Zits. Pimples. Blemishes. No matter what you call them, ACNE can be distressing and annoyingly persistent!
What is Acne?
Acne is the common cause of ‘spots’. Most people with acne are aged between 12 and 25, but some older and younger people are affected. Acne usually affects the face but may also affect the back, neck, and chest. The severity can range from mild to severe. About 9 in 10 teenagers develop some degree of acne. Often it is mild. However, it is estimated that about 3 in 10 teenagers have acne bad enough to need treatment to prevent scarring. Untreated acne usually lasts about 4-5 yea
rs before settling.
The cause of Acne
Small sebaceous glands lie just under the skin surface. These glands make the ‘oil’ (sebum) that keeps the skin supple and smooth. Tiny pores (holes) on the skin allow the sebum to come onto the skin surface. Hairs also grow through these pores. During the teenage years, you make much more sebum than when you were a child. This is due to the hormone changes of puberty which stimulate the sebaceous glands. As a rule, the more sebum that you make, the more greasy your skin feels, and the worse acne is likely to be. Some people make more sebum than others.
What makes Acne worse?
- In women, the hormone changes around the monthly period may cause a flare-up of spots.
- Thick or greasy make-up may, possibly, make acne worse. However, most make-up does not affect acne. You can use make-up to cover some mild spots.
- Sweating heavily or humid conditions may make acne worse. For example, doing regular hot work in kitchens. The extra sweat possibly contributes to blocking pores.
- Spots may develop under tight clothes. For example, under headbands, tight bra straps, tight collars, etc. This may be due to increased sweating and friction under tight clothing.
- Some drugs can make acne worse.
- Anabolic steroids (which some body-builders take illegally) can make acne worse.
Treatments and drugs
Acne treatments work by reducing oil production, speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection, reducing the inflammation or doing all four. With most prescription acne treatments, you may not see results for four to eight weeks, and your skin may get worse before it gets better.
Your doctor or dermatologist may recommend a prescription medication you apply to your skin (topical medication) or take by mouth (oral medication). Oral prescription medications for acne should not be used during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester.
Living with Acne
You can avoid or control most acne with good basic skin care and the following self-care techniques:
- Wash problem areas with a gentle cleanser. Products such as facial scrubs, astringents and masks generally aren’t recommended because they tend to irritate skin, which can worsen acne. Excessive washing and scrubbing also can irritate skin. If you tend to develop acne around your hairline, shampoo your hair frequently.
- Try over-the-counter acne lotion to dry excess oil and promote peeling. Look for products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as the active ingredient.
- Avoid irritants. You may want to avoid oily or greasy cosmetics, sunscreens, hairstyling products or acne concealers. Use products labeled “water-based” For some people, the sun worsens acne. Additionally, some acne medications can make you more susceptible to the sun’s rays. Check with your doctor to see if your medication is one of these, and if so, stay out of the sun as much as possible and anytime you have to be in the sun, use sunscreen that doesn’t clog your pores.
- Watch what touches your face. Keep your hair clean and off your face. Also avoid resting your hands or objects, such as telephone receivers, on your face. Tight clothing or hats also can pose a problem, especially if you’ll be sweating. Sweat, dirt and oils can contribute to acne.
- Don’t pick or squeeze blemishes. Picking or squeezing can cause infection or scarring. If you need aggressive treatment, see your doctor or dermatologist.
For more information Pop into Brookes Pharmacy or Phone us on: 023-8841136