Honest Conversations About Acne

Acne is one of the most irritating skin conditions for both adolescents and adults. The fact that it mainly affects your face makes it hard to ignore. Every time you look at yourself in the mirror you are reminded that there are several little hills of pus developing on your face. Another thing about acne that makes people lose their sanity is that no one available treatment works for everybody.

Even more irritating are the ridiculous treatments that some people claim are effective. For instance, rubbing garlic on your face and applying cooked oatmeal masks are some of the most ineffective acne treatments available.

Let us talk about what actually works

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. Acne is caused by overproduction of cells and oil inside a skin follicle as a response to hormonal shifts during puberty or before the menstrual cycle just before menopause.

The over produced cells block the opening of a skin pore and this causes the follicle under the pore to swell. This makes it a very good environment for bacteria to grow, which results in the formation of pimples, lesions filled with pus, whiteheads or blackheads.

A common misconception is that letting acne run its course is the best and safest way to deal with the condition. The problem with this kind of thinking is that it does not consider the fact that dark spots and ugly permanent scars can form on the skin if acne is left untreated. There is also the obvious fact that acne treatment helps restore confidence on the person who is affected.

Acne treatments can in looked at in two ways. There are those that work by killing bacteria that cause inflammation while others work by removing excess oil from the skin. Over-the-counter acne products that come in form of leave-on products, gels, lotions and treatments work by killing bacteria and removing excess oil. The common ingredients in these products include:

  1. Sulfur– Usually mixed with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid and it helps remove dead skin cells and clear excess oil. Sulfur also suppresses the bacteria that cause acne.
  2. Salicylic acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid)– It is the ingredient that cause the mild stinging sensation when you apply OTC products and it works by preventing skin pores from getting blocked.
  3. Alphahydroxy acids-Produced from sugary fruits and help reduce inflammation and remove dead skin cells. It sometimes makes people have dry skin if used twice a day.
  4. Benzoyl Peroxide– It is very effective in killing bacteria that cause acne and helps remove excess oil from the skin. It should be used with other bacteria killing agents because it tends to lose its effectiveness after some time. It is found in face wipes, creams, gels and others.

If you prefer to avoid using the above chemicals to control your acne, you can always try the variety of natural treatments available. Some of the most common natural treatments are:

  1. Zinc– It is taken orally and helps reduce bumps and redness caused by acne inflammation. It is an ingredient often added to lotions and creams that help treat acne.
  2. Tea Tree oil– is used topically and works more slowly compared to most OTC products. Tea tree oil helps kill bacteria that cause acne.
  3. Aloe Vera– Studies show that aloe vera increases the effectiveness of tretinoin, which is an acne drug.

Other natural acne treatments include green tea, extract, brewers’ yeast, azelaic acid and alpha hydroxy acid. There is still more research required before we can actually point out how effective these treatments are.

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