Acner.org: Acne treatment

Acner.org: Acne treatment

Blackhead and Pimples

Blackhead and Pimples Blackhead and Pimples

Overview

The occasional blackhead or pimple is normal, particularly in teenagers. If blackheads and pimples appear frequently, or are affecting the integrity of the skin, they are considered acne, a condition that may require over-the-counter or prescription treatment. Although acne is not dangerous if it is not treated, the right treatment can prevent acne from occurring and prevent irreversible scarring.

Considerations

Acne is most common in teenagers, notes the Mayo Clinic, because acne can be triggered by hormone changes. Additionally, women may get acne when hormones change due to pregnancy, the start of the menstrual cycle or menopause. Acne doesn't require medical attention in all cases, but may reduce emotional and physical pain associated with acne. A dermatologist, in most cases, can treat moderate to severe acne with prescription acne creams and gels, oral antibiotics and other oral medications.

Types

Blackheads and whiteheads, known medically as comedones, are hair follicles that become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Whiteheads may be invisible while under the skin, except for a small, flesh-colored bump. Once a whitehead reaches the surface, according to the Mayo Clinic, it becomes a blackhead. Blackheads may look like a black, swollen speck. Other types of pimples include papules, small, red bumps caused by infected hair follicles; pustules, which are filled with puss and contain a white tip on the end of the pimple; cysts, which are large and painful pus-filled pimples that scar easily; and nodules, which are painful lumps underneath the skin that are caused by oil buildup underneath the hair follicles.

Misconceptions

Acne is not caused by eating chocolate or fried foods. Additionally, popping pimples is not a good way to get rid of acne, states FamilyDoctor.org, a site run by the American Academy of Family Physicians, because it can cause scarring and spreads bacteria. Stress does not cause acne, and washing your face more often will not cure acne. Furthermore, getting a tan does not cause acne to go away in the long run. Although having a tan may make skin look more even temporarily, as soon as the tan goes away, the acne will return.

Prevention/Solution

You can treat blackheads and pimples with over-the-counter treatments containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, lactic acid or resorcinol as an active ingredient, according to the Mayo Clinic. These active ingredients help control oil production in the skin. If these products do not work, a dermatologist can prescribe stronger acne medications like tazarotene, tretinoin, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, and combinations of benzoyl peroxide and other medications, including clindamycin and erythromycin. Prescription oral treatments may include oral antibiotics, oral contraceptives or isotretinoin, also known as Accutane.

Effects

Side effects of prescription and over-the-counter acne creams are generally mild, like skin redness and drying of the skin. Oral medications, like isotretinoin, have more severe side effects, including depression and thoughts of suicide. Oral contraceptives may cause blood clots, particularly if the patient is a smoker.

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