Antalvisc24th November 2017
Most teenagers will have a few blackheads and pimples, and some will have more severe and inflamed acne. As the body’s hormone levels change, especially during adolescence, the hair follicles and oil glands of the skin may be affected. Although it is most common in teenagers, acne can occur at any age.
Acne commences when the sebaceous ducts in the skin become blocked by skin overgrowth to form a whitehead, or by plugs of sebum which darken on exposure to air forming a blackhead When the sebum trapped in the whitehead or blackhead is forced into the deeper skin layers, an inflammatory reaction causes a red lump called a papule. If infection follows, pus collects and the classic pimple is seen. When the inflammatory condition is severe, large, painful cysts may form. Bacteria propionibacterium acnes can cause inflammation causing scarring or hyperpigmentation.
Other factors that can cause acne:
- Some skin care and hair care products increase the amount of oil on the skin and may block the hair follicle e.g. oil-based make-up, hair oils, sun tan oils, soap and liquid soap washes.
- Working with oils and greases may also increase the amount of oil on the skin e.g. deep frying foods.
- Scrubbing, scratching, squeezing or picking the skin.
- Sweating a lot.
- High humidity.
- Hormonal changes e.g. prior to a period, thought to be due to changes in progesterone levels.
- Stress, anxiety or illness.
- Medications includes steroids, lithium, some anti-epileptics.
The aim of treatment is to remove the plugs, so that the sebum is able to flow freely, and to reduce the bacteria on the skin. Treatment should reduce come done formation.
Regular cleansing of the skin morning and night, including after exercise, is vital to controlling the oiliness of the skin. Use a non-soap cleanser at all times. Some cleansers also contain antibacterial agents to reduce bacteria on the skin’s surface.
Treatment for acne includes:
- Topical agents used to unblock the comedone (eg. benzoyl peroxide) – has a keratolytic action, which increases the turnover of skin cells, helping the skin to peel, and also antibacterial properties, which should help to reduce the skin flora.
- Topical or oral agents to reduce the bacteria (eg. tetracycline, doxycycline, clindamycin, erythormycin).
- Medicines used to reduce the activity of the sebaceous gland.
- Anti-inflammatory agents.
- Topical retinoids have anti-inflammatory effect and also comedolytic effect. (Tretinoin)
- Gently cleanse the area affected by acne twice a day and after exercise. Use an antibacterial wash morning and night and a gentle soap substitute at other times. It is important to ensure that the non-soap cleanser selected does not block your pores. Pat dry with a soft towel.
- Do not pop, squeeze or pick at acne.
- Heavy oil-based facial products can make acne worse. Use water-based makeup moisturizers and sunscreen.
- Thoroughly remove makeup at the end of the day.
- Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruits and water. This will improve general health and be reflected in the condition of the skin.
- Eat a diet rich in antioxidants such as berries, brightly colored vegetables like carrots and tomatoes.
- Zinc – Essential mineral used for wound healing and the normal oil gland function of the skin. It is also involved in the maintenance of vitamin A levels, for protein synthesis and to help maintain hormonal balance.
- Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) – Contains essential fatty acids (GLA, LA) which help to dilute sebum that over secreted in some people with acne. Besides, EPO also help in reducing the risk of pores becoming clogged and lesions developing.
Note: Doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat acne. However, you may start with natural options first as some of these medications are associated with adverse effect.
*Consult a pharmacist at Lovy Pharmacy when choosing a supplement for your condition.