Acne- a four letter word that we all dread. They pay us a visit and ruin the next few days or even months. A wrong moisturizer, concealer, face powder or face wash and BOOM… a bump on the face. There are few who are genetically blessed with acne-resistant skin but, most of us have to live with the fear of ACNE.
Acne is a skin condition which causes pimples or ‘zits’ and includes ‘blackheads’, ‘whiteheads’ and even red, inflamed patches on the skin. Acne is our skin’s response to the hormonal changes in our body.
The skin contains sebaceous glands which secrete an oily substance, called sebum, that protects the skin. During puberty raised testosterone levels stimulate increased sebum production, which occurs in both boys and girls. The sebum can block hair follicles. When dead skin cells mix with the blockage, it can lead to the formation of spots. Bacteria in the skin multiply, which can cause pain and swelling (inflammation) beneath the blockages.
The different kinds of spots are:
Blackheads are small, blocked pores.
Whiteheads are small, hard bumps with a white centre.
Pustules are spots with a lot of pus visible.
Nodules are hard, painful lumps under the skin.
When the skin is red and swollen, it is an inflammatory acne, which needs treatment to prevent scarring. Picking or squeezing the acne, make matters worse which causes scarring that lasts for weeks to months.
Acne is affected by stress, lack of sleep, menstrual cycle and even pregnancy. Hormonal changes occur in our body throughout the month and the falls in hormone levels cause acne. Same applies to pregnancy, especially if you are carrying a male child, this increases the testosterone level in the mother’s blood. This is the reason behind the popular myth ‘’If your skin darken and you get acne during later pregnancy, it is a baby boy!’’
We have heard of several things that cause acne, but how many of them are true? Here are few of them:
Food: There is no relation between acne and intake of fatty food such as chocolate. However, eating a healthy diet makes you look and feel healthy by cleansing the body of any harmful substance.
Make-up: No relation was found between acne and makeup. The less you touch your skin, the fewer bacteria will be spread to your skin. If you wear make-up, wash your hands before putting your makeup on and always remove it before going to bed. But it is important to avoid cosmetics which are heavy and will clog your pores. If you use good quality makeup this usually is not a problem. Try to use products which are non comedogenic. It’s also important to invest in some good quality applicators for your makeup, i.e. brushes and sponges. Make sure you clean your brushes before and after application of makeup to avoid breakouts. You can use any type of makeup remover.
Bad hygiene: Some people believe that acne is caused by bad personal hygiene, but this is not true. If you are going to get acne, you will get it no matter how much you clean your skin. Too much cleaning can make the condition worse by removing the protective oils in your skin. This can lead to excessive sebum secretion too. So stop being rude to your classmate with acne!
Squeezing the pimple: Squeezing or picking your acne could make your symptoms worse and may leave you with permanent scarring.
If you have acne, wash your skin gently with a mild cleanser and use an oil-free moisturiser. Scrubbing or exfoliating can irritate the skin, making it look and feel sore. Acne will usually go away on its own, but it can take many years. There are treatments that can help clear acne more quickly. Over-the-counter treatments can help with mild acne. Ask a pharmacist for advice on which treatment could help and how long you will have to use it. You may not see results for several weeks.
Here are few self-techniques:
Do not wash the affected part more than twice a day as this can irritate the skin and worsen your problem.
Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and use lukewarm water.
Do not try to squeeze blackheads or spots, as this can cause permanent scarring.
Avoid using too much makeup and cosmetics.
Remember to ‘completely’ remove your makeup before going to bed.
Regular exercise cannot improve your acne but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower, as soon as possible, once you finish exercising as sweat can irritate your acne.
Regularly wash your hair and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.
Use powder-based makeup over liquid.
Make a face pack with green tea extract, mix honey or milk and apply gently on face.
Leave for 20 minutes and then wash off.
Do not expect an overnight result, acne treatment takes months to years.Mild, non-inflammatory acne consists of whiteheads and blackheads. Treatments include ointments or creams that can contain retinoids (vitamin A), topical (applied to the skin) antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide (which is antibacterial).
For severe acne which does not respond to OTC drugs, go to a dermatologist and discuss the problems. Acne may be the symptom of a hidden disease such as PCOS(Polycystic ovarian syndrome). For some women, taking oral contraceptive pills have helped relieve from acne.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE.