Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the world. One study shows nearly 85 percent of young adults suffer periodic acne breakouts. While it is most commonly associated with younger patients, adults can also suffer from acne as well. There are many different methods to treat acne. Some involve using at home remedies and ingredients, while others involve cosmetic products.
Acne forms when the tiny holes in your skin, known as pores, become clogged. The most common causes are oil, bacteria, dirt and dead skin cells. This causes small blemishes, such as pimples and zits to form on your skin. Repeatedly getting these blemishes results in acne breakouts. Notable acne symptoms include discoloration, redness, swelling and inflammation. It is most common along the face and neck, but can also form along the back, shoulders and chest. Fortunately, acne does not cause any serious health problems. However, many patients struggle with acne because the blemishes damage their self-esteem.
Risk Factors for Developing Acne
Oil and bacteria buildups are the most common causes of acne, but there are additional risk factors. One of the reasons young adults are more likely to experience acne breakouts is due to hormonal changes. Young adults going through puberty frequently develop acne, but it can also occur with pregnant women.
Stress is another factor that contributes to acne development. This is because if you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to develop acne. Your medical history also impacts whether you get acne breakouts.
There are also several lifestyle choices that contribute to acne. Using beauty products, most notably cleaners, creams and moisturizers with high oil content can clog your pores. There are also some medications, including lithium and birth control that can cause acne breakouts. Individuals who smoke are more likely to develop acne as well.
Types of Acnes
There are several categories of acne. Some types of acne share the same symptoms and treatment options. The two most common types of acne are white and black heads. Blackheads are the least severe, occurring when only a portion of your pores are clogged. This leads to black spots developing along the head of your pore, which is at the surface of your skin. Whiteheads occur when all of your pore, including the top, is clogged, creating a white spot. Products containing sulfur, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are both effective at treating white and blackheads. Retinoids, derived from vitamin A, can also help unclog your pores.
Another type of acne is papules. This form of acne manifests as patches of small red bumps along the skin. Papules are formed when your pores are clogged and mix with bacteria. Papules are more common in young adults and pregnant women. It is best treated with products containing benzoyl peroxide.
Pustules are similar to papules, but the bumps are a mixture of red and white. While they can occur on your face, they also manifest along the chest and back. Pustules form when your blocked pores are infected. Hormonal changes can also cause small patches of pustules to appear. In addition to standard treatments, you can also use antibiotics to clear out bacteria.
When to see a Dermatologist
Most acne treatment is available over the counter, but there are a few prescription options as well. In order to get a prescription, you must first see a doctor. Doctors who specialize in skin conditions are dermatologists. In most cases, you do not need to see a dermatologist for acne. However, if your acne persists and traditional products are unable to treat your acne, schedule an appointment with a specialist. You can also see a dermatologist if you have existing damage from an acne outbreak, such as acne scars.
Finally, there are some painful types of acne that form small cysts under the skin, which require a dermatologist to treat. This is known as cystic acne. The cysts are marked by bright red bumps underneath your skin. There are several medications to treat cystic acne, including isotretinoin and spironolactone.
Before trying any cosmetic products, consider making changes to your diet to reduce acne breakouts. If you already suffer from acne, reduce the number of processed meats and refined carbs in your diet. This does not eliminate your acne entirely, but it makes the breakouts less severe and easier to treat. Another option is to limit the amount of milk products in your diet. Another option to reduce acne breakouts is fatty acids, especially omega-3 and 6.
While some dieticians insist vegan or vegetarian diets can also improve acne treatment, there is currently no medical studies supporting these theories. The same is true for probiotics.
Another option to treat acne is home remedies. A popular acne solution is apple cider vinegar. This is because it is rich in organic acids commonly used to eliminate bacteria. You can apply the apple cider vinegar onto a cotton ball, along with a small amount of water. Use the cotton ball to wipe over your skin. Let it sit for 10 to 20 seconds, then wash the area with water.
Both honey and cinnamon can also be used as acne treatments. These products contain anti-inflammatory properties. Mix in two tablespoons of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon to form a mask paste. Apply the paste to the afflicted area, leaving it for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the paste by washing it off.
There are many cosmetic companies, such as Neutrogena and Aveeno, producing acne treatments. Other generic products advertise the ingredients over the brand name. While there are many options to choose from, you can narrow the selection based on the ingredients.
Salicylic acid is one of the most effective ingredients to combat acne. The majority of washes and spot treatments use salicylic acid to reduce swelling and clean out your pores. It is even included in most treatments for more severe cystic breakouts. Another ingredient is glycolic acid, which exfoliates your skin, getting rid of dead cells that would clog your pores.
Most creams and cleansing treatments feature benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient clears out your pores and helps keep your skin moisturized. If you have sensitive skin, consider retinaldehyde as an alternative.