Efficient Way of Getting Rid of Acne
Acne is caused when sebaceous glands---glands that produce oil---are overactive and clog and inflame pores. Before we hit puberty, these glands are sedentary, which is why children have such clear skin. Hormones also cause breakouts. Many women get cyclical acne caused by estrogen and progestin, female hormones that spike just before the onset of menses. Both types of acne can be successfully treated with a good cleansing routine and, in some cases, prescription medication.
The first step in battling acne is keeping your skin clean. Soap containing the ingredient salicylic acid helps clean pores and treats oily skin. It's important to wash your skin after waking up in the morning when sebum, the oils created by the sebaceous gland, is most visible. Further, showering in the morning can help control sebum for hours. A study titled "The Effect of Morning Shower on Sebum" found that subjects who showered first thing in the morning had lower levels of oil production throughout the day. Just taking a one-minute shower was sufficient.
People with moderate to heavy acne should exfoliate two or three times a week. Exfoliating scrubs gets into the pores to clean out dead skin cells and bacteria. Because these products can dry and irritate skin if used too often, even with frequent breakouts, it's best to resist the temptation to use daily.
Benzoyl peroxide, sulfur and resorcinol come in spot-on treatment application gels and creams. Apply a dab of medication to each blemish. Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria that cause acne. Sulfur dries skin and causes peeling. It helps break down blackheads and whiteheads. Resorcinol works on the same kind of acne as sulfur, but doesn't cause as much drying.
Start with the lowest dose of medication and watch to see how your skin reacts. Increase the dose if after two or three weeks you do not have any noticeable improvement.
There are two reasons you would need to use a prescription treatment: If your acne is hormonal or your breakouts are especially severe and do not respond to over-the-counter treatments.
Your doctor can prescribe an oral contraceptive to treat acne caused by hormones. The FDA has approved of three different birth control pills for this purpose including ethinyl estradiol and norgestimate (brand name Ortho Tri-Cyclen), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (brand name Estrostep), and ethinyl estradiol and drospirenone (brand name Yaz).
Adapalene (brand name Differin) is prescribed to slow the skin cells inside the pore from shedding too quickly. Azelaic acid (sold as Azelex) helps cell regeneration and kills the bacteria that cause acne. For more information on prescription acne medications, read "Prescription Treatments for Acne" at Acne.org (see Resources).
It may take a few weeks before you start noticing results---especially with oral contraceptives. But once your skin begins responding to treatment, new breakouts will be prevented.
Other Causes and Treatments
Sometimes acne is caused by external factors. Anabolic steroids taken by body builders and corticosteroids used to treat diseases like diabetes and arthritis are notorious for causing breakouts. If you're taking this drug to improve your physique, discontinuing the medication should clear your acne in a few weeks. If a medication is prescribed for an illness, you can talk to your doctor about adjusting your dose, using a substitute medication or trying an antibiotic to treat stubborn acne that doesn't respond to the other treatments mentioned earlier.
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