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Acne Treatment Guide

ItÕs the eighth most common disease on the planet, affects more than 600 million people, and is experienced by up to 90% of teenagers in the West: chances are that someone you know has suffered from acne.


If that someone is you, then you shouldnÕt be afraid to seek treatment: there are plenty of remedies available, and below weÕll run through the different ways that you can treat your acne.

What is acne?

Acne is a skin condition caused by oil from your skin and dead skin cells clogging your hair follicles, leading to clogged pores that get inflamed and develop into pustules.

What causes acne?


Oil on your skin is natural. Your sebaceous glands (attached to the hair follicles on your skin) produce an oily substance, called sebum, in order to stop the hair on your skin from drying out. This is necessary in order for you to have healthy skin.


However, when your skin produces too much sebum it mixes together with your dead skin cells and causes your hair follicles to get clogged. Clogged follicles are then likely to get infected and inflamed.


Acne is also caused by the excessive growth of the bacterium Propionibacterium Š  something which is usually found on your skin Š which can irritate the clogged hair follicles and react badly with your skinÕs natural sebum.  

Where does acne appear?

There are three areas of your body where you are most likely to develop acne:


_      Your back

_      Your chest

_      Your face

Are there different types of acne?

Yes. There are a variety of different skin lumps, bumps, spots, blots, and protrusions, that are associated with acne. Among these are:


_      Blackheads: so called because the inner lining of your hair follicle creates a dark pigmentation inside them, causing black spots to develop on your skin

_      Cysts: the most extreme example of your acne. Large, boil esque, pus-filled spots, cysts carry the greatest threat of leaving you with permanent acne scarring 

_      Nodules: large and painful bumps that develop underneath the skin  

_      Papules: protrusions that are small and red, these will often be painful

_      Pustules: like papules, but instead they have a white point at their centre

_      Whiteheads: like blackheads, but with a white colouration


Acne is grouped into four different categories based on the severity of your case of acne:


_      Mild: these cases are where you have largely blackheads and whiteheads, though, you may also have some papules and pustules

_      Moderate: you will have a number of papules and pustules on your face

_      Moderately severe: in addition to your face, your chest  and back are also severely affected by papules and pustules. You will also have some inflamed nodules on your body

_      Severe: your body is affected by many large and painful pustules and nodules

Who is affected by acne?

Acne is most frequent among adolescents and young adults. The age range is typically between 11 and 30, with 80% of people in this age bracket suffering from acne at some stage.


You are more likely to experience acne between ages 11 and 30 because of the changes in your hormone levels that come with puberty.


However, anyone can experience acne at any stage of their life, with 1% of men and 5% of women experiencing acne when they are aged 25 or older.

Can I prevent acne?

You can reduce your chances of contracting acne by doing the following things:


_      Avoiding comedogenic makeup and cosmetics, as these can block your pores

_      Removing all makeup before you go to sleep

How can I treat my acne

If you have acne, then do not wash the affected areas with hot or cold water, and do not wash them more than twice a day; as this can make acne worse.


In addition to the above measure, there are many different treatments available for your acne.

Benzoyl peroxide 

If your acne is mild, then you will find many available over the counter treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide.


Benzoyl peroxide is an industrial chemical that helps to lower the number of bacteria on your skin, reduce the number of black/whiteheads, and also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Benzoyl peroxide comes in a gel, cream, or lotion form.

Side effects of benzoyl peroxide include:

_      Dry skin

_      Shedding of skin cells

_      Itching, stinging, or burning sensation


Topical retinoids

Using topical retinoids removes dead skin from the surface of your skin, stopping them from clogging up your hair follicles. They come in a gel or cream.

Side effects of topical retinoids include:


_      Stinging and irritation of your skin

Topical antibiotics


These are used to kill the bacteria on your skin (Propionibacterium), stopping it from infecting your clogged hair follicles. They can be bought in a lotion or cream form.

Side effects of topical retinoids include:

_      Skin irritation

_      Red and/or burning skin

_      Shedding of skin cells

Azelaic acid

This both removes dead skin and kills the bacterium Propionibacterium Ń it comes as either a cream or gel.

Side effects of topical retinoids include:

_      Stinging, burning, and irritation of your skin

_      Shedding of skin cells

Antibiotic tablets

These are used to treat mild to severe cases of acne, often alongside a course of topical treatment. They treat acne as a result of their antimicrobial activity against P. acnes, while tackling inflammatory acne protrusions.

Side effects of antibiotic tablets include:

_      If you use them for a prolonged period of time your body may develop a resistance to the antibiotics


Taken as a tablet, Isotretinoin:


_      Inhibits your sebum production limit

_      Stops your hair follicles from becoming clogged

_      Reduces the bacterium Propionibacterium on your skin

_      Lowers swelling and redness in your spots


If you are afflicted by acne then do not suffer. Seek advice from a medical professional and then find the appropriate course of treatment, depending on the severity of your acne.