Dead Skin & Acne
Eight out of ten teenagers get acne, according to Teens Health, a Nemours Hospital website, but some have no idea of the physical process behind the pimples. Several things play a role, including dead skin. Some store-bought acne treatments and medical procedures even target dead skin cells, along with the other causes.
Old skin cells are one of the causes of acne. It is normal for skin cells to die and be shed regularly. People with acne usually shed those cells too quickly. They blend with sebum, a natural skin oil that is produced in excess during the teen years, and partially or completely block pores, according to Teens Health. This leads directly to pimple outbreaks.
Acne consists of several different pimple types, but dead cells only contribute to the non-inflammatory variety. Acne.org, an informational website, explains that the non-inflammatory acne includes blackheads, which are partially open, and whiteheads, which are completely closed. These lesions usually go away with treatment, but the pore sometimes collapses and fills with white blood cells. This makes it a nodule, which can eventually turn into a cyst.
The two most popular ingredients in home acne treatments directly address dead skin cells, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Benzoyl peroxide removes the cells and kills P. acnes, a pimple-causing type of bacteria. Salicylic acid helps stop abnormal shedding of the dead cells, but it does not affect the bacteria. These products take several weeks to produce results. Acne sufferers can switch from one to the other if they are not getting good results with either ingredient.
There is a medical acne treatment called pneumatic therapy that works on dead skin cells, as well as the other acne causes, according to the Mayo Clinic. A doctor harnesses vacuum suction to remove dead skin cells and oil from the sebaceous glands. Then blue and red light therapy is used to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. Doctors can also prescribe strong topical preparations that get rid of the skin cells and address the other acne causes.
People with acne should not scrub the skin or use astringents and other harsh products to remove dead skin cells. They should not be rubbed away with a washcloth either. The Mayo Clinic warns that touching and scrubbing is bad for the skin, because it causes inflammation and makes the pimples even worse. Stick to buying products that help remove the cells or medical treatments performed by a physician.
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