–Written by Marusa Zamorano, MD, General Surgeon Specialised in Abdominal Surgeries, endoscopies and proctology–
Acne, a frustrating skin condition that turns our faces into a battleground of unwanted bumps and blemishes. In this guide, we’ll share with you some secrets, tip and tricks to preventing, treating and defeating acne, so you can regain control of your skin and boost your confidence in the process.
What is Acne and Why Does it Develop?
Acne, the nemesis of clear skin, occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. This leads to the formation of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. While acne is most common among teenagers, it can affect people of all ages.
Four main factors contribute to acne development:
- Excess Oil Production: Overactive oil (sebum) glands produce more oil than necessary, leading to clogged pores.
- Clogged Hair Follicles: When oil and dead skin cells accumulate in hair follicles, they create the perfect breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria.
- Bacteria: Propionibacterium acnes, a type of bacteria found on the skin, plays a role in acne development. When trapped in clogged pores, it causes inflammation and worsens acne symptoms.
- Inflammation: The body’s immune response to bacteria and clogged pores leads to redness, swelling, and the formation of pimples.
Now that we understand the root causes of acne, let’s see how to prevent and treat them effectively.
Preventing Acne: The Defense Strategies
Maintain a Consistent Skincare Routine:
- Cleanse your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells.
- Avoid scrubbing too vigorously, as it can irritate the skin and worsen acne.
Hands Off the Face:
- Keep your hands away from your face to avoid transferring dirt and bacteria, which can exacerbate acne.
- Resist the urge to pick or squeeze pimples, as it can lead to scarring and prolonged healing time. This one is hard to resist and it can become a bad habit so stop already! 😀
Hydrate Your Skin:
- Use an oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated without adding extra oil.
- Hydrated skin is less likely to produce excess oil and helps maintain a healthy skin barrier.
Watch Your Diet:
- While scientific evidence linking diet to acne is limited, some studies suggest that certain foods, such as carbohydrate-rich foods, may worsen acne for some individuals. Consider keeping a food diary to identify any potential triggers so you can be ready for defeating acne.
- While stress doesn’t directly cause acne, it can worsen existing acne. Practice stress-management techniques such as exercise, meditation, or engaging in activities you enjoy.
Treating Acne: The Battle Plan
- Start with over-the-counter acne products containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These help reduce oil, unclog pores, and kill acne-causing bacteria, a good way for defeating acne.
- If over-the-counter treatments don’t yield satisfactory results, consult a dermatologist for prescription-strength medications.
- Topical retinoids, antibiotics, and azelaic acid are common options that help reduce inflammation, kill bacteria, and promote skin cell turnover.
- For moderate to severe acne, oral antibiotics such may be prescribed to control bacteria and reduce inflammation.
- Combined oral contraceptives can also be an option for women, as they regulate hormone levels and reduce acne.
- Light therapies, chemical peels, and drainage/extraction procedures are additional options that a dermatologist may recommend to improve acne symptoms and reduce scarring.
Remember to maintain a consistent skincare routine, practice good hygiene habits, and seek professional help if needed. Accept your unique beauty as a starter, knowing that acne doesn’t define you. With perseverance and the right strategies, you can beat acne and welcome the clear, confident skin you deserve.