Spots are every teenager’s nightmare, and these days affect children as young as a few months old up to adults in their 50’s. Everyone gets the odd spot now and then, but acne is much more serious and can have both an effect on the physical self, and the mental well-being. Acne affects almost 90% of all teenagers and is, therefore, one of the most common medical conditions in the world.
Acne treatments range from the highly effective to those that are no better than the homemade acne treatments that have little or no effect on your acne.
Long-term acne that remains untreated, can cause distress and undermine your self-confidence.
Acne treatments come in a variety of different forms these days, and it’s very difficult to determine which are effective, and which are simply hype. The purpose of this site is to provide you with all the information on acne treatments, acne prevention methods, and most importantly to separate the hype from the truth.
You’ll find information on:
- The causes of acne, and which are most likely to be the cause of your acne
- A review of the different types of acne including, adult acne and cystic acne, how they differ from each other, and what acne treatments are most effective for each type.
- How taking certain vitamin and mineral supplements can dramatically improve your acne, including how much you should take of each supplement, to have the most dramatic effect on your acne.
- The influence that your diet has on both preventing and curing acne, including the type of foods you should eat, and a small list of foods to avoid.
- The best natural acne treatments, that are both safe, scientifically tested, and have a proven track record with ordinary users.
- Which acne products work and which don’t.
- What are the options in relation to dealing with acne scars, with details of how much each of the cost of the option, and how effective they really are.
What Causes Acne?
What causes acne? The mechanism is relatively simple! The sebaceous glands under the skin, produce too much oil (sebum). The oil combines with the cells that are present in the lining of these glands and clog the pores. This clogging of pores results in the production of whiteheads and blackheads, predominately on the face, back, neck shoulders, and chest.
It is not clear why the body produces excess sebum, but it’s clear this overproduction is a key contributor to an outbreak of acne and is influenced by genetics, hormones, and bacteria.
Although whiteheads and blackheads do not contain bacteria, pimples always contain bacteria. The bacteria in pimples (Propionibacterium acnes,) is commonly found on a person’s skin. However, people with extra sebum in their skin pores usually have more bacteria on their skin than people with less oil.
Hormones such as testosterone, stimulate particular glands in a person’s skin pores to make extra oil. It is not known why testosterone stimulates these glands, but clearly, the production of testosterone is most active during the teenage years (for both boys and girls), which are generally the most acne-prone years for an individual. Sometimes acne develops when a person takes certain medications. This type of acne usually clears up when the medication is stopped.
Newborns may develop baby acne because certain hormones are passed to them by their mothers just before delivery or because the stress of birth causes the baby’s body to release hormones on its own. Young children and older adults also may get acne. Their acne may be caused by rare conditions of the endocrine system.
Acne can be irritated or made worse by:
- High levels of stress. This is thought to be a key factor in the outbreak of adult acne
- Washing the face too often or scrubbing the face too hard. Using harsh soaps using very hot water can also aggravate acne.
- Excessive sweating can make acne worse.
- Using skin and hair products that contain chemicals that may irritate the skin.
- Wearing straps or other tight-fitting items that may rub against the skin, often make acne worse.
The good news is, that although there is no cure for acne, there are a number of things that can be done to both prevent acne from occurring, or effectively treating it when it does appear. All acne treatments are based on addressing the factors that cause acne in the first place. New treatments are being developed all the time, and you’ll find them at this site, as soon as they have been proved as being effective.
Can Adults get Acne?
The latest statistics from the American Dermatological society suggest that more adults are getting acne than ever before. In fact almost 50% of women and 25 % of men are affected by adult acne.
One of the biggest contributing factors to adult acne is the increased levels of stress that people are now under. For many, adult acne seems to come out of the blue, while others get it in their teens and never seem to get rid of it. Nobody really knows why so many more people are getting adult acne later on in life, but there does appear to be a clear link with stress.
Stress is thought to interfere with the normal hormonal balance. If you’ve been under a lot of pressure recently and you’ve started suffering from adult acne, the best thing you can do is to address the source of the stress. Until the stress is under control the acne you won’t see a dramatic improvement in your acne.
The standard treatments for adult acne are similar to those employed for teenage acne using mainly topical products, many of which contain benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is used to kill the P. Acnes located in the clogged pores. The use of topical solutions (creams, gels, or lotions) targets the result or symptoms of acne and not the cause. It also often dries not only “pimples” but also the skin around them. In adult acne, it is especially important to limit the number of pimples since dermatologists have known for many years that adult acne is more likely to leave permanent physical scars. The increased prevalence of scarring or pox marks is due to the fact that as the skin ages and loses collagen, it’s much harder for the skin to repair itself after tissue damage that is caused by inflammation and enlarged pores associated with acne.
What is Cystic Acne?
Cystic acne is one of the most severe forms of acne and occurs when the infected contents of a pustule or pimple erupt beneath the skin, rather than on the surface. The body’s natural defenses then try to fight the infection, leading to swelling and pain. Cystic acne often causes facial scarring. While it usually occurs spontaneously, cystic acne can be caused by scratching and picking at pimples.
Cystic acne can occur on its own, sometimes it can be the result of “picking” at existing pimples. The pressure of squeezing a pimple can cause the contents of the pimple to escape from the pore under the skin, resulting in a cyst. Cystic acne requires treatment with oral and topical antibiotics. Without treatment cystic acne may result in severe scarring. Elicina is a skin regenerator and a topical antibacterial alternative for mild acne cysts and can help prevent the formation of scars and helps to fight the bacterial infection.
When severe cystic acne fails to respond to other treatments, the dermatologist is likely to turn to Accutane (isotretinoin). This synthetic oral form of vitamin A works by decreasing the formation of oily plugs of sebum (the oil substance produced by sebaceous glands), reducing the formation of keratin (the tough outer layer of skin), and shrinking the sebaceous glands. Isotretinoin cures or greatly reduces severe disfiguring acne in up to 80% of patients. The course of treatment usually runs four or five months, after which the condition may continue to improve for at least two more months to a year. Sebum production then gradually returns to its pretreatment levels, but fewer than one-third of patients require a second course of the drug.
Accutane is reserved for people with severe cystic acne that is unresponsive to other treatments. However, dermatologists must perform a number of blood tests before administering Accutane, and women should not get pregnant while taking it because of the excessive risk of severe birth defects and spontaneous abortion associated with fetal exposure to the drug. Because many women who are prescribed Accutane are of childbearing age, they should not take retinoids unless they’ve used a reliable contraceptive method for one month prior to therapy, during therapy, and for one month after stopping therapy. Other dangerous side effects of retinoids may include corneal opacities, decreased night vision, inflammatory bowel disease, and hepatitis.
The effective treatment of cystic acne is a very serious matter, which needs to be carefully managed by a professional in the area.
How to Remove Acne Scars
In the simplest terms, scars form at the site of an injury to tissue. They are the visible reminders of injury and tissue repair. In the case of acne scars, the injury is caused by the body’s inflammatory response to sebum, bacteria, and dead cells in the plugged sebaceous follicle. Two types of true acne scars exist, depressed areas such as ice-pick scars, and raised thickened tissue such as keloids.
When tissue suffers an injury, the body rushes its repair kit to the injury site. Among the elements of the repair kit are white blood cells and an array of other chemicals that have the task of repairing tissue and fighting the infection. Unfortunately, when their job is done they may leave a somewhat messy repair site in the form of scar tissue, or eroded tissue. The severity of the acne scar left depends on the extent of ‘repair’ that has been done, and the extent of the original infection.
White blood cells and inflammatory chemicals may remain at the site of an active acne lesion for days or even weeks. In people who are susceptible to scarring, the result may be an acne scar. The occurrence and incidence of scarring is still not well understood, however. There is considerable variation in scarring between one person and another, indicating that some people are more prone to scarring than others. Scarring also may arise from more superficial inflamed lesions.
How to Get Rid of Acne
There is a lot that can be done to prevent acne from ruining your life! By following some relatively simple habits, you can reduce the level of acne you suffer from. The main areas of effort in acne prevention include a close look at:
- Your diet
- Your cleansing regime
- Consideration of taking vitamin and mineral supplements
- Amount of water you drink
If you follow the acne prevention advice on this page, you’ll be making some real positive steps to control your acne.
What role does your diet play in the prevention of acne?
The short answer is a vital one! Eating the wrong foods can worsen your acne. Two of the worst offenders from a diet point of view, are foods that contain a lot of fat, and foods that contain a lot of processed sugar. There have been some startling scientific research recently, that points out that acne is a disease of ‘Westernized Civilization’ Click here for the full paper in pdf format.
The key difference between those that don’t get acne at all and us westerners where almost 90% of us will suffer at some time or another, is the diet we eat. A diet of greasy fatty food, with highly processed sugars, is best avoided, and replaced with one that is abundant in fresh fruit, and vegetables. I know this is probably not what you want to here, and fortunately, there are a number of other things that you can do to support your efforts in acne prevention.
What skin cleansing routine will have the most positive effect on acne?
There are numerous non-prescription washes available for washing skin that has acne on it. If you have mild acne then these washes can be very effective in both eliminating the acne on your face but also in regard to acne prevention in the future.
The best way of using the cleanser is to create a lather from the cleanser and then gently apply it to your skin and wash it with your hands (and not a cloth) in a circular motion. Do not ‘scrub’ the skin and be quite gentle. After about a minute of this wash the cleanser off by splashing water on your face, and follow this by patting (not rubbing with a towel) the face dry.
If you follow this regime once in the morning and once at night, you’re doing the best you can to keep your skin free of excess oils, while retaining the essential nutrients required for healthy skin.
Are there any vitamin supplements that can help with acne prevention?
If you haven’t read the page on b5 supplements for acne, read it now!
Beyond taking additional b5 supplements consider taking vitamin A. Some of the most drastic medical treatments for acne involve powerful forms of vitamin A. It therefore probably makes sense to supplement your diet with a multivitamin that contains vitamin A.
The mineral zinc is closely affiliated with vitamin A, and is essential for healthy skin. Research has shown that people with moderate to severe acne have significantly lower zinc levels than people who do not have acne. Zinc is an antioxidant and is also known to boost the immune system. Acne infections destroy collagen and elastin fibers that make up skin. Zinc is frequently called the “clean-up enzyme,” as it is a co-factor in the removal of damaged tissue caused by acne and other injuries.The healing and repair of acne also requires zinc, and research has shown severe zinc deficiency within in active or chronic acne sites.
A good multivitamin from your local pharmacy should provide you with all you need for long term healthy skin, and towards your goal of acne prevention. If you don’t have access to a local pharmacy try a reputable supplier on the internet such as vitacost. Their prices are very reasonable and the range of vitamins and supplements they carry is vast.
What effect does water have on your acne?
Drinking plenty of water is essential for detoxifying your internal organs and most importantly your skin. Drink plenty of it and at minimum at least 8 glasses a day. This simple but effective step has so many associated health benefits, that there is no reason why you should not implement drinking plenty of pure water, or even better mineral water.