The first time most people (around 80% to be precise) deal with acne is during puberty, but for many adults they find themselves dealing with it in one form or another in adulthood, as well. Acne can appear on the back, buttocks and shoulders, but it’s most problematic when on the face. It can cause lifetime scarring, when severe. Often, women can find themselves dealing with bouts of acne during menstruation or when pregnant. And stress can produce acne in anyone.
Teen Onset Acne
The presentation of acne is believed to be caused by hormonal changes that affect the skin’s sebaceous glands. Everyone has these glands, which secrete sebum, an oily substance that protects the skin. During puberty, rising testosterone levels can cause too much sebum production in both boys and girls. Too much sebum can clog hair follicles. Add normal shedding of dead skin cells to the blockage, and bacteria are given an ideal breeding spot, hence, inflammation occurs just beneath the skin. Inflammatory acne is a condition accompanied by red and swollen skin, and without treatment, will produce scarring, although all forms can lead to scarring if picked at or squeezed. Diagnoses are generally placed in one of four categories: blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and nodules.
Need to Know Facts
First, acne will not respond well to vigorous scrubbing or exfoliation methods. These will only irritate and worsen the condition. Think mild, gentle cleansing, followed by oil-free moisturizing. Contrary to the public misconception that acne-sufferers just need to employ better hygiene, you’re either going to get it, or you aren’t. In fact, over-cleaning is to be avoided. Makeup itself does not cause acne, unless it’s oil based, but skin touching can. Always wash your hands prior to applying makeup AND wash your face before bed. While eating healthily is always recommended, there is no evidence to support a connection between any particular food consumption and acne.
Dealing With Acne
The good news is that most acne will disappear on its own, but it can take years. Not all over the counter (OTC) remedies are equal. Ask your pharmacist to recommend one. Any benefit from these could take time, so patience is important. When OTC products fail, your general practitioner can assess your acne and advise you of options and contraindications. Current methods found to be effective in treating mild to moderate acne include retinoids, oral of topically-applied antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid. Estrogen in the form of birth control pills has been used for acne treatment in women. Your GP may refer you to a dermatologist, who works with stronger medications, and there may be a light and laser therapy provider in your area, which many claim to be effective in treating acne.