Real Acne Solutions
Acne plagues more than 40 million people, and Americans spend upwards of $1.2 billion each year on acne products and therapies, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you have acne, it's likely that you've looked at numerous products that purport to clear up pimples. But only a handful of acne fighters really work, the academy says.
Although dermatologists aren't sure exactly what causes acne, three factors seem to be in play, according to the Mayo Clinic. Hormones cause too much production of sebum, which is the oil that lubricates your skin. The sebum then combines with sloughed-off skin cells to form plugs in hair follicles and pores. And finally, bacterial infection sets in below the blockages, causing inflammation.
Although hundreds of over-the-counter products are available, real acne solutions rely on a handful of ingredients, according to the academy of dermatology. Benzoyl peroxide, which works to kill bacteria, is one of the most effective, so you should look for a product containing this ingredient. Other effective ingredients include acetone and alcohol, which also kill bacteria, salicylic acid, which helps stop skin-cell shedding and unclogs pores, and resorcinol, which helps to control smaller lesions. The academy warns that "herbal" and "natural" products generally haven't been tested for acne and may be ineffective.
If over-the-counter treatments fail to clear up your acne, you may need to ask a dermatologist for help. Dermatologists often start with prescription medications to fight stubborn acne, according to the academy of dermatology. Oral antibiotics can fight bacterial infection in acne, as can topical antibiotics or anti-microbials. Your dermatologist may recommend combining oral antibiotics with topical tretinoin. Tretinoin helps to clear pores by encouraging the skin to renew itself.
Physical procedures such as chemical peels and LED light treatments also have gained popularity in acne treatment, in part because they don't involve messy daily medication regimens, according to the academy. Studies show that the majority of acne patients who undergo LED light treatments see up to two-thirds of their lesions disappear after eight treatments. Chemical peels can loosen pore blockages and promote clearing after one treatment.
While you may need one of these real acne solutions to clear up your pimples, you'll also need to practice good skin care, according to the academy. Too much washing and scrubbing can make acne worse, not better, and dermatologists say you should wash your face once or twice a day at most with mild soap and water to help remove excess oil and make any of the acne treatments work most effectively.
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