Any skin alteration or aesthetical disorder is upsetting and disturbing, especially when it affects the part our body that best reflects our inner self, our faces. However, acne can also affect other body parts such as back, upper chest or shoulders.
It can affect any person, mostly when going through hormonal changes which explains why young adults are more prone to suffer it. For some people, acne is only a moderate and temporary affection whilst for others it turns into a long-lasting nightmare.
Fortunately, nowadays we have more information about this skin disorder and many treatments can control it.
Acne physical effects can be divided into two stages: breakouts while acne is active, and the subsequent post-acne scars that can be permanent. When treating acne, the main goals of the professional are controlling the breakouts and preventing the scars. Therefore, it is always better to treat acne before it becomes severe and cysts appear.
While topical treatments are very effective for mild and moderate inflammatory acne, oral medications are normally required to treat severe acne.
Besides the physical effects, acne is such a noticeable condition that some patients can experience low self-esteem and suffer social and psychological repercussions.
How Does Acne Occur?
Our entire body is covered with fine hair, except for the palms of the hands and feet. Acne pimples or comedones appear when hair follicles get clogged by excess of sebum, keratin and death skin cells. These pimples can get infected and form the so-called acne bacteria which will lead to inflammation.
Some random pimples are not considered acne but when the skin pores are prone to get clogged and develop several in certain areas it is considered acne.
- Blackheads or Open Comedones: Open pores clogged with oil and dead skin cells. They look like small black spots and are generally easy to treat.
- Whiteheads or Close Comedones: Close pores clogged with oil and dead skin cells. They look like small white bumps and are generally easy to treat.
MODERATE INFLAMMATORY ACNE
- Papules and Pustules: The clogged pore develop bacteria and mild inflammation occurs. Papules are reddish and pustules have a yellowish aspect as they have pus inside. It is better to treat them before the infection goes deeper.
- Nodules and Cysts: They appear when the pores infection goes deep into the skin. They are the most inflamed and severe type of acne. It is important to treat them as the risk of post-acne scars is high.
Knowing which factors trigger acne breakouts can help us to prevent them.
Ok, you cannot really prevent this one, but it explains why acne is more frequent in puberty. As said above, if acne mostly affects teenagers is because they are going through some hormonal changes such as fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, among others.
However, adults can also suffer hormonal acne that can be triggered by pregnancy, menopause, or excessive production of cortisol.
- Skin type:
Oily skin types are, for obvious reasons, more prone to suffer acne, the more sebum you produce the more risk for your pores to get clogged.
Cleansing your skin daily with the appropriate cleanser and using non-comedogenic products is a must for oily skin types.
- Nutritional habits:
Some patients suffer more breakouts after ingesting certain foods high in fats such as chocolate, mayonnaise, etc. However, there is no scientific explanation for this yet and it is very particular and different for each patient.
- Comedogenic Products:
Certain ingredients, contained in many skin care products, and non-tested oils are considered comedogenic as they increase the chance of clogged pores. It does not mean that no one should use them, they can be right for other types of skin, but if you are acne prone you should use non-comedogenic cosmetics.
As dirty substances can promote pore clogging, if you are acne prone you should cleanse your skin daily and avoid touching your skin as much as possible as our finger tips can pollute our skin.
Choosing The Right Treatment
As science and medicine improves over time, professionals can nowadays offer more and better products to treat acne.
However, as usually happens, a great demand leads to the apparition of “extraordinary products” that claim to clear acne in ten days or less!
So, the first step is avoiding those supernatural remedies or scams. The second, choosing the right acne treatment for your particular case taking into account your type of acne, skin type, triggering agents, etc. In short, visiting a reliable specialist who can guide you in your choice is always the best option.
MILD AND MODERATE ACNE
- Topical Therapy:The use of topical products with antibacterial and retinoids is the most common way of treating mild or moderate acne. Some of them can also contain antibiotics.
- Oral Medication: When acne becomes severe, oral medications are needed, they normally contain antibiotics and/or ingredients to control hormonal imbalance.
Always remember to follow your doctor indications and remember the three “Ps”: Be Positive, Perseverant and Patient, and you will win the fight.