Acner.org: Acne treatment

Acner.org: Acne treatment

Acne Medications & Solutions

Acne Medications & Solutions

Overview

Acne is a condition where P. acnes bacteria on the skin cause pimples, whiteheads and blackheads to develop on the face. The result of excess hormone production, clogged pores, medications taken or other causes, acne can be a troublesome and sometimes painful cosmetic occurrence. A number of treatments are available both over-the-counter and prescribed as a means to reduce oil and dirt while improving the skin's appearance.

Identification

Acne is chiefly identified by the types of marks occurring on the face. A pimple is a small, red, hill-like lesion on the face that is filled with sebum and dead skin cells. A whitehead is an acne lesion that appears as a white pin dot on the face and occurs when the pore becomes filled with sebum and dirt to the point of bursting. A blackhead appears as a black pin dot and appears when the pore has burst and the dirt and oils are exposed to air, which turns them black. Finally, pustules are painful and large acne lesions that are red and pus-filled and tend to be much larger than their pimple counterparts.

Effects

Failure to treat acne leads to both continued acne and facial scarring. When acne lesions become so large they break the "wall" of the skin's pore, this can result in damage to the underlying layers of collagen in the skin. As a result, a scar is left behind that can resemble a deep or even raised mark on the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treating acne helps reduce the amount of oil found on the skin as well as cosmetically improve a person's appearance. Severe acne has even been associated with emotional problems such as depression, according to the Dermatology Online Journal.

Types

There are a number of acne medications available on the market. For example, creams, gels, medicated pads, face washes, astringents and oral medications have all been used in the treatment of acne. These acne treatment types tend to fall in several categories. Antibiotics prescribed for the treatment of acne, such as erythromycin and tetracycline aim to control acne by killing the P. acnes bacteria linked with causing acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Birth control pills are prescribed to control the hormone swings that can lead to increased oil production and therefore acne development. Most other acne medications aim to encourage sloughing of the pores or skin cell turnover as a means to reduce dead skin cells and sebum that can clog the pores. Examples of these types of medication include benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid and retinols.

Solutions

A generally recommended acne treatment regimen begins with washing the face twice daily with a mild cleanser that removes dirt, oil and impurities for the face. Depending on the type of acne a person has, she may then apply a spot treatment for only a few pimples or an all-over gel to treat a large breakout or numerous whiteheads and blackheads. Exfoliating the skin once per week with a gentle facial scrub can be an additional way to rid the face of excess cells. Facial treatments, such as mud masks or mild lactic acid peels, also may be applied on a weekly basis to improve the skin's appearance.

Expert Insight

Those with acne are often tempted to "pop" a pimple, whitehead or other acne lesion, but DERMADoctor does not recommend this action. Not only does it cause scarring, popping a pimple also can lead to the introduction of new bacteria onto the skin. Other expert advice involves when a person should see a dermatologist for additional treatment. KidsHealth.org recommends seeking professional medical advice when your skin does not respond to over-the-counter treatments or becomes a cosmetic difficulty or embarrassment for you.

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