Acne, a disorder affecting most teenagers
and young adults, is a skin condition caused
by the over secretion of oily sebum from
the skin's sebaceous glands. Sebum and dead
skin cells clump and clog pores, which then
become infected with the P. Acnes bacteria
for which Acne is named. The infected pores
are often red and swollen, and, in some cases,
can rupture and cause scarring. Fortunately,
today there are many highly effective treatments.
To fight acne, wash your face once or twice
daily with a good facial cleanser to clean
your face of dead skin and oil. Different
types of cleansers are for different skin
types. For drier skin, try cleansers with
a built in moisturizer. If you have greasier
skin, consider a cleanser with salicylic
acid to help dry it out. Exfoliants can help
because they remove the dead skin cells that
can later clog pores. If you are using an
exfoliant, remember to moisturize afterwards
to prevent excessive drying of your skin.
Retin-A, or tretinoin, is a Vitamin-A derivative
and the treatment of choice if you have significant
numbers of blackheads or whiteheads. It works
by increasing your skin cell turnover rate
in order to promote purging of the plugged
material in pores. It also decreases the
amount of new whiteheads and blackheads.
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the oldest and
most frequently used treatments for acne.
It is a topical antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory,
generally used in combination with either
tretinoin or a topical antibiotic .
Topical antibiotics are excellent treatments
for mild and moderate acne. They kill the
bacteria that actually cause acne, decreasing
the number and severity of blemishes. They
will not help with whiteheads or blackheads,
however. Topical antibiotics come in many
forms: liquids are generally stronger than
gels, which are generally stronger than creams.
Gels and liquids are generally more effective
for people with oily skin because they contain
alcohol; creams are preferred for people
with drier skin because they offer more moisturization.
For severe acne, when there is significant
discomfort or risk of scarring, highly effective
oral antibiotics are available. These can
take up to a few months to see their full
effects but can completely cure some sufferers.
One such medicine is Acutane (isotretinoin),which
decreases the size of the sebaceous glands.
Though extremely effective, acutane also
has many side-effects and is only available
through prescription. Alternatively, there
is laser treatment, in which a pulsed dye laser is used to
vaporize the acne-causing bacteria.