Acne is a term that’s used to describe whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. (You may well recognize slang terms like spots, or zits). Most teenagers get the type of acne called acne vulgaris, which can show up on the face, neck, shoulders, back, and chest. Skin pores contain oil glands which naturally lubricate your skin and hair. But sometimes if a pore gets clogged beneath the skin with excess oil and bacteria, the dreaded acne is caused…
Whiteheads happen when a pore gets clogged, closes, and then bulges out. If a pore gets clogged but stays open, the top may darken and you’ve got a blackhead. A pimple happens when dead skin and bacteria work their way under live skin. This leads to a small infection that makes your skin look red.
What Causes Acne?
Although everyone is different, acne is usually caused by the build up of oil and dead skin in a pore. This build up of oil and dead skin is caused because of:
- Natural hormones. These are particularly active in your teens.
- Plugged skin. Lots of skin cells can close the oil glands or pores, creating blackheads or whiteheads, (as mentioned earlier).
- Bacteria. Bacteria can easily infect oil glands and pores and grow very quickly.
- Family background. If you have acne, your kids are more likely to have it too.
How To Reduce An Acne Problem
- You shouldn’t squeeze, pick, scratch, or rub your skin as it makes the problem worse, and it might even cause scarring.
- Regularly shampoo your hair, and try to keep it off your face if possible – especially at night.
- Keep a food diary to work out if you are one of the few people whose acne gets worse if they eat certain things.
- Exercise regularly to get the old blood flowing, and make sure you get a wash as soon after as possible.
- Avoid unnecessarily touching your face.
- If possible, try to minimize your stress levels.
- Avoid getting sunburned.
- Change your wash cloth every day, as bacteria can grow on damp cloth.
- Wash your face twice a day with a gentle soap like Dove or Lever 2000.
- Always rinse really well with lots of water.
- Only wear makeup on special occasions, and then make sure you remove it completely.
- Granular facial scrub can make acne worse by aggravating the skin.
Medication For Extreme Cases
Oral antibiotics have a high success rate, and can be safely used for up to a year. It can take up to six months to fully take effect, but there should be a noticeable difference within six weeks. Oral Antibiotics include erythromycin, minocycline and tetracycline
Benzoyl peroxide kills the bacteria which causes inflammation. It is available over the counter in 2.5%, 5% and 10% creams and lotions. It is available in gels in the same percentages but only by prescription. Clinically, there’s not much difference between the effectiveness of the various strengths and types used.
NOTE: Unfortunately, there can be some side effects of the use of Benzyol peroxide, including hypersensitivity, irritation, and contact dermatitis (although these are very rare). Remember to always keep Benzoyl peroxide away from clothing as it has a bleaching effect.