Acid for Acne
Acne is a very common skin problem, especially among teenagers. Acne cannot be cured and it eventually resolves on its own, but almost every case of acne can be controlled, according to the American Academy of Dermatology or AAD. Most mild to moderate cases can be managed with topical treatment and a few substances defined as acids are beneficial for this purpose.
Acne typically begins with excessive production of skin oil that clogs pores. Blocked pores cause the non-inflammatory blemishes whiteheads and blackheads and also lead to the multiplication of anaerobic bacteria that cause inflammatory acne. Inflammatory acne is characterized by small and large pimples that can be red and sore and more severe cases of cysts and nodules deep under the skin.
Glycolic acid and salicylic acid are included in many over-the-counter skin care products. Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane, while salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid derived from fruit. The substances help dead skin cells slough away and open pores, making these acids effective for treating non-inflammatory acne. A study published in the January 2008 issue of "Dermatologic Surgery" found that a 30 percent-strength glycolic acid peel and a 30 percent-strength salicylic acid peel both were significantly effective for treating acne.
While you may prefer to treat acne on your own, the AAD notes some good reasons for consulting a dermatologist for advice and possibly prescription medication. Consider going to a doctor if none of the remedies you've tried have worked, if you're starting to see scars or changes in pigmentation after blemishes clear or if you have red, painful pus-filled blemishes in addition to whiteheads and blackheads. Azelaic acid is a prescription topical medication that could help.
Azelaic acid is a natural substance produced by a yeast that lives on normal skin. Like salicylic acid and glycolic acid, azelaic acid keeps skin pores clear, but it also stops the growth of acne-causing bacteria and reduces inflammation, according to MayoClinic.com. This makes it useful for treating both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. In addition, azelaic acid is effective for minimizing dark spots that some people with dark skin develop when blemishes clear.
All the acid substances for treating acne can cause skin irritation. Salicylic acid and glycolic acid may cause temporary irritation, redness and stinging. Azelaic acid may cause these effects and also burning sensations, itching and peeling. Rarely, azelaic acid use may lead to lightening of treated areas on dark skin, but usually not lighter than normal skin color, according to MayoClinic.com.
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