Most teenagers and young adults get acne. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that more than 40 million people suffer from the extremely common skin condition each year in the United States. But although acne--especially uncomplicated, mild acne--is so common, good information about how to treat it is scarce, and many erroneous myths about treatment circulate.
Acne results from a complicated hormonal chain reaction, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Glands in the skin called sebaceous glands respond to hormonal signals by producing too much oil, making the skin too oily and causing clogged pores. Clogged pores lead to whiteheads and blackheads. If you have uncomplicated acne, you'll likely have many whiteheads and blackheads and many smaller bumps and pimples. You won't, however, have the severe infection and inflammation that characterizes more severe acne cases.
Most people with uncomplicated acne turn first to over-the-counter products, and these can work well to clear mild cases, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. However, be careful about choosing a product, because not all of them will work well to clear your lesions. The American Academy of Dermatology advises looking for a cream or ointment that contains benzoyl peroxide, which is a well-regarded acne-fighting medication. You also can choose a product that contains salicylic acid. Both will kill acne-causing bacteria and help to clear pore blockages.
If your uncomplicated acne stubbornly resists over-the-counter treatments, you're not alone. Many people with mild acne need a dermatologist's help to clear their skin, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Dermatologists can prescribe stronger medications that will kill bacteria on the skin and also topical medicines that help clear your pores faster. Some dermatologists also recommend physical procedures such as blue LED light treatments, which can kill bacteria, and chemical peels, which help to clear pores.
Regardless of what treatments you use to clear your uncomplicated acne, you need to practice proper skin care. Many acne sufferers think aggressive products to scrub the face clean will help their acne, but they're wrong. The Mayo Clinic recommends a gentle cleanser to avoid making your acne worse and says you should avoid irritants such as oily or greasy cosmetics and sunscreens. Look for water-based products and those that state they won't make your acne worse.
Dermatologists also warn that picking and squeezing acne lesions will make your uncomplicated acne worse, not better. If you touch your pimples to pinch them off or clear them, you risk introducing infection that can turn your uncomplicated acne case into a more serious condition, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you resist the urge to pop and pick, use an effective over-the-counter product as directed and practice good skin care techniques, you may be able to clear your uncomplicated acne yourself.
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