Acne Prevention & Treatment
Acne is a common but frustrating skin condition. Eighty-five percent of people get it at some point in life, Canadian physicians Dr. Jasdeep Sharma and Dr. Jennifer Klotz state, with most cases starting in adolescence. It may clear up after the teenage years or it may persist into adulthood. There are ways to prevent acne and to reduce the duration of outbreaks with appropriate treatment.
Acne is a skin condition in which pimples break out on the face and sometimes on other areas such as the chest or back. The Mayo Clinic explains that the pimples happen when when oil glands in the skin are overproductive and skin cells shed irregularly, blocking hair follicles. Bacteria may build up in the area and cause more irritation.
There are many myths about acne prevention. For example, it is often said to be caused by greasy foods, chocolate or poor personal hygiene. These beliefs have all been debunked, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), so avoiding french fries and candy or scrubbing your face frequently will not help. Vigorous face washing can actually worsen the inflammation. Gentle face washing once a day with a mild soap is the best prevention. Make-up wearers can prevent pimples by wearing noncomedogenic cosmetics, which do not plug hair follicles, and thoroughly washing them off every evening.
Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are two common home treatments for acne. They are available in pads, gels, creams and other products sold at pharmacies and other retailers. They Mayo Clinic explains they are effective for mild acne cases, although they can initially dry out skin and cause flaking. This usually improves with continued use of the product.
Doctors have a variety of prescription options for treating acne that does not clear up after home treatment, the AAD advises. Typical treatments include oral antibiotics to eradicate bacteria, stronger topical treatments and a drug called isotretinoin. The Mayo Clinic states that isotretinoin is usually reserved for the worst cases of cystic acne because of potential physical and mental side effects, including depression and suicide.
Untreated acne, particularly the cystic variety, can cause permanent scars. Persistent outbreaks that do not respond to home remedies should be evaluated and treated by a physician. Picking, scratching or popping blackheads, whiteheads and other acne-related lesions can also cause scars, the AAD warns. Pimples should not be touched, even if they feel itchy or irritating.
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