Categorized | Acne

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Acne Treatment – 9 Myths and Real Facts About Acne

1. Acne and pimples are the same thing


Anyone who suffers from acne already knows the truth about this one. A minor breakout is probably because you have been burning the midnight oil or are a bit hormonal. Acne is a dermatological condition that needs treatment as early as you spot it (no pun intended). There are 5 different kinds of acne, ranging from moderate to severe and while the most common (acne vulgaris) can be treated with hormones, not all types can be. Some can even be made worse, so make sure you see a dermatologist who can treat your acne effectively.

2. Acne is just for kids


A quarter of male acne sufferers and half of female acne sufferers are adults. Most had the condition in their teens but many had clear skin all through their teens and only developed acne in their twenties, thirties and even forties.

3. Washing more will help


One study of acne found that not washing at all made acne worse but washing four times a day had the same ill-effect. The best approach was to use a mild cleanser twice and day, morning and evening. Adult acne in previously clear-skinned people may be caused by not keeping the skin clean. Dead skin cells mix with skins natural sebum and block the pores. While the acne may not improve through cleansing alone, keeping your skin gently clean makes sure that you don’t exacerbate the condition.

4. You’re just being vain


Not only can acne leave physical and emotional scars, it may be a sign of a more serious hormonal imbalance. Adult acne sufferers who had clear skin as teenagers are advised to be tested for abnormally high levels of testosterone (the hormone thought to be primarily responsible for acne).

5. Sunlight gives you clear skin


In some cases it can, but not when dealing with acne. Psoriasis has been known to respond well to UV light, but sunlight is only a temporary relief from acne. After prolonged exposure to the sun, the skin may backlash and make acne worse. There are also the small matters of skin cancer and aging to consider, so make sure you keep using sun screen. There are some that are better for acne sufferers than others (see our tips on acne treatments below).

6. Sugar gives you acne


Sugar won’t help you make friends with your dentist, but it won’t make much difference to your acne treatment. Common sense suggests that a healthy diet, plenty of rest and exercise will lower your stress levels and improve your fitness, which never hurt. Also, excessive consumption of some preservatives and additives that are often found in sugary foods have been linked to hormonal imbalances, but sugar by itself is not the enemy.

7. Keep your hair off your face


Mums say this because you like the way you look and wish you wouldn’t hide your face. The oil from your hair won’t make acne worse as long as you are keeping your skin gently cleaned. Just make sure you’re not hiding behind your hair – it sounds like a cliche but confidence really does make people more attractive than any other quality.

8. It will just disappear one day.


Although some cases of acne eventually disappear by themselves, even the most aggressive treatments will take 6-8 weeks to show any results. Even after this amount of time you may not see any improvement as acne treatment is often a case of trial and error for dermatologists and their patients. Everyone is different and finding the perfect combination of approaches may take some time.

9. Acne is inherited


The only thing that is inherited is the amount of testosterone (and other androgen-type hormones) that a person produces. If you develop acne, no-one will be able to tell you why and be suspicious of anyone who does – they may just be trying to sell you a “miracle cure”.

So what can I do about it?

There are a number of chemical and natural ways to combat acne. Try these after you’ve spoken to a good dermatologist, he or she will be able to help you decide the combination of treatments that suit you best.

Topical Creams

Available over the counter, you’ve probably used a few of these. They are designed to unblock pores so that your skins natural oils can move and be disposed of the way your skin intended. Pretty much anything containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid is good for mild cases of acne, in teenagers and adults. This is especially true when the cream is blended with an antibiotic. Make sure you use a sunscreen that is suitable for acne. You may need to drop the protection factor down from 30 to 15 or thereabouts to get away from the heavy greasy creams. Look for a sunscreen that comes in a gel or spray and contains an ingredient called Mexoryl (either the X or FX varieties) as these won’t clog your pores.

Prescription medications

For more severe cases, these will either be hormones or antibiotics and are often used over a couple of years to control and improve acne. Men often suffer from worse cases of acne than women because they produce more testosterone and prescription medications are more commonly used for men than for women. Acne medications containing the ingredient Isotretinoin are commonly prescribed but if you are a woman considering this treatment, be aware that it has been linked to severe birth defects so ask your dermatologist plenty of questions and make sure you feel comfortable with the information. The Pill is one option for women and has been proven to effectively combat some forms of acne.

Natural Treatments

Natural is a word that must be approached with caution. Mother Nature gave us many cures but also many poisons. There are also many ‘natural’ therapies whose ingredient list reads like the inventory of a chemical laboratory! Listed here are a few commonly used natural acne treatments but use your common sense and if you don’t know what it is, don’t put it in your body.

Witch-hazel: An all-purpose astringent used as a toner. This one is completely safe at the dosages found in most cosmetic products, but that may mean it’s too diluted to be an effective acne treatment. It does feel lovely on the skin after cleansing though.

Tea-tree oil: Can be great for treating occasional outbreaks of acne, but will probably be too harsh to skin to use for too long. Also, tea-tree oil can be damaging if you are taking acne medication as they may react and cause inflammation.

Oats: Not only do they taste great for breakfast, but oats used in a facial scrub (gently, please) provide a light exfoliant and antiseptic properties.

Vitamin A: Great for the eyesight but unfortunately toxic if taken at the dosage you need to combat acne.

Cosmetic surgery

An extreme approach to acne and acne scars, this usually involves dermabrasion or micro-dermabrasion with follow-up treatments that involve further sessions and take-home creams. Other options include laser treatment or light treatment. These may dramatically reduce acne, but all have potential side-effects as well as being expensive. If you choose this method of treating acne, research as many cosmetic surgery practitioners as you can, ask lots of questions and don’t ever feel rushed.

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