Acne is a common skin disease especially in teenagers. However, adult acne is not rare either. Acne usually shows when the nature of the skin is changed either because of bacterial colonization of the skin surface or androgen-induced changes in the sebaceous follicles.
The first signs of acne are the lesions. In mild to moderate acne, seborrhea, comedones, papules and pustules are the first to appear. These are also commonly known as red, scaly skin, whiteheads, blackheads, pinheads and pimples.
In severe cases of acne, the papules could become bigger and form nodules. In addition, inflamed bumps on the skin may turn into acne cysts. When nodules and cysts are aggravated they may cause acne scars.
Acne starts in most people as soon as puberty. Ideally, it should have cleared away or reduced tremendously by age 25 when the oily teenage skin is replaced by the dry adult skin.
However, the hormonal imbalance and bacterial cause of acne may extend the skin condition well into middle age.
In young people, especially in their teens, the level of production of male sex hormones or androgens is increased. These excess androgens can change the nature of the skin leading to increased sebum production and hyperkeratinization.
Examples of androgens which can cause this change are testosterone and its metabolites such as dihydrotestosterone or DHT. When acne breaks out during pregnancy, menstrual cycles or menopause, it is usually because of hormonal imbalances.
For example, during menopause, the production of estradiol may fall. This female sex hormone is a natural anti-acne compound, and when it is no longer produced, androgens will dominate.
Other causes of hormonal imbalance which can lead to acne include birth control pills especially ones which do not contain estrogen; certain diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome; and some forms of hormone replacement therapy.
For the bacterial cause of acne, two bacteria are implicated. These are Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis.
While there are beneficial strains of P. acnes living on the surface of healthy skin, harmful strains of the bacterium can change the nature of the skin enough to cause acne especially when S. epidermis is also present.
There are different medications that can be used to treat acne. Some of them kill off the acne-causing bacteria, some correct hormonal imbalance and others keep the skin pores unclogged while clearing acne lesions.
Herbal extracts can treat acne by any combination of these three mechanisms. They share the distinct advantage of having very few side effects if any. They are also affordable and backed by years of use in traditional medicine in different cultures.
Aloe is an excellent example of such herbal extract. After centuries of use as a herbal remedy, it continues to be used for treating skin diseases even today.
Aloe vera is widely used in the cosmetic industry for its soothing, moisturizing and nourishing effects on the skin.
Its bactericidal activity makes it useful for healing wounds and for treating skin infections such as psoriasis and acne. In acne treatment, the bactericidal activity of aloe vera is effective against both P. acnes and S. epidermis.
Aloe vera extracts have also been shown to have antifungal properties. Apart from skin infections, aloe vera can be used to treat inflammatory bodies on the skin such as boils and cysts.
Aloe vera can penetrate deep into the skin to kill off bacteria hiding in clogged skin pores. It can also form a protective layer over the skin in order to speed up the healing of acne lesions and the fading of acne scars.
This herbal extract can also reduce the size of inflamed nodules and cysts and help relieve pain caused by the swelling. Aloe vera also promotes the regeneration of skin cells and tissues.
There are many acne products containing aloe vera. They are usually sold as topical preparations. Some of these also have other active ingredients besides aloes.
To get the most benefits from treating acne with an aloe vera skincare product, you should use it constantly. The usual routine for aloe vera acne product is to apply it in the morning and in the evening.
You should try and combine different aloe-containing acne skin product types. You can establish a skincare routine with aloe vera gel, lotion, cream, soap and mask.
For example, you may apply aloe vera gel in the morning on the area of the skin affected by the acne. Gently massage the gel into the skin and leave it on. Aloe vera soap can be used as a facial cleanser. Wash the area covered by the acne with such soap at least twice daily. For those with oily skins, more frequent washes may be required.
To moisturize your skin while maintaining the anti-acne cover, use an aloe vera lotion or cream. This will provide an all-day protective layer that reduces the breakout of new acne lesions. By night, you can apply an aloe vera mask before going to bed, and wash it off in the morning.
Aloe vera products may cause a tingling sensation or itching on sensitive skins. A very few people also are allergic to aloe. For most people though, aloe is safe to use and produces no side effects.
While you can buy aloe vera products from your local drug store, you can also make your own aloe preparations at home.
To do this, first you need to remove a whole leaf from the aloe plant. An outer leaf should be chosen and then cut off as close to the trunk of the plant as possible.
Make a slit down the middle of the leaf to release the yellow exudate which is the latex. Allow all of the exudate to drain to prevent it from contaminating the gel that will come out later. This latex is responsible for the irritation and inflammation sometimes reported for topical applications of aloe.
There is no need to drain the leaves of Aloe arborescens since it contains very little of the latex.
With a serrated knife, cut off the jagged edges of the leaf then remove its thick skin. After this, scrape off any latex left from the gel core of the leaf.
Remove a piece of the gel and apply directly to the part of the skin affected by acne. Avoid contact with the eyes. Store the rest of the gel in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it can keep for a week.
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