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Living with Acne
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Living with Acne

 We’ve all been there: waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and seeing an unwanted visitor growing on the most public part of your body. We’ve all felt the frustration but not all of us know the science behind what these pesky growths are.

At its simplest, acne is a skin condition where dead skin cells and oil clog hair follicles. This manifests itself as one of the three unsightly conditions that we’ve all seen: blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Generally, areas of the body with higher counts of skin glands will be more prone to develop acne. For most people the main area of concern is their facial region which happens to have a high count of skin glands.

Comedomes are blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads can be defined as an open skin oil clogged pore while whiteheads are closed skin. Pimples or pustules are similar to whiteheads but have a larger build up of dead skin cells and often have associated swelling and inflammation.

Acne typically develops during puberty, because hormones have a large role in producing acne. 80%-90% of teenagers suffer from some sort of acne. Oil producing glands are sensitive to testosterone, which is present in both males and females. Acne can begin later in life as well, starting in your twenties or thirties.

Acne Bacterium, live on everyone’s skin; however, in those prone to acne, the skin and oil build-up allows a perfect environment for this bacteria to multiply, leading to pus filled or red spots.

Simple things that you can do to try and prevent and minimize the effect of acne include: face cleaning on a regular basis with a mild soap, ensuring skin is free of oil and other contaminants. Scrubbing too hard can actually worsen your acne. Avoid picking or squeezing your spots, as it can lead to scarring. Choose makeup that is water based and are oil free. They should say on them “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic”. Wash your sleeping pillow on a regular basis. There is little evidence that any foods in particular cause acne. It is generally recommended that you have a balanced diet with fresh fruit and vegetables.

Depending on the seriousness of your acne, speaking with a doctor or dermatologist may be required. They will be able to prescribe you medications and make a more formal diagnosis. The most non-invasive acne treatments involve topical treatments that you apply directly to your skin and are typically the first choice for people with mild to moderate acne. These include agents with benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, retinoids, azelaic acid and nicotinamide.

If your acne is more severe, you may require oral therapy. This can include oral antibiotic treatment for up to 6 months, or going on a oral contraceptive pill. Some oral contraceptives have a hormone blocking agent in it that helps to decrease the oil that your skin produces. Isotretinoin is a powerful oral agent that can work up to 2 years after taking it. However it can have very serious side effects and is typically only prescribed in very severe cases as a last resort. Speak to your doctor or dermatologist about these medications before they are prescribed to ensure that they are right for you and you are aware of the associated risks. You should also be aware that it may take a couple months of treatment before you notice any results.

Although acne can be very personal and erode self confidence, remember that almost everyone has experienced the condition to some degree. Seeking treatment early helps to prevent worsening and scarring of your skin. Speak to your pharmacist, physician or dermatologist about acne to determine what treatment is right for you.

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