People may think that acne is due to a variety of issues including dietary changes, facial creams, or dust. However, these are myths and it is important to know the facts about acne to help manage it.
Fact 1: Adult acne affects women more than men
Acne in adulthood is more common in women than in men. About 12-22 % of women suffer from acne during teenage when compared to 3% of men. The reason is that women are more sensitive to hormonal changes.
Fact 2: Acne is genetic
Genetics play a major role in the acne. Some studies have suggested that nearly 80% of acne is due to the presence of inherited genes.
Fact 3: Change in lifestyle affects acne.
There is some evidence that consumption of dairy products and foods with a high GI-index can aggravate acne. So, it is better to limit the consumption of dairy products and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Fact 4: Acne-prone skin needs moisturizing.
Moisturizing the skin maintains integrity of the skin barrier function and is vital for good skin health. Therefore, you should follow a good skin care routine. Apply moisturizer even if you have an oily skin, as excess oil does not maintain the skin hydration.
Fact 5: Don’t squeeze spots.
Squeezing the pimples may cause pigmentation marks or scarring of the skin. You can apply salicylic acid, which can dry it up and helps to prevent inflammation.
Steroid injections are helpful in treating large and stubborn acne and may help treat the scars. It can be injected directly into the acne lesion, leading to flattening of the cyst within 42-72 hours.
Fact 8: Exposure to sun rays causes acne.
Exposure to the sun can improve or worsen the acne, but it depends on the individual. Mild exposure to skin may improve the acne. If you are taking medications, wear a hat before stepping out as these medications make your skin more sensitive to harmful effects of sunrays.
Fact 9: Makeup with mineral oil can worsen the acne.
Any product, which is manufactured using oil, can worsen the acne. People who are prone to acne should look for the products that are oil-free or non-comedogenic.
Fact 10: Washing your face a lot won’t clear blemishes.
Over cleansing and exfoliating, your face may not reduce acne problems. In turn, it irritates and dries your skin out, which leads to excess oil secretion.
Fact 11: Excess oil on face causes pimples.
Oil glands on your face overproduce oil and combine with dead skin cells. It blocks pores and hair follicles. Then bacteria start multiplying and growing in those follicles, which lead to the development of acne.
Fact 12: Environmental factors can worsen the breakouts.
Heredity, hormones, and environmental factors can determine how bad you break out. Factors like stress, diet, exercise, and skin care play an important role in causing pimples. Pimples are also caused by using used yoga mats and pillow cases, etc all of which are full of dirt, bacteria, and oil.
Medicines help to manage severity and frequency of acne breakouts. The aim of the treatment is to clear the spots and to prevent scarring. There are different types of treatment that work in different ways.
Topical preparations for acne
Gels, lotions, and creams are used to treat acne. Different preparations work in different ways. The following are described briefly.
Benzoyl peroxide: It has three actions; kills bacteria, reduces inflammation, and helps to unplug the blocked pores. Therefore, it often works well to clear the inflamed spots and helps to clear the blackheads and whiteheads.
Retinoids: They are good at unplugging the blocked pores. Adapalene, tretinoin, and isotretinoin are commonly used. It also shows some effect on reducing the inflammation. These drugs are commonly prescribed for patients with blackheads, whiteheads, and mildly inflamed spots.
Topical antibiotics reduce inflammation caused by the bacteria. They also show some effect on unplugging blocked pores and hence are used for treating the inflamed acne. Usually, topical antibiotics are prescribed in combination with other medicines such as azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinoid.
Oral preparations for acne
Antibiotics: It works by killing the germs that contribute to cause acne. They also have a direct effect of reducing the inflammation. They clear the inflamed acne spots and surrounding inflammation. Some of the antibiotics commonly used for acne are:
Tetracycline-based antibiotics: They include oxytetracycline, tetracycline, doxycycline, and lymecycline. Other antibiotics include erythromycin and trimethoprim.
Contraceptive pill: These pills are used when the acne is partially related to their hormonal changes.
Isotretinoin tablets: It reduces the amount of oil made by your sebaceous glands. It clears the spots even in severe cases.
Therapies are suggested either alone or in combination with medications. They include:
Light therapy: A variety of light-based therapies has been tried with success. It targets the bacteria that cause acne inflammation.
Chemical peel: In this treatment, repeated applications of a chemical solution such as salicylic acid are used. It is most effective when combined with other acne treatments.
Extraction of whiteheads and blackheads: This therapy is used to treat the whiteheads and blackheads which are not cleared with topical medications. Your dermatologist uses special tools to remove them; however, this technique may cause scarring.
Steroid injection: Nodular and cystic infection can be treated by injecting the steroids directly into them. It improves their appearance without the need for extraction.
Understanding the causes and nature of acne is the first step towards finding the best way to treat acne for you. Go for regular skin check-ups and decide your treatment options based on your doctor’s consultation and your own comfort.