What is Acne?
Acne or acne vulgaris is commonly referred to as pimples. It’s a skin disease that commonly occurs during puberty.
This condition is caused by clogging of the skin follicles, which are tiny passages that connect oil glands in the body with the tiny opening on the skin.
These oil glands produce a substance known as ‘sebum’ that helps carry the dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. Follicles also contain thin hair growths. At times, the hair, sebum, and the dead skin cells clog together to form a lump on the skin. This causes bacterial growth in the affected area causing swelling which may lead to pimples.
Acne is usually found on the forehead, back, and shoulders. It is not a very serious medical condition but it can cause scars. At times, it can lead to stress, anxiety, low self-confidence and in rare cases depression.
Different types of Acne
Acne could take various forms. Some of these include:
- Whiteheads: Acne which remains within the skin surface and is not visible on the face
- Blackheads: These kinds of acne are seen on the surface of the skin and are black in color
- Papules: These are pinkish on color & do not have any puss in them
- Pustules: This acne is red on the surface and is filled with pus on the top
- Nodules: These are large and painful acne deep in the skin
- Cysts: These kinds of acne are painful, deep and filled with pus. These can also cause scars
What causes Acne?
Though the exact reasons are not known, there are few known factors that might trigger clogging of skin follicles and cause acne. These include:
- Hormonal changes in teenage years & during pregnancy
- Using birth control pills
- Genetic factors
- Excessive use of make-up products
Skin care for people who have acne:
- You should clean your skin gently twice a day (morning and night) with a mild cleanser. You should make sure that you shouldn’t rub or scrub your acne as they will make the condition worse.
- Try and not touch your acne or play with them or try to remove them with your fingers. This might cause scars or dark spots on your skin.
- If your hair is too oily, try and shampoo daily to avoid acne.
- Always choose your make up correctly according to your skin type.
- Avoid too much contact with the sun, as people on medicines for acne are more prone to sun burn.
Management of Acne (Medicinal Approach)
Treatment of Acne depends on the various factors that have caused the acne like excess sebum, inflammation, clogging of follicles, hyper proliferation (abnormal cell division) of follicles, etc. The treatment also depends on the severity and seriousness of the acne. Few of the most common medications used to treat acne are retinoid-like agents (compounds that have effects like vitamin A on the body), antibiotics, selective aldosterone antagonists and estrogen/progestin combination oral contraceptive.
Management of Acne (Natural Approach)
The usual medicinal acne treatments are not always effective for everyone. They at times might also cause side effects like skin irritation, redness, swelling, etc. Apart from these, as antibiotics are used also used in various acne treatments, it can cause antibiotic resistance. There are several natural and alternative treatments for acne which are safe and effective.
Few natural remedies that might help to improve your acne are mentioned below:
- Ice for reduction of pores – People having a very porous skin can take ice cubes and gently scrub it over the affected areas. The cold temperatures of ice constrict the blood vessels under the skin reducing the irritation and inflammation.
- Tea tree oil (Melaleuca oil) – Melaleuca oil has significant anti-fungal and antibacterial herbal remedy, hence very useful for mild to moderate acne.
- Egg oil. Egg yolk oil contains immuno globulins which kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. The Omega-3 fatty acids help naturally heal pimples without leaving scars.
Apply egg oil on the acne affected area twice a day, massaging gently for 2-3 minutes.
Leave it on for an hour and then wash it off with a mild face wash.
Continue use until the pimple is completely healed and continuous (unbroken), healthy skin appears. Stopping mid-way may cause the acne to spread again.
- Honey Mask. Apply raw honey directly onto your face, or mix it with a little bit of water or green tea. Leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes for optimal absorption. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat your face dry. Always apply moisturizer after rinsing off a mask.
- Potassium alum can usually be found in the spice aisle in some grocery stores. Alum is a natural antiseptic and astringent, meaning that it shrinks skin tissue.
Try to get a big block instead of in powder form. Powdered alum can be a little too abrasive. Gently wipe the alum over the affected areas, being careful not to irritate or inflame any pimples.
Management of Acne (Lifestyle Changes)
- Reduce intake of refined carbohydrates (for example bread, pasta, etc). It’s also good to cut down excessive sugar.
- Probiotic rich foods – Probiotics are microorganisms that have beneficial effects when eaten. Fermented foods like goat cheese or natural yogurt contain probiotics, but you can get them by taking natural supplements also. Probiotics interfere with the clogging of acne-and-inflammation causing bacteria, thus helping in reducing acne.
- Good vegetable diet – A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains gives the body the energy it needs and won’t force it to metabolize junk that could cause acne.
- Avoid sweet drinks – It’s more advisable to drink unsweetened green tea rather than other sweet drinks. Green tea contains antioxidants that keep your body healthy and may reduce the acne.
- Exercise daily – Exercising daily is a very good way to reduce or remove stress, which causes acne.
- Good sleep – The more you sleep the lesser stress your body goes through. Stress can cause an imbalance of the hormone that regulates sebum leading to acne.