Acne may be associated with your teenage years, but anyone can get acne. It’s a common skin problem that can cause pain and distress and affect self-esteem.
This article breaks down the different types of acne, the potential triggers that can worsen acne symptoms, and the various treatment options available.
What Is acne?
Acne (vulgaris) is a dermatological disorder characterized by pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, nodules, and cysts on the skin. It occurs when the hair follicles get clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.
Types of acne
There are several types of acne, including:
- Fungal acne (Pityrosporum Folliculitis): This type of acne arises from an overgrowth of yeast on the skin. It commonly appears on the face, chest, or back as small, itchy, red bumps or pimples.
- Cystic acne: This severe acne involves deep-seated, painful cysts beneath the skin. These cysts can persist for an extended period and may leave scars upon healing.
- Hormonal acne: Hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, menstruation, or menopause, can trigger an imbalance in hormone levels. This hormonal imbalance leads to excessive sebum production, which clogs pores and contributes to acne breakouts.
- Comedonal acne: This type of acne is characterized by non-inflammatory lesions, primarily blackheads and whiteheads. Blackheads are open comedones, appearing as black due to oxidation of sebum exposed to air. Whiteheads, on the other hand, are closed comedones, remaining beneath the skin’s surface and appearing as white bumps.
- Nodular acne: A severe form of acne, nodular acne manifests as large, painful, inflamed nodules deep within the skin. These nodules can cause significant discomfort and may lead to scarring if ruptured.
What causes acne?
Several factors can cause acne, including abnormal follicular keratinization (the process that leads to clogged pores), excessive sebum production, inflammation, and genetics.
Triggers that can worsen acne symptoms differ from person to person but may include hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, dietary factors, and certain skincare or cosmetic products that contain pore-clogging ingredients.
Managing and treating acne
Acne treatment varies depending on the severity of the acne. For mild to moderate acne, self-care practices and over-the-counter (OTC) medications often suffice.
Moderate to severe acne may require professional medical intervention.
Self-care practices for mild to moderate acne
While not all acne can be prevented, adopting good skincare habits can effectively manage and reduce breakouts. Here are some essential self-care practices for mild to moderate acne:
- Cleanse Gently Twice Daily: Use a mild, non-comedogenic cleanser two times daily to remove oil and dirt without stripping away essential moisture. Overwashing can irritate the skin and worsen acne.
- Moisturize Regularly: Regularly moisturizing your skin is crucial, even if it’s oily or acne-prone. Opt for an oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturizer that won’t clog pores and provides hydration.
- Resist the Urge to Touch or Pick: Picking or popping pimples can lead to further inflammation, scarring, and potential infection. Avoid touching your face and resist the temptation to extract blemishes.
- Choose Non-Comedogenic Products: When selecting skincare and cosmetic products, look for the label “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free.” These products are formulated to avoid clogging pores and triggering breakouts.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for acne treatment
When self-care practices alone are not enough, over-the-counter medications can help treat mild to moderate acne. These medications often contain active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or sulfur. These ingredients work by reducing oil production, unclogging pores, and reducing inflammation.
Examples of OTC medications for acne treatment include benzoyl peroxide creams or gels, salicylic acid cleansers or spot treatments, and sulfur-based topical treatments.
Tea tree oil also works as a natural alternative for acne treatment.
The bottom line
Acne, while a common skin condition, can be effectively managed with self-care practices, over-the-counter medications, and, if necessary, professional medical treatment.
By understanding the different types of acne and their underlying causes and adopting appropriate management strategies, you can achieve clearer, healthier skin and boost your self-confidence.