Acne is also known as pimples, blemishes, and zits. It is a skin condition that typically appears on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders, which are areas of your skin that have a large number of oil glands. Formation of acne is caused by the buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria in the hair follicles (skin pores). On a daily basis, your skin sheds dead cells and produces oil, and the rate at which this happens is affected by hormones. Acne occurs when these natural processes are off-balance.
Anyone! Over 90% of teenagers develop acne, and it is estimated that about 25% adults between the ages of 25-45 experience acne as well. As mentioned before, acne formation is related to hormonal levels, which fluctuate throughout your life. Acne caused by hormonal imbalance is especially common among:
- Teenagers, both boys and girls.
- Women and girls, 2-7 days before their periods.
- Pregnant women.
- People using certain medications that affect hormonal levels.
Treatment for Acne:
A variety of over-the-counter skin care products are available to treat acne. Most of them include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as their active ingredient. They help to reduce oil production, speed up skin cell turnover, fight bacterial infection, and/or reduce inflammation. These products are available in many forms, such as gels, lotions, creams, soaps, or pads. With time and some trial-and-error, you will find the products that work best for you.
For more severe cases, you can talk to your doctor or dermatologist about a prescription medication, which can be used on the skin or taken by mouth. A combination of products may be used together. With most prescription acne treatments, it may take weeks to see results. Talk to your health care provider for recommendations and advice.
Yes, acne can cause scars in some people. You can help reduce scarring by not squeezing or picking at blemishes. Also, avoid scrubbing your skin. If scarring does occur, various treatment options are available. Acne scar treatments usually require that a person’s skin is free of active acne. Opinions are mixed on the effectiveness of these treatments. Focus first on getting your skin clear of active acne, and then you can talk to your doctor to decide whether a scar treatment is right for you.
- Avoid direct skin exposure to oily substances, including oil-based cosmetics.
- Avoid friction or pressure caused by items such as cell phones, helmets, and backpacks on acne-prone areas.
- Wear as little makeup as possible because they can clog up skin pores.
- Completely remove any makeup before going to bed.
- Keep your skin clean, but do not wash acne-prone areas for more than twice a day because too much washing can
irritate the skin and make the acne problem worse.
- Use a gentle cleanser and skin care products that are suitable for your skin type.
- Use an over-the-counter acne treatment to help dry excess oil.
- American Academy of Dermatology: http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_acne.html
- Acne.org: http://www.acne.org/