We all know what it is, we've all suffered from the odd breakout here and there, and we all question why, why does this hideous beast exist and how can we keep it at bay. Our Merrylands/Parramatta skin therapists will clarify this for here.
Acne affecting 85 per cent of Australians aged 15-24 and is the most common skin disorder. Though it can appear anywhere, the face, neck, chest, shoulders and upper back are the areas mainly affected by acne due to the fact that these areas consist of a higher number of oil glands. Let’s begin with the science, what is the real cause behind acne. Our skin is a complex organ made up of different layers, cells, glands, blood vessels, nerves, proteins and fatty acids just to name a few. One of its components is the pore which contains a follicle, hair and sebaceous glands (oil glands). Our sebaceous glands are responsible for keeping our skin soft, smooth and wrinkle free, as well as helping our skin to shed dead skin cells. Sounds great right? The problem is when these glands start producing too much oil that’s when all hell can break loose. Our pores can’t cope with the extra oil, it becomes clogged and dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells build up causing further blockage. This is called a comedone or plug. The bump that forms is either a whitehead known for its white tip, if the plug forms a dark tip then it’s called a blackhead if a plug breaks open swelling occurs resulting in red bumps called pimples, and the worst of the culprits cystic acne categorised by hard deep painful cysts under the skin.
Though acne is most common in teenagers due to puberty and physical development, many still suffer from acne well into their adult life. Acne is closely linked to a hormonal imbalancement. Reason being that androgens (sex hormones) namely testosterone is directly liked to our sebaceous glands and acts as a messenger turning on a switch which causes the glands to produce more oil. These hormonal changes include puberty, menstrual period, pregnancy, menopause, the pill, stress and conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. Genetics play their part where acne is concerned with researching showing that if you have a family history of acne, it may also increase your chances of developing acne too. Other triggers are greasy or oily skincare products, make-up and hair products, climate especially high levels of humidity causing excessive perspiration, certain medications such as steroids, and hormone replacement therapy. Although chocolate and greasy fried food doesn't directly cause acne, they do put a strain on your lymphatic system making it harder for your body to rid toxins and toxins can cause breakouts. Having said this diet high in refined sugar are said to contribute to aggravating acne.
· A proper home skincare regime is paramount. There are a number of skincare products that claim to be the cure, the miracle cream and yes this can all seem daunting and disheartening especially when you try and try and it just doesn't work. Most of the time its due to the active ingredients uses or the lack thereof, as well as the concentrate percentage. Active ingredients have the ability to penetrate deep into the dermal layer of the skin where your cells are made therefore your helping to treat the problem at the source instead of attempting to treat acne on the surface after the damage is done, this simply does not work. AHA’s such as glycolic acid and BHA’s such as salicylic acid have been scientifically proven to successfully manage acne. But to date one of the key components is Vitamin A, keeping mind there are different forms of vitamin A the 3 main forms used are Retinoic acid, Retinol and Retinal parmitate. Your qualified therapist will recommend the products that will best treat your individual condition.
· Shampoo your hair daily if it is excessively oily. Comb or pull your hair back to keep the hair out of your face. Avoid using hair products such as hair spray, hair gel, hair wax and mousse.
· Try not to squeeze, scratch, pick, or rub the pimples. Although it might be tempting to do so, it can lead to skin infections, scarring and more breakouts.
· Avoid touching your face with your hands or fingers.
· Avoid comedogenic (clogging) cosmetics or creams Mineral make up is best as are products that contain no mineral oils or parabins.
· Always remove make-up at before going to bed.
· Do not over wash your face, this will send the wrong message to your oil glands tricking them into producing more oil.
· There are many prescription medications that can help to treat acne though most have many side effects. It is best to thoroughly discuss these options your doctor. These medications include
· Topical antibiotics (applied to the skin) such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or dapsone
· Oral antibiotics (taken by mouth) such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, erythromycin, trimethoprim, and amoxicillin
· Oral Isotretinoin (Accutane
· Retinoic acid cream or gel (tretinoin, Retin-A)
· Prescription formulas of benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid
· Topical azelaic acid
· A pill called spironolactone may help
· Birth control pills may help in some cases, though they may make acne worse
There are a number of in clinic treatments that help to target different types of acne. Some treatments may be done alone while some may benefit from a combination of treatments. The most common treatments are;
Facials are generally best for mild acne and involve steaming, deep cleansing, extractions, clay mask and facial massage
There are many different types of Laser treatments to help treat acne as well as acne scarring. The principle involves using highly focused lasers to kill the bacterium that often causes bacteria. Some types of laser treatments help to eliminate overactive sebaceous glands. While others are focused on stimulating collagen and elastin to help improve the appearance of scarring.
Light treatment involves using lower-level ultraviolet light to destroy bacteria-based acne. Blue light therapy is a popular type of light therapy. The drawback of light therapy is that it is an ongoing process that requires multiple visits to continuously kill bacteria.
The most common types of chemical peels used are AHA’S, BHA’S and enzymatic. They work by helping to accelerate the skin shedding process therefore preventing pore blockage, unclogging existing blockage and helping to fade scars.
Microdermabrasion consists of two methods of application. One is through using highly refined aluminium dioxide crystals to remove the top layer of skin. The other uses a diamond head to exfoliate the top layer of skin. Both methods help to unclog pores and prevent congestion. This type of treatment is best for mild acne and not appropriate for cystic acne or whiteheads as it aggravate the condition and may cause the spreading of bacteria.
When fighting acne it is important to remember that there is no one miracle overnight treatment. The fight against acne has to be viewed as a progressive process incorporating the best methods for individual circumstances. Acne is best treated internally and externally.