Troubled with acne?

Acne is basically formed when a pore in your skin becomes blocked with dead skin cells or oil, creating a nice little home for acne bacteria. Acne comes in many forms so understanding what type of acne you have will help you select the most effective treatment to get clear skin fast.

COMEDONES

 A comedo, or basic acne lesion, is a hair follicle that has become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Comedones can develop into bumps called whiteheads and blackheads. Products that may trigger comedones are called “comedogenic.” Make-up labelled “noncomedogenic” is less likely to clog pores and contribute to acne.

TREATMENT

Apply an over-the-counter topical cream to the comedones. Use a face wash or cream that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide for best results.

BLACKHEADS

Blackheads are comedones that are open at the surface of the skin. They are filled with excess oil and dead skin cells. It’s not dirt that causes the comedone to turn black, but the oil’s reaction to air.. Blackheads can frequently be treated with over-the-counter medications.

TREATMENT

Professional services that include topical application of products containing retinoids (Vitamin A), benzoyl peroxide (antibacterial) or azelaic acid or salicylic acid.

WHITEHEADS

Comedones that stay closed at the surface of the skin are called whiteheads. This happens when oil and skin cells prevent a clogged hair follicle from opening.

TREATMENT

Many of the same treatments for blackheads are effective against whiteheads.

PAPULES

Papules are comedones that become inflamed, forming small red or pink bumps on the skin. This type of pimple may be sensitive to the touch. Picking or squeezing can make the inflammation worse and may lead to scarring. A large number of papules may indicate moderate to severe acne.

TREATMENT

The treatment of papules begins with a good monthly professional skincare regimen, all with a goal of reducing inflammation. This means applying a topical agent to help reduce acne inflammation such as salicylic acid. Applying a daily sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) higher than 15 also may help to reduce the chances for inflammation.

PUSTULES

Pustules are another kind of inflamed pimple. They resemble a whitehead with a red ring around the bump. The bump is typically filled with white or yellow pus. Avoid picking or squeezing pustules. Picking can cause scars or dark spots to develop on the skin.

TREATMENT

Use over-the-counter (OTC) acne medications, soaps, or creams to treat small acne pustules, along with monthly professional treatments to combat these symptoms.The best topical products for treating pustules contain peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur.

NODULES

Nodules are large, inflamed bumps that feel firm to the touch. They develop deep within the skin and are often painful. Nodules should be treated by a specialist. Over-the-counter treatments may not be powerful enough to clear them up.

TREATMENT

Seek professional help to correct the underlying issues and stop outbreaks

HOW DO ACNE TREATMENTS WORK?

Acne treatment products help control your breakouts by doing some or all of the following things:

• Increasing your skin cell turnover rate eg exfoliants, BHA, retinoids

• Killing bacteria eg antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil

• Reducing inflammation eg azelaic acid, diet

• Drying eg sulphur

• Balancing hormone eg birth control pills, lifestyle changes

• Eliminating oil eg Accutane

Understanding how an acne-fighting active works will help you select the most suitable product for your skin

SIMPLE RULES FOR TREATING ACNE

UNDERSTAND WHAT’S CAUSING YOUR ACNE:

If you know why your skin is breaking out, it will give you a better idea of how to start treating it and what treatment to use. Go through the list of acne symptoms and narrow down potential acne culprits. First, analyse your topical products such as shampoo, make-up, moisturisers to laundry detergent and be aware of ingredients to make sure they are not pore clogging. Once you rule out topical factors, you can then test internal reasons (ie diet, hormones, etc) for your acne. It can be difficult to tell what’s causing your acne and it can take a long time, so its always best to seek professional help before the symptoms develop into something greater.

Be treatment savvy (both topical and internal). Read about how they work, look at the both active and inactive product, read product reviews, and do as much research as you can before you buy or use anything. Test out new products on a small part of your skin before using it all over your face. Look at the active ingredient in the treatment that didn’t work and try another acne treatment with a different active. For example, if benzoyl peroxide did nothing for your pimples, look into using an AHA next. You may also want to try a different product with the same active ingredient because some actives are more effective in certain formulations. For instance, I will try 2-3 different BHA products before I rule out BHA as an ineffective acne fighter for my skin.

Use one acne treatment at a time. It’s tempting to use several products to try to get it to clear faster, but if you use more than one new treatment on your skin at a time, you won’t know which one is working or which one is making your skin worse. Testing one variable at a time will allow you to come to a clear conclusion about whether a certain product works or not. Too many variables at the same time confuse the skin.

Treat one skin issue at a time. You may be in a hurry to get clear skin and trying to get all your symptoms gone all at once eg active acne, red marks, and acne scars. However, doing so will only complicate the process of clearing your skin.

Using multiple products to treat different symptoms will have contraindications. It’s best to have a professional recommend a product that can treat the main concern, if not all the symptoms at once. It’s best to treat pimples first to prevent them from forming and then treat acne marks and scars after your skin is clear.

Don’t pick at your skin. When you do, you spread bacteria and increase the odds that you will get more future breakouts. Even if a zit looks like it’s about to pop, keep your hands away from your face at all times. If you really can’t help it, instead of squeezing, try putting a warm compress on the spot instead and have the skin cells release the toxins naturally.

Be patient! It usually takes two weeks for a pimple to form, so you should give a product at least 2-3 weeks (a month or more is better) to see if it will work. Acne doesn’t canvass your face overnight (if it does, it might be an allergic reaction instead of actual acne), so it takes time for it to leave your skin too. Have a skin care regimen for at least 2-3 weeks to see if it will work before trying a new treatment product.

Remain optimistic! If one treatment product doesn’t work, that just means you are one step closer to finding the acne treatment that will.

The original article is at: jamaicaobserver.com

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