Acne (pimples) is a common, self-limiting skin condition that affects boys and girls in their teenage and early youth. In some cases, acne persists even up to 35-40 years of age.
Acne care is demanding but doable though it requires persistence and prudence in a lot of cases.
Most of the acne care is self-managed and does not require medication.
Besides actual treatment, there are certain dos and don’ts that should be followed for acne care. Some simple measures and precautions can help in reducing the severity as well as complications of acne that may occur later.
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Causes of Acne
The skin of some people has oil-producing glands that are sensitive to normal levels of hormones. These glands produce excess oil that mixes with dead skin cells. Both these substances clog the skin pores that produce blackheads and whiteheads.
Some bacteria, that are usually present on your skin which doesn’t cause any problem, multiply in oily skin conditions resulting in redness, swelling, and formation of red pus-filled spots.
Other causes of acne include contraceptive injections or pills, medicines containing hormones that trigger acne, unusual hair growth or hair loss, irregular periods, or other changes to your body.
Acne can be hereditary.
Dos and Dont’s Of Acne Care
Don’t pick or squeeze your acne
Although tempting, you should never pop or squeeze a pimple. Squeezing can push bacteria, pus, and debris deeper into the skin, causing more inflammation and redness. Squeezing also can lead to scabs and lead to permanent scarring. It may also lead to hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin once the inflammation subsides.
Clean your face with soap-free products and water
Cleanse with a gentle soap-free cleansing bar or cleanser with slightly acidic pH (pH=5.5).
People with oily skin can use cleansing agents containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide both of which are quite effective against acne. People with dry skin should use mild cleansers. Face wash containing glycolic acid and lactic acid are helpful as they help in gentle exfoliation of the skin.
Different skin care products may react differently to a particular skin type. You may require some trial and error method to find the best skin cleansing product suitable for you.
Don’t wash your face excessively
While keeping the skin clean is important to prevent and worsen the acne, excessive washing is not recommended.
Frequent and excessive washing deprives the skin of its moisture and this may lead to rebound oil secretion. Cleaning the face twice a day is usually sufficient.
Don’t use excessive cosmetics, oil or cream on your face
Excessive use of cosmetics should be avoided. If you choose to wear makeup, use brands that are oil-free or water-based as they are less likely to cause blockages of skin pores and acne breakouts. Also, the products used should be hypo-allergenic and fragrance-free.
Make sure to wash off the makeup from your face before going to bed as the continuous application can irritate the skin.
Avoid excessive use of oils or creams on your face as that can trigger acne.
Don’t rub your face vigorously
Vigorous rubbing can cause irritation of the skin and aggravate acne. You can use a soft cloth or a wet tissue to gently clean up or wipe your face.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water promotes proper skin hydration. It helps to get rid of dead skin cells, removes the toxins from the body, and keeps the skin soft and supple.
Dry skin itself is a trigger for excess oil production, which could worsen acne. So for healthy skin and preventing acne, you should aim to consume at least 8 glasses of water daily.
If you are prone to acne, you need not make severe dietary restrictions. However, it is important to follow general food guidelines for achieving overall good health. These include eating more of whole food grains along with fresh fruits and vegetables. Refined carbohydrates and excess sugar should be avoided.
Switching to low-glycemic index carbohydrates is thought to help acne by reducing the blood sugar fluctuations. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how slowly or quickly a certain food increases your blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, sugary cereals, candy, and ice cream, cause marked fluctuations in blood sugar and can aggravate acne.
Although recommended by some, there is no definite scientific evidence that eliminating dairy from diet reduces the severity of acne. Such a drastic step may be detrimental for children and teenagers in their growing years.
Don’t follow miracle cures
While the internet is flooded with special formulations, supplements, herbs, and creams that claim to miraculously cure acne, the truth is that most of these simply don’t work.
There is no scientific evidence to prove that home remedies like garlic, apple cider vinegar, Milk of Magnesia (magnesium hydroxide), etc. are effective against acne.
In some instances, such treatments may cause contact dermatitis and make the skin condition worse. So do not get lured by such false claims and use medications that have proven efficacy like benzoyl peroxide or prescription acne medications.
See a dermatologist
It is ok to use over the counter medicine for a small outbreak and in certain cases, you may be completely cured.
However, if your acne does not respond to self- care and treatment, it is best to see a dermatologist who can guide you regarding the correct treatment. Treatment includes medicines like topical or oral antibiotics, retinoids, etc. The sooner you visit your doctor, the lesser is the likelihood of developing complications like scarring, hyperpigmentation, etc.
Don’t feel low or depressed
Acne outbreaks can affect a person emotionally and result in low self-esteem. Treatment may take some time to become effective resulting in frustration and even depression.
Such emotions become all the more significant in the case of teenagers for whom looks and peer-approval are of utmost importance. Parents, family members, or well-meaning friends should provide emotional support so as to tide over the negative feelings. The help of a therapist may also be sought for.