less painful. A very effective natural treatment for inflamed skin is aloe vera.
What Triggers Acne?
Living an unhealthy lifestyle and eating the wrong types of foods can cause acne to flare up and leave your face looking red and inflamed. But if you live a healthy lifestyle and eat healthy foods, your acne is likely to be much easier to control and far less noticeable.
The key therefore, to successfully managing acne, is to live a lifestyle in which you avoid the things that cause your skin to flare-up. Below is a list of some acne triggers to watch out for and avoid.
One of the most common things that can cause acne to flare up is suffering from a prolonged period of stress. If you can find a way to reduce your stress levels, such as through exercise or meditation, you will find that the condition of your skin improves dramatically.
Although it is not known exactly why stress makes acne worse, the most likely explanation is that stress weakens the immune system which then makes the body more susceptible to infection by acne bacteria.
By reducing the stress levels in your life, you will help to benefit not only the way that your skin looks, but also the overall health of your body. So this is something that is definitely worth thinking about.
Changing hormone levels are main reason why people get acne in their teenage years, and also why women can get adult onset acne shortly before their period or during pregnancy. The bad news is that there isn’t much that you can do about this, apart from eating a healthy diet and exercising on a regular basis.
Some studies for example, suggest that eating less hormone containing meat and taking zinc supplements may help to offset the adverse effects that hormonal changes can cause on your skin. In addition, peppermint tea can also be useful as it helps to control the amount of sebum that the skin produces.
Males may further help their skin by ejaculating less frequently, as ejaculating too frequently can disrupt hormonal levels and cause an increase in acne outbreaks.
3) Squeezing Pimples
Although it can be tempting to squeeze your spots, if you do so, you will also spread bacteria which will then cause more spots to appear elsewhere on the face. So as difficult as it may be, don’t do it!
Sometimes however, there will be spots and pimples that you pick at or squeeze out of habit. In such cases, you can help to prevent the spread of bacteria by washing your face or disinfecting the areas that you have squeezed or picked at.
In addition, it is also a good idea to wash your hands to prevent further reinfection to other regions of the face or body.
Drugs, such as cocaine and other stimulant drugs, can cause breakouts to appear and keep them active, and some medications can also have the same effect.
Fortunately, in cases where a medication has been responsible for an acne outbreak, as soon as you stop taking that medication your skin should return back to normal and be easier to manage.
Stimulants include things such as coffee, caffeine, sodas, tea and sugar. Stimulants tend to cause flare-ups and can make a small outbreak much more severe.
However, not everyone reacts to stimulants in the same way. So you may find that your acne doesn’t react badly to one type of stimulant but does react badly to another.
Also, some stimulant containing beverages, such as green tea, may actually help to control acne and improve the overall health of your skin. So this is something that you’re going to have to experiment with to see what you do and don’t react badly to.
6) Smoking & Alcohol
Both smoking and alcohol can make you more vulnerable to acne eruptions and can also keep existing eruptions active.
Smoking is bad news when it comes to acne because smoking delays the ability of the body to heal itself. This is important because if you squeeze a pimple, then the delayed healing rate will make it much more likely that you will develop a scar in that area.
Furthermore, smoking also increases levels of Prostaglandin D2 in the skin which can then result in inflammation.
Alcohol can be fine in moderation, but drinking too much too often can affect the ability of your liver to detoxify the body, which then adversely affects the health and appearance of your skin.
In addition, alcohol can also affect hormone levels in the body, which can then result in you becoming more susceptible to acne outbreaks.
7) Working Conditions
If you work in a hot and humid environment, such as a kitchen, factory or dry cleaners, you may find that you experience acne on a much more regular basis than others who do not work in such an environment.
Most of the time, this will be due to your pores becoming clogged with excess oil caused by sweating. You can minimize the effects of this by washing your face on a regular basis and using a towel to keep the sweat off your face.
It is not uncommon for people to experience increased acne outbreaks when they go on holiday, especially if they are visiting a warm country.
To reduce the occurrence of vacation acne, don’t moisturize your skin as often as you normally do, exfoliate your skin regularly with a salicylic acid exfoliant and try to avoid drinking too much alcohol or eating too much junk food.
9) Junk Food
The type of food that you eat can have a massive impact on the severity of your acne. If you eat lots of junk food for example, you can expect your skin to react badly in the following days.
Although it is not possible to predict exactly what types of foods you will react badly to, in general, anything that has been refined and heavily processed will probably be bad news for your skin because such foods cause inflammation in the body which can aggravate acne and make it appear much more red and inflamed.
Furthermore, junk foods, especially those containing a lot of sugar or white flour, can suppress the functioning of your immune system which then makes you more susceptible to being infected by acne bacteria and less able to fight back against that infection when it occurs.
However, since everyone’s skin reacts differently, the only way that you will know for sure what foods to avoid is by keeping a food diary that records how your skin reacts to what you eat.
But to make things a little easier for you, try to avoid eating the following foods as these are thought to be some of the most common triggers of acne.
• Soft drinks, including diet drinks
• Anything made from white flour such as white bread, cookies, crackers etc…
• Refined grains and cereals such as those in breakfast cereals
• Processed foods containing trans-fatty acids and hydrogenated vegetable oils
• Dairy products such as cheese, milk and ice cream
• French fries and white potatoes
• Sweetened fruits
• Any other sugars or sweet foods
Ideally, an acne diet should consist mainly of low-glycemic or low-carb foods. So the following should be safe to eat for most people.
• Meat, fish, seafood
• Vegetables, especially green vegetables
• Fruit, except for very sugary fruit such as lemon, grapefruits and oranges, but be careful drinking fruit juice as this may cause flare-ups to occur
• Unsalted nuts and seeds
• Olive oil
• Whole grains
Such foods will reduce the level of inflammation in your body, which should then help to improve the overall health and appearance of your skin over time.
10) Random Outbreaks
Sometimes, it seems that no matter how hard you try to no matter how healthy your lifestyle is, you just seem to get random acne eruptions.
The bad news is that there is little that you can do about this. The good news is that if you have been living a healthy lifestyle, then these outbreaks should be relatively minor, easily controlled and won’t occur very often.
As you age your skin begins to change from what it used to be like when you were younger. As a result, the type of skin care products which you used to use may no longer be suitable for your current skin type. If you use the wrong type of product it then can lead to spots, pimples and even acne.
For example, if you have an oily skin type and use a moisturizer that is too oily for your skin, then this is likely to result in your skin becoming overly oily which then increases the risk of your pores becoming clogged and infected with acne bacteria.
As a general rule, anything that you put on your skin which clogs your pores can increase your risk of developing acne.
In women, the application of certain facial cosmetics may also cause blocked pores. This tends to be most common with women who wear make up and go to bed without removing it or cleansing their face.
There is also the possibility that you have a skin allergy to some of the cosmetics which you are using. If so, this can cause inflammation and make existing acne outbreaks worse.
5 Ways a Parent Can Help Their Child
Acne can have both mental and physical effects on a teenager, the extent of which seems to increase with the severity of their condition. Surprisingly however, it tends not to be the physical effects, but rather the psychological effects that are the hardest to live with.
For example, even after someone is able to treat their condition successfully, if they have been teased about it in the past, then they may suffer from low self-esteem which could then be carried through into adulthood. As a result, they end up not only taking the physical scars of acne with them, but also the mental ones too.
So if you are a parent who has a child suffering from acne, then it is strongly recommended that you take steps to help them in any way that you can so as to minimize the effects it will have on their life. Below we discuss some of the ways in which this can be done.
1) Talk About It
If your child has acne, then there is a good chance that you or your partner also suffered from it as a teenager. This means that you are in an excellent position to explain to them exactly what they can expect and how best to cope with it.
The best time to talk about the subject is when acne first appears on your teenager, as they are unlikely to know what it is, how to treat it and how long it will last for.
Once your child feels comfortable talking about their acne with you, they will then be much more likely to come to you in the future for help and advice.
2) See a Dermatologist
As soon as your child develops acne, take them to a dermatologist for an examination so that you can both find out what type of acne you are dealing with and how aggressive it is likely to become.
The earlier it can be diagnosed the better it can be treated and controlled, so try to do this as soon as possible as it will make dealing with things a lot easier later on.
Your dermatologist is also likely to give your teenager advice on how to manage their acne by themselves, such as what they should and shouldn’t do.
This information can prove to be very valuable in helping your teenager to minimize their risk of scarring, such as by developing a proper skin care routine for example.
3) Explain That Acne is Temporary
Although it seems like a lifetime for anyone who suffers from acne, it is important to emphasize to your teenager that their skin condition is only temporary and that eventually it will pass.
If you suffered from acne when you were younger, explain to your child how you coped with it and how long it lasted for you.
If they know that you once went through what they are now going through, they won’t feel so alone and helpless which can then make dealing with the psychological effects that much easier.
4) Deal With Low Self Esteem
It is not uncommon for teenage acne sufferers to have low self-esteem and low self-confidence as a result of the way they look. They may after all, be teased by their classmates, avoided by the opposite sex and hate the way they look when they see themselves in the mirror.
As a parent, it is your job to try to raise your child’s self esteem and confidence as much as you can. This can be done by providing them with the physical help which they need to control and improve their condition, and also with the mental help that they need so they don’t feel down all the time.
The stronger a bond that you can build with your child the more effective your help is likely to be, so try to start as early as possible when their symptoms first appear.
5) Give Them Space
Give your child the help when they want it, and let them have their space when they need it. If you can follow these simple guidelines, you can give your teen the best chance of successfully coping with their acne.
Remember, this is a difficult time for anyone to go through and your teen is likely to be experiencing a whole host of different emotions, some of which may be mistakenly directed at you.
So try not to take any attacks personally, as they probably don’t mean it and are only acting that way due to their changing appearance and their changing hormonal levels.
Developing a Good Skin Care Routine
Everyone has a slightly different type of skin, even acne sufferers. As a result, finding the right products to use and developing the right routine will take some time and effort on your behalf.
You may, for example, try using a product that is designed specifically for acne sufferers, only to find that it doesn’t make your skin look any better or that it even makes it look worse.
This is because, due to your skin’s unique type, your skin may react differently to a product than someone else’s skin would. So what might work for them, might not work for you.
Unfortunately, this can make finding the right products to use difficult, because you are likely to go through a whole host of products before you finally find something that agrees with you and is effective at controlling your outbreaks.
There are however, some general guidelines that you can follow when trying to devise an effective skin care routine. Although these won’t guarantee you success, they should help to make your acne much easier to deal with and hopefully, allow you to keep it under control so that it doesn’t get any worse.
For each part of your routine, you should be looking to do it twice a day, with the exception of exfoliating, for best results.
One of the most important steps that all acne sufferers should be taking on a daily basis is keeping their face clean with a facial cleanser.
Since your face is likely to be oilier than other skin types, you should be looking for a cleanser that targets oily or acne skin.
This is important because other types of cleansers designed for other skin types, such as normal, sensitive or dry, may not actually be effective at cleansing your skin which will then leave you more prone to future breakouts.
An ideal acne facial cleanser will cleanse your face without leaving it feeling overly dry. If your skin becomes too dry after cleansing, you could strip the natural oils from the surface layers and make your skin become irritated and inflamed.
You may also find that despite using a product which seems to cleanse your face well, your outbreaks becomes worse after using it. This may be due to an allergic reaction which you are having to some of the ingredients that product contains.
Usually, the first sign of a skin allergy is red or itchy patches. So whatever product you use, especially if you haven’t used it before, pay close attention to how your skin reacts to it.
If it doesn’t react very well, try using another product because using a product which your skin is allergic to will only make your acne worse over time.
How to cleanse
To start your cleansing routine, use a gentle non-soap based cleanser to remove excess dirt and oil from the surface of your skin.
Ideally, you should be using an antibacterial cleanser, such as a Tea Tree oil cleanser, so that you will also kill acne bacteria as you cleanse.
Cleansing the surface of your skin will help to reduce the occurrence of blocked pores, which should then reduce the amount of acne outbreaks that you get in the future.
There are also various pore cleansers on the market which can be used to unblock existing blocked pores. Generally, these will contain salicylic acid or be retinoid based treatments.
Unblocking pores will help to reduce the severity of existing outbreaks, reduce redness caused by inflammation and kill any bacteria that have been trapped inside a pore which cannot be reached with a regular surface cleanser.
If you have acne on other parts of the body, such as on your chest or back, be sure to cleanse those areas also such as when you are in the shower.
How often should you cleanse?
Cleansing of the face is important because it helps to remove surface oil, skin cells and bacteria from your face.
These are the three main contributors to acne outbreaks, so if you keep your face clean, then you should find it much easier to control outbreaks and facial eruptions and also reduce the amount of acne that you suffer from.
However, whilst cleansing your face is a good idea, you do not want to do it too often, as you could end up stripping too much oil from your face or even causing inflammation which will only make things worse.
Most people will be fine washing their face two times a day, once in the morning and once at night. But if you find that you have very oily skin, then you may benefit from cleansing it three times a day.
Toning is an optional step. Some people find great benefit from using a toner, whilst other people find that they can still get good results without using one.
In general, toners are best suited for people who have very oily skin as they can be used to remove excess oil patches on problem areas of the face such as around the T-zone.
Many toners contain alcohol, and although most people should avoid using alcohol based skin care products because they can be very drying, if you have very oily skin, then you may actually benefit from using a toner that contains alcohol.
Of course, you still need to monitor how your skin responds to anything that you put on it, especially if it contains alcohol, as you could end up stripping too much oil from the skin and irritating it which may then leave it looking red and inflamed and even cause it to produce more oil.
If you do use a toner, try to get one that also offers antibacterial benefits. For example, ingredients such as ginger and willow bark (a natural source of salicylic acid) can help to firm your skin, unblock pores and close them and improve your complexion.
Because acne skin is oilier than most other skin types, it is best to use a moisturizer which is not oil based and does not leave your face feeling greasy when it is applied.
Doing so could lead to excess oil production which will then increase your risk of suffering from outbreaks, especially on the chin and forehead where the skin tends to be naturally very oily.
It is also important that you remember to cleanse your face before you moisturize, because applying a moisturizer on dirty skin can make existing breakouts become worse and you could even end up spreading your acne to other parts of the face.
A good acne moisturizer will leave your face feeling hydrated. If your skin feels dry when you move it, your moisturizer is not adequately hydrating your skin and so you would probably benefit from applying more or using something that contains more moisture or even oil it in.
This is most likely to apply to people who are using other treatments for their acne, such as benzoyl peroxide, which are causing their skin to become drier than normal. In such cases, emu oil may prove to be beneficial.
If you find that you are having difficulty in finding the right moisturizer for your skin, you may not actually need to use one as your skin could already be producing enough sebum to keep itself lubricated.
Alternatively, if you do need to use a moisturizer but are finding that your face is just too oily, keep some blotting paper with you during the day and use it to soak up any excess oil that appears.
Finally, choose a moisturizer that is listed as being non comedogenic. This means that it won’t clog your pores, and so the risk of it making your acne worse should be fairly low.
An exfoliant removes dead skin cells from the top layers of your skin. Doing so helps to reduce the occurrence of clogged pores, and can even make your other cleansing products work better because they will be able to penetrate more deeply into the skin.
For most people who suffer from acne, the face needs to be exfoliated more often than other skin types. Usually, 3-5 times a week should be fine, although pay attention to how your skin reacts and adjust your exfoliation frequency accordingly.
The type of exfoliant that you use can also affect the type of results that you get. If you have not exfoliated before, it is recommended to start with a gentle exfoliant such as an exfoliating pad.
Later, you can then progress to harsher exfoliants, such as those containing crushed nut shells, if you find that you are not getting good results.
Be careful not to exfoliate too often though, as this can cause inflammation (which appears as facial redness) and make your acne worse. If you notice that your skin is becoming very red after exfoliating, you may want to consider using a more gentle product.
Finally, if you have moderate or severe acne then be very careful when using a harsh exfoliant. Even though such exfoliants are likely to give you the best results, they also put you at risk of scarring your face if you accidentally tear open a pimple or a spot.
So if you are concerned about this, you may want to consider the use of an enzyme based exfoliating facial mask.
Razors can be very problematic for males who suffer from acne as they can cut pimples, spread bacteria to other parts of the face and increase the risk of scarring.
So if you do have acne, it is generally best to avoid using a razor as they are just far too risky. Instead, opt for an electric razor and disinfect it with an alcohol wipe after each use.
The environment in which you live or work in can also affect the condition of your skin and how you look after it.
People who live in hot environments for example, may find that they suffer from an increased amount of acne outbreaks due to excess sweating throughout the day as this can make the skin more oily.
If you spend your time outside however, the sterilizing effect of the sun’s rays should help to keep your skin under control by killing surface acne bacteria.
Finally, make sure that you keep your hands away from your face, as touching the face with dirty hands is one of the primary causes of bacteria spreading to other locations.
If you do touch your face often, try to keep an anti-bacterial hand gel with you to keep your hands clean, as will prevent contaminating your face with any germs that you pick up throughout the course of the day.
Allergic Reactions to Products
When choosing an acne skin care product it is important to make sure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients that product contains, as this could obviously make your acne worse.
Unfortunately, the only way to determine if you are allergic to an ingredient is through trial and error. You may, for example, notice that your face becomes worse after using a particular product such as your skin becoming very dry, red or itchy. If this happens, try using another product and see what happens.
Generally, you can reduce the risk of allergic reactions by purchasing products that are made from natural ingredients or have as few artificial ingredients as possible.
Be warned however, that such products may be more expensive than regular products, but if they are more effective at helping to control your acne, then the extra expense will be worth it.
How quickly you can determine whether a product is good for your skin or not can vary. Sometimes for example, you may notice that your skin becomes noticeably worse after a few days, while in other cases, it may take weeks.
This is why for any new product which you are using for the first time, you should closely monitor how your skin is reacting so that you can quickly discontinue the use of anything which isn’t working well or is causing an adverse reaction.
Once you find a product that works well, stick with it and try not to be swayed by adverts promising new and better treatments because there is no point in changing something that already works for you.
If you do want to switch products, try using something from the same brand line as this will help to minimize the risk of suffering an adverse reaction from using a new product.
Skin Care Products to Try
There are lots of different acne skin care and treatment products available on the market to choose from. The good news is that this means you are bound to find something which helps to make your acne better.
The bad news however, is that with so many different products to choose from, finding a product that works for your unique skin type could take a very long time and cost you a lot of money in the process.
To help make things a bit easier, we have listed some of the most popular products for you below.
Note: You don’t have to get the exact same brands as shown below, as there are many different products which will do the same or similar thing.
Astara Blue Flame Purification Mask
This purification mask is designed to soothe and refresh your face which can be helpful if you have itchy or inflamed acne. It also claims to open up your pores whilst cleansing the face and reducing the occurrence of future breakouts.
This product is designed to be used for 15 minutes, so you will need to set aside some time to benefit from it.
PhytoMe Acne Gel
This product, also called Derma Med PhytoCort Acne gel, is a topical gel that is rubbed on the surface of the skin. It is designed to help get rid of pimples and prevent new pimples from occurring in the future.
Neutrogena Cooling Gel Mask
The Neutrogena cooling mask is designed to cool and refresh your face, whilst cleaning it and opening up your pores at the same time. This should help to keep your acne from flaring up, and also reduce the occurrence of future breakouts.
Acne Dry Spot Treatment
An acne dry spot treatment is designed to be applied to pimples or inflamed areas before going to bed. This will help to make pimples smaller and also make the skin less inflamed for the following morning.
Biore Blemish Bomb
This product is designed to be used for a whole host of skin complaints, although it is particularly useful for inflamed skin and pimple breakouts.
It is a liquid that is applied over the affected area, which is then left to dry forming a protective covering over it. In the morning this coating is then peeled away, and you should notice an improvement in the treated skin.
pHisoderm 4-Way Daily Cleanser
This is quite a convenient product to use because it is a 4-in-1 that works as a toner, cleanser and pimple reducer/preventer.
It is designed to be applied twice a day and it will help to clear up existing spots, prevent the occurrence of new spots and unclog your pores. You should start noticing results within a few weeks.
This product is suitable for all skin types and so won’t over dry your skin or cause irritation.
DDF BP Gel 5% Using Tea Tree Oil
This product harnesses the natural antibacterial properties of tea tree oil combined with benzoyl peroxide to get rid of pimples and reduce the likelihood of getting more in the future.
Although this product can be very effective at controlling acne and preventing breakouts, it may cause the skin to become overly dry due to the presence of benzoyl peroxide.
Derma Clear is another dual acting product. It claims to cleanse your skin whilst at the same time treating pimples and reducing the rate at which they reappear.
Natural & Home Acne Remedies
Although by no means a cure for acne, natural and home remedies are used by thousands of people throughout the world alongside over the counter treatments to help control and manage their acne.
Below you will find listed some of the most effective remedies that you can start using immediately.
Water plays many important roles in the body, one of which is to flush toxins away. If you have a lot of toxins in the body, they will circulate through your circulatory and lymph systems where they will then have a negative impact on the health and appearance of your skin.
Water is also important for hydrating the body, and this is especially important when it comes to your skin. As if your skin is dehydrated, the skin will naturally try to secrete more oils in order to keep itself moist.
You can therefore help to reduce excess skin oil secretions by ensuring that you drink plenty of water throughout the day so that your body and skin are kept properly hydrated.
Quit Your Bad Habits
Most people who suffer from acne suffer from localized acne that is confined to specific regions of the face.
However, if you squeeze your pimples or rub them and then touch other parts of your face, you are likely to spread your acne and make it worse.
The same can happen if you touch your face a lot throughout the day, such as when you rub your chin or put your hands around your mouth area.
If you do find yourself touching your face a lot throughout the day, wash your face as soon as you get home.
Alternatively, you may want to try using a disinfecting hand gel to keep your hands clean so that you reduce the bacteria you transfer to the face when you touch it.
Eat The Right Foods
Studies have shown that certain compounds found in fresh fruits and vegetables play an important role in the formation and regulation of skin sebum.
Other foods, however, mainly those you would think of as junk foods, can cause an increase in skin oil secretions making you more prone to acne or making your acne worse.
So the next time that you eat something, just remember that whatever it contains, whether good or bad, it will eventually end up influencing the health of your skin somehow.
Use Rose Water
Rosewater is a light and natural antiseptic that can be used to cleanse your skin without stripping it of its natural oils. Cleansing your face on a regular basis will help to keep your skin clean and reduce the occurrence of blocked skin pores which could result in acne.
In addition, the natural antiseptic properties of rose water will also help to keep the numbers of acne bacteria down, thereby helping to reduce skin inflammation caused by existing acne infections and reduce the rate at which new infections occur.
Alternatively, witch hazel can be used instead of rose water as it offers similar benefits.
Don’t Use Products Containing Alcohol
Even though alcohol can be used to disinfect your skin and improve the ability of other products to penetrate the skin, alcohol also tends to strip the skin of its natural oils.
This can cause your skin to become overly dry, which, in turn, will cause your skin to secrete more oil to moisturize itself. Over time, this can result in overly oily skin and increased outbreaks of acne.
If you find that you get good results from using alcohol containing products, try to pick products that list alcohol further down on the label as this indicates the relative amount of alcohol that product contains.
Remove Make-up Before Bed
If you wear makeup during the day, or wear makeup before you go out with your friends, always be sure to properly wash and cleanse your face before going to bed. If you go to bed with a dirty face, or with your makeup still on, you increase your risk of suffering from blocked pores and breakouts.
In addition, make sure that the cosmetic products you use are designed for your skin type. If you use the wrong type of cosmetic, it could end up drying your skin or make it overly oily, which again, will increase your risk of suffering from acne breakouts.
Treat Outbreaks Quickly
If you see a red pimple on your face, it means that your pores have become infected with bacteria which are now causing inflammation underneath the skin. To reduce this inflammation, and thus the redness of the pimple, try applying ice to the affected area to lessen the swelling.
It is also a good idea to use a topical antibacterial lotion to try to kill the bacteria which are causing the inflammation. The sooner you can treat an inflamed pimple, the less severe it will become and the quicker it will heal.
Use Aloe Vera
If you have sore or irritated skin as a result of your acne, try applying fresh aloe vera gel directly to the affected area.
Aloe vera has wonderful soothing properties which allow it to bring immediate relief to sore skin, and it is also a mild antiseptic which makes it beneficial for controlling bacteria levels.
The soothing action of aloe vera will also help to prevent existing acne outbreaks from getting worse. This is because aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory, which means that it can be very beneficial for reducing redness of the skin. This in turn should speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of developing an acne scar.
An alternative to using aloe vera is to mash-up a cucumber and apply it to your face as a mask. This is also a very soothing and cooling treatment which can be great to use if your skin is sore or itchy.
Identify Food Intolerance
A food intolerance or sensitivity can cause your skin to become inflamed, which may then aggravate acne and make it worse. The best way to identify a food intolerance is to pay attention to how your skin reacts after you eat something by keeping a food diary.
To do this, it is recommended to eat similar foods for the first few weeks and then gradually reintroduce other types of foods. This will make things a lot simpler when you try to identify the foods that you should avoid.
Alternatively, there are also food intolerance tests that can be purchased to provide you with quicker results.
Change Your Bedding
If you suffer from acne, your bedding is likely to become contaminated with bacteria much more quickly than with people who do not have acne. This is especially true if you have acne on your back or chest.
If you don’t change your bedding on a regular basis, you therefore put yourself at an increased risk of spreading acne to other regions of the face or body.
So try to make a habit of changing your bedding at least once a week, or more often if you notice that your sheets/pillow covers are visibly dirty/oily from burst pustules.
Put Toothpaste on Your Pimples
Toothpaste has been a long and favored treatment for reducing the size of pimples and for treating acne breakouts.
To use toothpaste as an acne treatment, simply dab a bit onto a pimple and allow it to dry. Ideally, this should be done before going to bed so that you can leave it on all night long.
In the morning when you wake up, the toothpaste will probably have been rubbed off during sleep. If not, just give it a quick rinse and it will come off very easily.
Toothpaste helps to reduce pimple breakouts by drying the skin and reducing bacteria levels in the affected area via the fluoride that it contains.
Scrub With Salt
Salt can be used as a natural exfoliant, and it also helps to disinfect your skin. To make your own exfoliant, mix some salt with honey and then gently rub it on your face. An alternative to using salt is sugar, and this can be made in the same way as you would with salt.
Cleanse With Vinegar
Vinegar can be used as a natural acne cleanser to remove dirt, oil and bacteria from the skin.
To use, apply vinegar to a piece of cotton and cleanse your face as you would do with a normal cleanser. You can either wash the vinegar off your face afterwards, or leave in on for 10-15 minutes extra for added benefit.
You may want to do this treatment at night however, because the smell of vinegar can linger on for a few hours even after you have washed it off.
If you have apple cider vinegar, you can try drinking some with water, as some people have reported that this helped them to control their acne.
Have a Fruit Enzyme Mask
Fruit contains naturally occurring acids and enzymes, which if applied to the skin, can have a gentle exfoliating effect. Fruit acids can also help to disinfect your skin and even out your skin tone.
Some of the fruits which you can use as natural acne exfoliants are strawberries, lemon and papaya. Simply cut the fruit in half and rub the juices on your face, leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash it off.
Some juices, such as lemon juice, can be left on the face overnight. However, lemon juice can also lighten the skin and make it more sensitive to sunlight. So be careful how often you use it, and make sure that you wash your face properly when you are finished.
Alternatively, you can make a natural fruit face mask by mashing up a fruit and mixing it with some honey before applying it to your face.
Drink Herbal Tea
Certain herbal teas such as nettle, spearmint, peppermint and green tea can reduce oil secretions and help to control acne breakouts.
It is recommended to drink 2-3 cups of pure herbal tea a day to get noticeable effects. For best results, allow the tea to brew until it reaches a temperature that can be comfortably drunk.
These herbs can also be used externally. For example, peppermint soap can be used directly on the face to help control excess oil buildup.
Use a Topical Zinc Cream
Zinc can be found in antiseptic creams and helps to kill acne causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, reduce oil secretion and speed up healing.
Get Some Sunlight
Exposing your skin to the ultraviolet rays of the sun has a disinfecting effect on the skin, as sunlight kills bacteria. 10-15 minutes a day should be all you need.
In addition to improving your acne, you will also help to top up your vitamin D levels which is important for maintaining a healthy immune system.
With an improved immune system, you will be more resistant to developing infections and be better able to deal with them when they occur.
Use Natural Moisturizers
Emu oil and jojoba oil are both very moisturizing for the skin. You may want to try using these as an alternative to artificial face creams if your skin is very dry after using a benzoyl peroxide based treatment.
Apply Tea Tree Oil to Spots
Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic and is one of the few essential oils that can be applied undiluted to the skin. It makes an excellent spot treatment, but is most effective when applied to a newly emerging spot.
Use Sulfur Based Products
Sulfur helps to unclog the pores in your skin whilst also removing acne bacteria. It can be found in many over the counter acne treatments.
Frequent exercise helps to increase your metabolism, oxygenates the cells in your body and makes you sweat. Sweating is important because it helps to flush out your pores, thereby helping them to normalize and avoid being clogged.
Another major benefit of exercise is that it gets your lymph system moving, which depends on physical activity to cleanse itself. If you don’t move often and spend most of the day sitting or lying down, your lymph system becomes clogged with toxins and waste which then has a negative impact on your health.
Try to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes each day, ideally, working up a sweat. After you have finished, be sure to wash your face because exercise makes your skin’s oil flow which could cause your pores to clog if not removed.
When you are stressed inflammation is created in the body and your immune system becomes weakened, this then causes acne to become active and flare up.
It is important to remember that stress also depletes the body of B vitamins, and so B vitamins should be taken on a daily basis especially if you are normally under a lot of stress.
Try to find a way to de-stress each day, such as through meditation, and your acne will be a lot easier to control and flare-up less often.
Beneficial Vitamin & Health Supplements
The body requires vitamins and minerals in order for it to function at an optimal level.
Unfortunately however, much of the food we eat today is of such poor quality that we have become deficient in many of these essential nutrients. As a result, many people now use supplements to ensure that their body gets what it needs.
Supplements however, are not a cure for acne, but they could help to improve the health and appearance of your skin by strengthening your immune system and speeding up wound healing.
Below are listed some supplements that you might want to try as they can help to make your acne easier to manage and live with.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids, such as omega 3, are mainly found in oily fish, although they can also be found in some seeds such as flaxseed.
As essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body, you need a constant daily supply. They are known to be good for skin in addition to helping regulate hormonal levels and therefore sebum production.
Acidophilus naturally grows in your intestinal tract, and is known as a “good bacteria” because it helps you to better digest food. The trouble is, acidophilus can easily be destroyed by eating an unhealthy diet, such as one that is high in sugar, caffeine or alcohol.
Acidophilus supplements can help to keep your intestines healthy, and prevent them from becoming overgrown by bad bacteria which limit the nutrients that you absorb from food.
B vitamins are water-soluble which means that you need a constant supply each day. B vitamins are best taken in a natural supplement, such as brewers yeast, and are one of the best things that you can take for promoting overall good health.
B vitamins also are also depleted when you are stressed, and stress is well-known to cause acne to flare up. So if you live a stressful lifestyle, you may need to take extra B vitamins to compensate for what you lose.
Zinc regulates hormone levels, aids in the healing of tissue and helps to prevent scaring. Zinc is also required for the healthy functioning of your oil-producing glands so that they don’t over secrete sebum.
Zinc should be taken every other day because taking too much can deplete other nutrients from the body.
If you eat lots of fruit and vegetables each day then you are already getting enough fiber.
Fiber helps to assist the passage of food through the body, which in turn, helps to keep your intestines healthy by preventing the accumulation of toxins.
Digestive enzymes can be very beneficial in promoting overall general good health. Normally, the body has enough enzymes to digest what you eat, but because people don’t chew their food enough and eat lots of dead processed enzyme deficient foods, the body can have a hard time digesting the food that it receives.
By taking digestive enzymes you take this extra burden off your body, which then allows it to direct its energy inwards towards healing.
The result is a healthier intestinal system, healthier body and increased energy levels. In addition, because you will now be digesting your food better, your body will also receive more nutrients from what you eat thereby helping to increase your level of health even more.
Topical Acne Medications
Topical medications or treatments are designed to be used on the surface of the skin and applied directly to the areas that are affected by acne. They work to cleanse the skin, kill bacteria and reduce the likelihood of future breakouts from occurring.
One of the main advantages of using topical acne medications, is that unlike antibiotics, there is minimal risk of bacteria becoming resistant to treatment. This means that you can safely use the same topical over and over again, and still get the same results as when you first started using it.
However, some people notice that their skin becomes drier after using a topical medication, and this if this occurs, you may either have to discontinue using that medication or alter your skin care routine such as by switching to a more moisture rich moisturizer.
But for most people, this trade-off is more than worth it, especially if it means that they can keep their acne under control and remain relatively blemish free.
Stick with what works
Although there are now many different kinds of acne medications on the market, only a few have been shown to be effective at treating acne.
So rather than experiment with new and unproven treatments, stick with what is known to work as those are likely to give you the best results.
As new acne treatments prove themselves to be worthwhile, and their side-effects become known, you can always switch treatments at a later date if you feel the need to do so.
The medications and treatments that have been shown to be of value in helping acne sufferers are listed below.
Retinoid Based Treatments
Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A, and the most common retinoids that you will find in topical acne medications are adapalene (Differin), tretinoin (Retin-A) and tazarotene (Tazorac/Avage/Zorac).
Retinoids work much like an exfoliator by removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin and preventing the formation of microcomedones (blocked or plugged pores) in which acne bacteria can live and multiply.
This can be useful for treating whiteheads and blackheads, as well as allowing other topical treatments, such as acne antibiotics, to penetrate the skin better.
Topical retinoids are generally quite safe to use, although in some people they may cause a reddening of the skin. Topical retinoids can also increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight by thinning the skin, and so you should not expose your skin to the sun directly after treating it.
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most popular and effective topical acne medications currently available on the market.
It is usually applied as a cream to affected areas of the skin in the morning and at night, where it will then kill acne causing bacteria. This can reduce the severity of pimple sizes, reduce skin inflammation caused by bacteria and minimize future outbreaks.
Although benzoyl peroxide is very effective at treating acne, one of its major drawbacks is that it tends to be very drying to the skin.
If used as directed however, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. But if you overuse this product then your skin may become uncomfortably dry.
Tea tree oil is sometimes used as a natural alternative to benzoyl peroxide as both are effective at killing acne bacteria, but benzoyl peroxide works faster.
Salicylic acid is used in many exfoliation products because it helps to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Salicylic acid may be used as a primary treatment for mild acne, but for more severe cases, it is generally used in combination with other products.
Topical acne antibiotics are designed to be applied directly to acne affected areas where they then kill acne bacteria. This can help to reduce the number of bacteria on the skin, and therefore, should also help you to control and reduce your acne outbreaks.
Topical antibiotics are generally considered to be a second line treatment, and as such, only tend to be used if your acne fails to respond to more conventional treatments such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
However, you won’t be able to use antibiotics to treat your acne forever, because eventually, the acne bacteria will develop a resistance which then renders the antibiotic ineffective.
There are several topical antibiotics that can be used to treat acne, the most effective of which are listed below.
Clindamycin is the most commonly used topical antibiotic for acne. It can be found as a gel, lotion or solution and is designed to be applied to acne affected areas in the morning and at night with the aim of reducing the size of pimples and minimizing inflammation of the skin.
Clindamycin can stop acne infections that do not respond to benzoyl peroxide treatments, so this antibiotic is predominantly used for treating very aggressive types of acne.
In general, most people respond fairly well to clindamycin treatments, however, some may develop a skin irritation and will have to discontinue their treatment. In such cases, different antibiotics can be tried or a new type of treatment can be pursued entirely.
If you suffer an adverse reaction to clindamycin, or it is not effective in controlling your acne, then you may want to try erythromycin. This antibiotic is also available as a gel, lotion or solution and so it can be easily applied to acne affected areas.
As with clindamycin, erythromycin is designed to be applied twice a day in the morning and at night.
Erythromycin may cause the skin to become irritated in some people, which will then result in the treatment being discontinued and another antibiotic or treatment used instead.
Tetracycline is a lesser used topical acne antibiotic, as it has a higher risk of causing adverse reactions than what can occur with clindamycin or erythromycin usage. This may be because tetracycline contains sulfur and sodium extracts, which, in some people, can cause allergic reactions.
However, even if you don’t suffer an allergic reaction to tetracycline, the fact that using this antibiotic results in a yellow staining of the skin makes it unsuitable for treating the face or other visible parts of the body.
As a result, tetracycline tends only to be used for treating acne which has not responded well to other antibiotic treatments.
This topical antibiotic is most commonly used to treat rosacea like acne. It can be applied either one or two times a day depending on the aggressiveness of the acne being treated, and most people tend to respond fairly well it to.
It can, however, cause the skin to become irritated just like the other topical antibiotics can.
Combining topical treatments
For best results, it is recommended to use a skin exfoliator such as salicylic acid or a topical retinoid before using an antibacterial treatment such as benzoyl peroxide or clindamycin.
Antibacterial treatments will be more effective if they are applied to clean skin, as this allows them to penetrate the skin more easily and kill more acne causing bacteria. This is especially true for those bacteria which have already infected the pores of your skin.
In order for these treatments to be effective however, long-term usage is required. So you need to have the discipline, and time, to apply these treatments in the morning and at night on a consistent daily basis.
One of the more recent advancements in treating acne involves the use of laser surgery.
This has several advantages over traditional acne treatments; it does not require the use of special products or medications, it offers permanent results in the treated area and it is effective at treating virtually all forms of acne from mild to severe.
Furthermore, treatment typically involves 3-5 sessions to achieve noticeable results, after which, no more treatment is required unless other acne outbreaks occur.
Acne laser surgery involves the use of a high-powered laser that emits a certain wavelength of light. The laser penetrates the top layers of the skin, targeting acne affected areas underneath it.
When undergoing laser surgery, the patient will be placed in a seated or lying down position and will wear dark goggles to protect their eyes from the laser.
The laser is applied for a fraction of a second to the skin, and if you were to watch the treatment, it would appear as a flash of light from the laser gun similar to a flash going off from a camera.
Because the laser is applied to the skin only briefly, no surface damage is done and no pain is felt by the patient. There may, however, be some discomfort, which some describe like an elastic band being flicked on their skin.
Typically, before undergoing a full treatment session, a test is carried out on a small patch of skin. This is done to see how your skin reacts to the laser, and can also be used to determine what type of laser to use for the full treatment.
How long does laser treatment take?
An average treatment session lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour, but this depends on how much acne needs to be treated and the type of treatment that you are having done.
Most people will require 2-3 sessions, with one month rest between sessions, although some people may require up to five sessions.
In the large majority of cases, acne laser treatment stops existing acne patches from getting any worse and will eventually heal them completely. This can be very helpful for sufferers of cystic acne, as it greatly reduces the likelihood of scars developing in the future.
After your treatment has been completed, the treated areas will appear very red for one or two days. After which, the redness will go away and the skin will return back to its normal color. The skin will not be painful, although it may be slightly tender looking almost like a sunburn.
How does acne laser treatment work?
The laser used for treating acne penetrates the layer beneath the skin and has several effects.
Most notably, it kills acne bacteria in hard to reach areas of the skin which may be inaccessible using traditional cleansing methods. It can also reduce oil production from the skin by damaging the sebaceous glands in addition to reducing inflammation of acne infected areas.
Note: To kill acne bacteria, a Blu/Blue light, Pulsed Dye or Q-switched laser treatment can be used. To reduce the size of sebaceous glands, and thus reduce sebum production, an Aramis or Smoothbeam laser treatment can be used.
Most dermatologists use a combination of treatments on the their patient to target the sebaceous glands and kill the acne bacteria within them.
Acne laser treatment has been used very successfully for many years now, and the majority of people experience no adverse side effects.
Some possible side effects include the damage of hair follicles which then prevents hair regrowth, hyperpigmentation and increased skin sensitivity to the sun. These side effects however, are fairly minimal if you consider some of the side effects that are associated with acne medications.
Oral Acne Antibiotics & Medications
Internal antibiotics can produce very noticeable improvements in how your acne looks, but they can also result in some very unpleasant side-effects.
This is because unlike topical treatments which are applied only to affected areas of the skin, oral treatments have systemic effects (i.e., body wide effects) and so the chance of you experiencing an adverse reaction becomes much more likely.
As a result, oral treatments tend only to be used as a last resort and when treating very severe forms of acne such as cystic acne.
Below are some of the most commonly used oral antibiotics and medications for treating acne.
Tetracycline has been a long prescribed internal antibiotic treatment that is effective for moderate to severe acne. It is taken in doses of 500-1000 mg per day, but as your acne improves, your dose will gradually be reduced.
Side effects associated with tetracycline usage include thinning bones, yellow staining of teeth, increased skin sun sensitivity and nausea.
Minocycline and Doxycycline are derivatives of tetracycline. Both drugs tend to achieve higher levels of tissue saturation than tetracycline which can make them more effective at treating acne, especially inflammatory acne.
Some of the side effects associated with the usage of these drugs include; sore throat, heart burn, increased skin sun sensitivity, skin pigmentation and liver damage.
Erythromycin tends to cause fewer side effects than other types of antibiotics prescribed for acne. It has antibacterial and inflammatory action, and is effective for people with moderate to severe acne.
Corticosteroids are a class of steroid hormones that are prescribed for severe cases of acne.
However, since long-term usage of steroids can cause many serious, and often permanent, health effects, corticosteroids are only prescribed for short-term usage.
Isotretinoin, also known as Accutane or Roaccutane, is a very effective treatment for acne. It is taken in tablet form twice a day for 20 weeks, after which an assessment is made as to what further treatment should be taken.
Accutane’s main course of action is to reduce oil secretions from the skin. This subsequently reduces the rate at which the pores of the skin can become clogged, which then decreases the incidence of future acne breakouts and speeds up the healing of existing breakouts.
In addition, Accutane also reduces the rate at which the skin sheds. This has the effect of slowing down the build up of dead skin cells which can cause pores to become blocked.
Accutane has been linked with many undesirable side effects such as depression, liver damage, dry mouth, dry skin, muscle problems, inflammatory bowel disease, inflammation of the eyes and mouth and erectile dysfunction. As Accutane may also cause birth defects, it should not be used by pregnant women who have acne.
Treatments For Acne Scars
People who suffer from acne almost always have some kind of scarring on their face or body. This occurs as a result of breakouts in the skin which later heal with too much connective tissue that has not been broken down during the healing process.
Typically, acne scars appear as reddish discolorations of the skin and can be quite deep in some cases. This is especially true if you suffer from severe or aggressive acne. In which case, scarring can be very noticeable.
Fortunately, for most sufferers, acne scarring tends to be fairly minimal and gradually becomes less noticeable with age. So not everyone will require treatment.
How to Prevent Scarring
The best way to prevent scarring, apart from not picking at your spots, is to find an effective treatment for your acne. The better you are able to control your outbreaks, the less outbreaks you will have and so the lower your risk of scarring will be.
Another way to reduce your risk of acne scarring is to speed up the healing process of the skin. This is because the faster your skin heals, the less time that connective tissue will have to overgrow and leave a scar.
Although there are various methods that dermatologists can use to speed up skin healing, two treatments tend to be the most popular: Tretinoin and hydroxy acids.
Tretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A. It helps to speed up the healing process of the skin, reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of scars forming.
2) Hydroxy acids
Alpha and Beta Hydroxy acids have a similar effect to Tretinoin. They speed up the healing process of the skin and reduce your risk of scarring.
The following treatments have been proven to be effective for reducing the appearance of acne scars.
Dermal fillers are substances that are injected or placed underneath the skin. They are designed to be used predominantly for treating depressed scars.
A common dermal filler that is used for acne scars is collagen. Although it should be noted that this is not a permanent treatment, and so you will require injections every 3-6 months to maintain your results.
Laser skin resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing involves the use of a high-powered laser to destroy the top layers of skin. Normally, this is done around the edge of a scar so that it blends in with the surrounding skin.
Laser skin resurfacing, although more expensive than other treatments, can be a very effective and permanent way to treat facial scarring.
Punch excision treatment
If you have very deep scars that are not suitable for laser resurfacing, your scar may be cut out of the skin and the edges sown back together. This however, leaves a scar of its own, but it can be preferable to having a larger and more visible scar.
Dealing With Different Types of Scars
The type of scar that you would like to remove or conceal will largely determine the type of treatment that you receive.
This is something that your dermatologist or doctor will discuss with you, but to give you a rough idea of what to expect, some of the most common treatments for the different types of acne scars are listed below.
Keloid scars are caused by increased tissue formation, as a result of the body producing too much collagen which then forms into a fibrous red-brown lump. Keloid scars are most common in people of color, although some people can be genetically predisposed to them.
Treatment of keloid scars can be difficult, since cutting them out only tends to create another keloid scar. Your best bet is to speak with a dermatologist, who may then recommend cortisone injections to flatten the scar and reduce the redness.
These scars are areas of depressed skin and usually have smooth edges. However, it is also possible to have a scar with ragged or uneven edges.
To treat boxcar or rolling scars, microdermabrasion can be used to soften their appearance as can laser skin resurfacing. To help decrease the size of the depression, the scar can also be treated with an injection that contains a filler to temporarily bulk up the scar.
Ice Pick Scar
Ice pick scars are small deep holes with ragged edges. Over time they may also get deeper and larger. To remove such scars usually requires minor cosmetic surgery to either sew them up or to fill the hole with skin tissue that has been removed from another part of the body.
Such treatments are usually quite effective, although the treatment itself may leave smaller scarring patches on the surface of the skin. In the majority of cases however, these should be fairly minor and can themselves to treated to make them less visible.
Follicular Macular Atrophy
These acne scars tend to resemble whiteheads or a red rash. They are most commonly found on the back and chest and tend to cover quite large areas of skin.
As a result, long multiple pulse-dye laser treatment sessions will usually be required in order to obtain noticeable results.