Most people, at some point in their life, struggle with acne. Whether it is puberty acne or adult acne, they are all annoying. And they are quite problematic. I have had my fair share of dealing with acne. They first appeared when I hit puberty and set camp for a long while. After I grew out of puberty, my acne was still pretty bad. So, I got tired of people asking me “have you tried washing your face?” and decided to do something about it.
Sadly, I wasn’t educated enough on the matter, and I ended up making things worse for myself. I was so desperate that I would buy everything and anything people would suggest. I’d change my skin care routine at least three times a week. And then my skin would feel irritated. I mean, I don’t blame it. After a while, when I was convinced that I am not seeing any improvements, I decided to give it one last try. And this time, I wanted to do things right.
But before I went on with any procedure, I made sure I knew what I was dealing with.
So, let me walk you through some basics.
What is acne?
Well, besides the fact that I LOVE referring to them as “annoying skin bumps”, they have a medical description, too. When you develop acne, it means that there is a disorder going on that affects the skin’s oil glands and hair follicle. These oil glands make a substance that we call sebum. The pores of our skin and the oil glands are connected with one another by a canal called follicle.
So, basically, it is an inflammatory skin condition. These glands may cause whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, and pimples.
Where do acne appear and why?
Well, they don’t really have a specific spot where they develop. But, instead, acne affects several areas such as face, back, and chest. I know they can be discouraging, but you have to pay close attention to them. The place where they appear says a lot about your overall health.
The most common place where acne develops is the chin. We refer to those as hormonal acne. All girls can vouch for me when I say that when it is ‘that time of the month’, your acne decides to act up, too. This is as a result of hormonal changes that occur during that time that directly causes the oil glands to produce more oil.
However, acne appears in a lot of other places. To help you through it, here is an acne face map which will guide you through understanding where your acne is coming from so you can have a clue about how to proceed.
Types of acne
Acne types vary from one another quite a lot. They have different shapes as well as sizes. Some of them are painless while some might be excruciating. So, when it comes to dealing with acne, identifying what type of acne we have is the very first step. So, let’s begin, shall we?
Here is a visual representation of them, first:
Blackheads are most probably the easiest to identify. The skin around the blackhead is usually quite normal with no inflammation whatsoever and the small black head appears in the center. The common myth about blackheads is that they are dirt. That is not true. Blackheads are just like whiteheads, except that they have reached the skin’s surface and, in contact with air, they darken. They are also called open comedones.
The medical term for whiteheads is closed comedones. They are soft, white spots or bumps that form under the skin. They usually leave no scars.
Papules are one type of inflammatory acne. They are bumps formed under the skin. They appear red and swollen and they are sensitive to touch. The pores over papules are not open and picking them can lead to scars.
Another type of inflammatory acne. They are larger bumps that are filled with pus that is formed from bacterial cells. This pus is usually white or yellow. The pustule’s surface appears to be irritated and, in most cases, red.
Nodules are, perhaps, the most severe type of acne. They are painful lumps that are deep under the skin. You should be very careful when it comes to nodules as they can leave scars if not treated carefully.
When to treat acne?
Depending on the severity of your acne and its type, the methods used for treatment vary. However, you need to decide on the time just when do you want to start treating your condition. Treating acne takes time and, most importantly, it takes a whole lot of patience. Acne can happen to anyone, and in no way is it an indication of a poor hygiene. Since acne can happen to anyone, then the right time to start treating acne is when it becomes bothersome for you as an individual. If you see that your acne is having a negative impact on your self-esteem, then, by all means, start the treatment.
However, if your acne isn’t causing you emotional stress but it is deep and can potentially leave permanent scars, then you might consider getting treatment.
Mild acne treatments
It is very important that you keep your skin clean. However, this doesn’t mean that you overdo with washing your face. Washing your face more than it needs will cause for it to be stripped of natural oils and your skin’s oil glands will produce more oil to balance it out. This will only make your acne worse. Instead, try washing your face two times a day, in the morning and before you go to sleep. Wash your face with a mild cleanser that contains salicylic acid. Or try our some acne cleansers such as Aveeno acne bar, Neutrogena Acne Wash.
Exfoliation is one very important step that can help you clear out your acne. During exfoliation, the dead skins cells are removed, which gives you a radiant glow. After washing your face with a mild cleanser, scrub your face with a facial scrub up to two times a week. So, when dead skin cells are removed, your pores are not clogged and this decreases the chances of a breakout.
What I use is simply honey and sugar. Here’s what I do: I put two spoons of honey and one sugar in a small bowl. I mix the two together and then I gently apply it to my face. Then, I scrub my skin for five minutes using circular motions. I leave the mixture on for 10 more minutes I make sure to cover every inch of my skin. Honey has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that bring down the swelling as well as the redness.
However, please understand that treating acne takes time, effort, and a lot of patience. Your skin will not clear overnight. Keep up a consistent skincare routine and you will see results in 8 to 10 weeks.
Severe acne treatments
If your at-home remedies don’t seem to work and your acne is only getting worse, then it is time to dig in further into it. However, while treating acne we should keep in mind our one and only goal: leave no scars. I can’t emphasize this enough!
Topical treatments are applied directly onto the bare skin. Your dermatologist might suggest something like erythromycin, clindamycin, sulfacetamide, azelaic acid, or dapsone. They work by either killing the bacteria or reducing the oil production of your skin.
When the acne is severe with red, inflamed, painful lumps, then your dermatologist might suggest you use antibiotics, contraceptive pills (for women), or isotretinoin. When using antibiotics, you must follow through your doctor’s advice and take the pills as prescribed. Your stomach may be a little upset during the treatment period but make sure to drink plenty of water along with the pill.
Contraceptive pills work by regulating your hormones, which directly affects the severity of your acne. However, do not take contraceptives without consulting the doctor, as you will need contraceptive pills that are low in estrogen.
Isotretinoin is the most effective treatment for severe acne. It is not easily prescribed as it has quite a few side effects. Isotretinoin is used only in cases when every other treatment has failed. It is not something people who have mild acne should use. Isotretinoin has a long-lasting effect and chances of acne returning are very slim. It is usually prescribed for five to six months of use.
Procedures that treat acne
Light treatments: These treatments have proven to be effective, although it is not certain whether the outcome is longlasting. However, your dermatologist will tell you if your acne could be treated in such a way.
Chemical peels: There are two types of chemical peels. One, the peeling that your esthetician will be able to perform, and two, the one from your dermatologist. The difference between the two lies entirely on the depth that these peels go. While at an esthetician, the peeling will be more superficial, your doctor will make sure to reach the most needed depths.
Acne removal: If you have large cystic acne that are not responding to other types of treatment, your dermatologist might use the “drain and extract” method. However, the risk of developing acne scars is quite high with this type of treatment.
What you need to remember
Treating acne can be a long journey. Each and every one of the above-listed methods takes time. So, the best thing to do is be patient and stick to one acne treatment method only. Mixing things up can lead to your acne becoming more severe and we don’t want that. Give things time to work before you switch up to something else entirely. And most importantly, please don’t pick at your skin. Please.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.
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