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Acne � Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
Acne is a common skin problem for most teens and many adults. Acne occurs when the skin�s follicles become blocked with sebum and dead skin cells. The overproduction of sebum in the skin provides an environment ready for the bacterial overgrowth of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria. This overgrowth of bacteria causes inflammation, leading to inflamed lesions. Acne lesions range in severity from blackheads (open comedo) and whiteheads (closed comedo) to pustules, papules and cysts. Acne generally appears on the face, chest and shoulders, but may also occur on the back, arms, legs, and buttocks.
Why some people get acne and some don�t is not fully known. Factors that are known to be linked to the occurrence of acne are: hormonal activity (puberty, pregnancy), family history, hyperactive sebaceous glands, stress, low skin exfoliation leading to the accumulation of dead skin cells, anything that activates skin inflammation like scratching, bacteria on the skin and the body becoming allergic to this bacteria and use of anabolic steroids.
There are many myths about what causes acne. A common myth is that acne is a result of dirty skin. However, pimples and blackheads are not caused by dirt. Acne is caused by a combination of over-production of skin oil, excess dead skin cells and bacteria. A blackhead is dark in color because it is open to the air and oxidation causes the color change. Respectively, a whitehead is closed to the air and therefore has not noticeable color.
The myth of whether certain foods cause acne is still being debated. Science has not come up with any clear cut answers; however many people will find a connection between the foods they eat and breakouts. Trying to figure out what foods cause acne to become worse is tough, because the outcome of eating a certain food and resulting acne will vary greatly among people. What food causes acne to become worse in one person will not affect another. So what this comes down to is avoiding some of the generally bad foods for your body and putting in more healthy food. So avoid sugary and fatty foods, foods rich in iodine and dairy foods. Add more fruits, vegetables, green tea and meats that contain good essential fats to your diet.
So what can you use to treat your acne? While there is no real cure for acne, managing all the triggering factors is key to keeping acne under control. Those triggers include dead skin cells not exfoliating, excess sebum, P acnes bacteria, and inflammation. Also, the treatments used depend on the severity of the acne.
The first important trigger to control is the bacteria on your skin. Control the harmful bacteria and infections are less likely to start that result in pimples.
To control bacteria, use a topical bactericidal agent like Benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is very effective against P acnes bacteria for many people. Also most tests show that p. acnes do not become resistant to benzoyl peroxide, so if it works for you, it should continue working. Other topical anti-bacterials that can be tried include: tea tree oil for a natural solution, colloidal silver, triclosan, and chlorhexisine gluconate.
Topical antibiotics can be used to control skin bacteria in a more targeted way. Topical antibiotics also usually cause less damage and inflammation to the skin sometimes making them a better choice for people with more sensitive skin. Topical antibiotics are usually as effectual as antibiotics taken orally with fewer side effects. Topical antibiotics include: erythromycin, tetracycline and clindamycin.
Oral antibiotics are effective and good to use when acne is affecting a large part of the body. They can help to get the bacteria under control and then allow topical treatments to take over. Oral antibiotics are easy to use but can have side effects such as colitis, diarrhea, dysbacteriosis. Moreover, long term oral antibiotic treatment is not practical as a bacterial resistance may develop.Oral antibiotics include: erythromycin and tetracycline.
Next, you need to control the production of sebum. Products that control sebum production include topical retinoids such as tretinoin (Retin-A), tazarotene (Tazorac), and adapalen (Differin), and oral retinoinds such as Isotretinoin (Accutane). Both types of Retinoids improve acne by decreasing oil production and altering the lifecycle of epithelial skin cells. Topical retinoids can increase breakouts during the first weeks of treatment and also cause dryness, irritation and sensitivity to sunlight. Oral retinoids are usually used as a last resort because of their side effects.
To keep the follicles and pores from becoming blocked with the oil, dead skin cells and bacteria; exfoliation can help. Salicylic acid is commonly used in acne products and it works as a skin exfoliator. Other AHA�s and BHA can be used for exfoliating acne prone skin. Remember, you are trying to avoid skin irritation, so do not use microdermabrasion scrubs or anything to harsh on your skin. Besides removing dead skin cells, exfoliation can improve the penetration of other topical treatments.
Other options for treating acne can include combination birth control pills, phototherapy using red light or blue light and photodynamic therapy, and laser treatments which have all shown efficacy in the treatment of acne.
The grade and the severity of the acne help to determine what combination of treatments should be used. The objective with acne treatments is to avert skin scarring and psychological distress, and to shorten the time a person is living with acne. Mild acne can first be treated by gently washing the area twice daily with warm water and soap and over the counter products. If you have moderate acne, consult a dermatologist before the acne gets out of hand.
Although acne can be very depressing for those afflicted with it, doctors say that most acne is entirely treatable. Therefore, it is very important to try to resolve acne as soon as you can. With most acne treatments, the acne can become a little worse before improvement occurs, but it is important to stick with the treatment.
Your results can be greatly improved by following these tips:
Use oil-free, non-comedogenic skin care products and cosmetic
Avoid cream based cleansers when you have oily skin
Do not over wash or scrub your face excessively as you do not want to irritate your skin. Excessive washing will not cure acne.
Do not pop, poke, pick, scratch your pimples, whiteheads or black heads. Touching your face will only spread bacteria.
Use a mild cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Switching acne products often will not help. Stick with a product routine for at least one month to see if it works.
If you acne is progressively getting worse, don�t wait, see a doctor.
Eat a healthy diet. Tomatoes, garlic, vitamin C and A are all very good for the skin.
Some natural home remedies:
Apply raw papaya juice to affected skin
Apply cucumber juice to the affected skin.
Good basic skin care is the start to ridding yourself of acne. Then finding the right combination of products, whether over-the-counter or prescription, and sticking with a good routine are crucial to success. The key thing you need to understand before using any acne product though, is that the same products do not work the same for every person. Acne is very manageable and should not be suffered by anyone. Taking care of your skin can make all the difference in the fight to treat pimples and zits.
For more skin care information, visit http://www.better-skin-care.com
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