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Help With Acne

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Looking for help with acne? Here are the most effective treatment options for treating the skin disease.

When acne breaks out, it turns the area of the skin affected red and scaly. The skin is also covered by pustules, pimples, whiteheads and blackheads. In severe cases, nodules and cysts may appear which can also leave scars.

Acne lesions leave blemishes on the skin and because they affect visible areas such as the face, their appearance can cause psychological distress.

While acne is common in adolescents, some people experience it for longer. Adult acne can leave the face completely scarred and then flare up regularly. It is important to double down on clearing off acne if you still experience regular acne breakouts in your 20s. While acne is a common sight in teenagers, it can be unsightly in adults.

Many acne sufferers try different treatments and listen to conflicting advices as they seek help to combat their acne. Clearly, acne can be difficult to eliminate, and no one treatment or remedy can claim total cure for everyone.

Different factors will determine what will be the best treatment for each case of acne.

The most important factors are the skin type of the acne sufferer, the severity of the acne, the root cause of the acne and whether adult acne is hereditary in the family.

Mild and moderate acne do not require a visit to your doctor but severe and recurrent acne may require prescription drugs to fully control. Therefore, you can start you acne treatment at home with readily available remedies. Only when these do not work should you proceed to the next stage of treatment.

Discussed below are ways to help with your acne.

Improved Skincare Regimen

The buildup of dirt on the skin is the most direct cause of acne.

When the skin pores are clogged by excess sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria, cause the appearance of acne comedones such as whiteheads and blackheads. It is the clogged dirt in the pores and the fat pushed out through these same pores that make up the pus sealed inside pimples and pustules.

Therefore, a simple way to prevent these acne lesions from forming is by keeping the skin clean always.

When excess sebum covers the skin, it serves as food source and ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria. By triggering the colonization of the skin by these bacteria, excess sebum is, therefore, the first step in the chain reaction that leads to acne breakouts.

To prevent further acne breakouts, it is important to remove excess sebum from the skin. People with oily skin types are easily affected since they produce and collect sebum on their skins more than others.

Washing the area of the skin affected, especially the face, with a mild soap or cleanser is generally effective. This can be done twice daily, in the morning and in the evening, as well as after a considerable sweating spell.

The soap or cleanser used should not be so harsh as to irritate the skin; and it should not cause excessive dryness so that it does not trigger rebound production of sebum as the skin tries to hydrate itself.

Furthermore, skincare products providing excellent cleansing and exfoliating actions should be used.

The best types of skincare products to use on acne-covered skin are the ones formulated of hypoallergenic compounds and natural herbs which can also improve acne symptoms by other means. Such skincare products should be able to provide a deep cleansing action that opens up the pores and remove dirt from them.

Lastly, since the major means by which bacteria is transferred to the skin is by touch, you should refrain from touching your face or any other part of the skin affected by acne.

Dietary Changes

New studies are establishing that diet is also an important part of acne development and treatment.

Some foods do cause or contribute to acne breakouts while some can help reduce its severity and clear the face of blemishes.

The foods to avoid while treating acne include milk, dairy products and high carb foods that produce high glycemic loads. This is because these foods supply or stimulate the release of the very hormones that cause acne.

Milk and milk products usually contain growth hormones such as androgens. These hormones excessively stimulate the production of sebum.

High carb foods, on the other hand, cause high levels of insulin to be released. Insulin and insulin-like hormones produce the same effect on the skin as the androgens.

Therefore, you can clear your acne with restricted diet by excluding milk, milk products, soda drinks and foods prepared with refined sugars especially junk foods.

Some experts even advice adopting special diets such as paleo diet or detox diets. However, these diets are difficult to follow and even though they are beneficial in theory, they may not produce lasting or remarkable effects on your acne.

Still, excluding acne-causing foods from your diet may produce dramatic results. Therefore, you should try this even before you decide to treat your acne with medications.

Besides excluding some foods, you can also add some foods to your diet to reduce acne breakouts.

Generally, any dietary source of Omega 3 fatty acids (Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA) is great for your skin. These dietary sources include oily fish, fish oil (cod liver oil, for example), palm oil and sunflower oil.

Omega 3 fatty acids are good anti-inflammatory agents too, and they can help with acne too.

Nutritional Supplements for Acne

Some vitamins and minerals can help reduce and even clear off acne lesions.

Naturally, these are supplied in foods but not usually in the doses needed to produce significant results in acne treatment. Therefore, you will need to take these supplements alone or with the other acne remedies you use for added benefits.

Nutritional Supplements for Acne

Most of these vitamins have antioxidant properties by which they protect the skin from oxidative damage from harmful free radicals and environmental toxins.

Vitamin A also has an anti-inflammatory property. Therefore, it can prevent skin inflammation and acne lesions such as pimples, nodules and cysts. Vitamin A analogs such as isotretinoin are also powerful acne medications which are used for severe acne.

Vitamin B5 increases the breakdown of fat in the body by promoting the production of Coenzyme A. Because it speeds up fat metabolism, this vitamin can prevent the clogging of skin pores by fat deposited underneath the skin.

Furthermore, vitamin B5 constricts these pores to push out the dirt and hardened sebum clogging them up.

Vitamin B6 reduces levels of free androgens circulating through the body. Therefore, it prevents the overstimulation of the sebaceous glands and the excessive secretion of sebum.

Vitamin B6 also inhibits prostaglandin. So, it prevents the inflammatory reaction that can cause swelling on the skin and lead to the breakout of inflammatory acne lesions.

Vitamin C, D and E all have antioxidant properties. But they also provide additional benefits in acne treatment.

Vitamin C is helpful during the antibiotic treatment of acne since it prevents the hyperpigmentation caused by the tetracycline antibiotics used for clearing acne. It does this by protecting the skin from ultraviolet damage after the antibiotics make the skin photosensitive.

Vitamin D is also photoprotective. The sunshine vitamin, as it is called, is also useful for clearing acne because of its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Vitamin E speeds up tissue repairs and wound healing. Therefore, it can help heal acne lesions and reduce scarring.

Selenium is also an antioxidant with a specific affinity for neutralizing harmful peroxides before they damage the skin. It also improves the antioxidant properties of vitamins A and E. Therefore, it should be combined with them in acne supplements.

Zinc is an antibacterial agent that can help wipe out acne-causing bacteria. It also reduces the production of dihydrotestosterone which is one of the androgens implicated in the development of acne.

Botanicals and Natural Remedies

Different classes of natural remedies can help clear acne.

These natural remedies are easily obtained and prepared at home; they are generally safe and often provide comparable results to over-the-counter and some prescription acne medications.

Herbal extracts: Some herbs have rich histories of curing skin diseases and/or improving the tone and appearance of the skin. These herbs have different mechanisms of action and most acne sufferers agree that they are useful.

Aloe vera is an all-time favorite for soothing and healing the skin. Gum guggul is a sap extract with anti-inflammatory properties.

Don quai or female ginsengs corrects hormonal imbalance and so improves acne symptoms by stimulating the release of female sex hormones to counteract male sex hormones. Vitex does the same thing but specifically promotes the release of progesterone.

Oils: Some medicinal oils are also useful for clearing acne.

Generally, oils can improve the appearance of the skin but they can also leave the skin oilier and, therefore, prone to acne breakouts. However, two oils stand out in their anti-acne properties.

Jojoba oil, which is really a wax, is so similar to sebum that it can trick the skin into reducing the production of sebum. Jojoba oil also has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties which are useful for neutralizing bacteria and toxins on the skin.

Tea tree oil also has a potent antimicrobial property. It is even effective against drug-resistant bacteria and its efficacy has been compared to that of benzoyl peroxide.

Teas: Medicinal teas can also provide relief for acne sufferers. The teas can be drunk or rubbed on the skins. Four examples of teas that can help with acne are rooibos tea, green tea, spearmint tea and chamomile tea.

Teas generally contain multiple antioxidants such as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), nothofagin, aspalathin and superoxide dismutase. They also contain other phytochemicals that give them antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Peroxides and Weak Acids

Peroxides and weak acids are commonly used to clear acne. In fact, they are found in most topical OTC acne products.

The two peroxides used for treating acne are hydrogen peroxide and benzoyl peroxide.

While hydrogen peroxide is a common bleaching solution used at home, benzoyl peroxide is only found in acne products. Both peroxides are bleaching agents. They break down bacteria cells, and can help slough off dirt from the surface of the skin and from the pores. They also remove excess sebum.

Salicylic acid is often used with or as a substitute for benzoyl peroxide in topical acne products. It possesses a mild but similar action. Salicylic acid has a structure similar to that of aspirin. It also has anti-inflammatory property.

Other weak acids found in acne products include alpha hydroxyl acids. They are mostly useful for exfoliating and rejuvenating the skin.

Vinegars are also acidic solutions usually found at home and useful for treating acne.

White vinegar and apple cider vinegar are the two vinegars commonly used. They are antiseptic agents that can help reduce the activities of acne-causing bacteria as well as restore the pH of the skin.

Antibiotics and Retinoids

Oral and topical antibiotics can also help clear acne. Oral antibiotics are recommended for severe acne while topical antibiotics can be used for mild to moderate acne.

The oral antibiotics used in acne treatment include the tetracycline antibiotics (tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, lymecycline and oxytetracycline), erythromycin and clindamycin. These are usually broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Their use in acne treatment should only be as a last resort because of two reasons.

One, there is a rising number of reported cases of antibiotic-resistant acne-causing bacteria. Secondly, antibiotics have serious side effects. The tetracycline antibiotics can make the skin photosensitive and cause the pigmentation of the bones and soft tissues when used for an extended period of time.

They are, however, not the only acne medications with serious side effects. Isotretinoin, a vitamin A analog or retinoid, is strongly regulated because of its side effects.

Retinoids are used in treating acne because they regulate the growth of skin cells.

Isotretinoin is a first-generation retinoid used for treating severe cystic acne after other treatments have failed. It essentially kills the cells of the sebaceous glands to reduce the production of sebum.

This drug produces some damaging side effects such as birth defects. Some of these side effects can be permanent since isotretinoin is capable of changing the way certain genes are expressed. Therefore, isotretinoin should not be used without the supervision of a dermatologist.

Adapalene is a topical, third-generation retinoid used for treating mild to moderate acne.

It is safer than isotretinoin and can be used along with clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide. Adapalene helps reduce the rate of keratinization and remove dead skin cells from the skin. It also has an anti-inflammatory property.

Next Article: Aloe for Acne Treatment