Around 80 percent of people between the ages of 11 and 30 have bouts of acne at some point, making it the most common skin condition around. There are many types of acne, including blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. No matter what type(s) you are dealing with, the cause is similar. Hormones lead to an overproduction of sebum, which together with hair and skin cells can plug pores and lead to pimples.
That is not the whole story though — where there is acne, there are bacteria. Bacteria, normally found on the skin's surface in any case, mix with already clogged pores and begin causing inflammation. Together, bacteria and the resulting inflammation play a huge role in acne.
I Have Acne — What Now?
If regular facial cleansing doesn't work, you're likely to move on to one or more of the most common over the counter adult acne treatment. These tend to include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which both target acne, as ingredients. While these products work very well for large numbers of people with mild acne, the common wisdom of sticking with a product once you find one that effectively treats the problem you have doesn't hold true in this case. Many doctors recommend rotating different products to avoid developing resistance.
People with acne should:
- Use a mild facial cleanser, gently, twice a day.
- Choose non-comedogenic makeup if they use makeup.
- Avoid touching your skin when you are not cleansing it, especially with dirty hands. You don't want more bacteria on your skin. No, do not pop pimples!
- Stay out of the sun, as acne will make you more sensitive to it.
If over the counter products are not working well for you, however, and you continue to experience acne outbreaks, it might be time for you to enlist the help of a doctor, who can offer you prescription products.
Accutane, a well-known acne drug, isn't likely to be the first thing they will recommend, mind you — do not be surprised if your doctor recommends antibiotics as a first-line acne treatment, due to the presence of bacterial overgrowth. MinocinPac is an example of a very effective antibiotic treatment for acne, but this one also offers ingredients that soothe your skin.
Perhaps surprisingly, anti-androgen drugs (which target certain hormones) can also be an effective acne treatment for teenagers and older women alike. These drugs are used off label, but don't let that fool you into thinking they don't work.
Accutane may, indeed, be a drug that your doctor recommends as well. It is very effective at stopping the overproduction of sebum, but comes with serious side effects. Accutane is such a serious drug that women who use it should not get pregnant under any circumstances, and it can lead to bone density loss and episodes of aggression as well, so never take it lightly.
For other people, however, taking the Vitamin A derivative Retin-A is enough to stop acne, and it fights wrinkles to boot! You may also consider looking into laser therapy to treat your acne, as a stand-alone or in combination with medication.
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