According to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, acne is a skin disorder that is caused by inflammation of the hair follicles and skin glands. It’s estimated that 80 percent of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 have outbreaks of acne at least occasionally. The following information discusses what causes these skin conditions, the different types of acne, how to treat acne effectively as well as the scars that result from it.
What Causes Acne
The Mayo Clinic states that the four main causes of skin breakouts include bacteria, clogged pores, oil production, and dead skin cells. The face, chest, back, and neck areas have more oil glands than other parts of the body. The oil glands secrete a substance called sebum. Sometimes the body will produce extra amounts of sebum. Sebum, as well as dead skin cells, can build up in the glands. This in turn creates an environment in which bacteria can flourish. If pores become infected with the bacteria the area may become inflamed. The result is acne or pimples. The following list describes how hormones, as well as a variety of external factors, can also cause problems with our skin.
- Hormones – Hormones increase in both girls and boys during puberty. These hormones can cause glands to grow larger and produce more sebum.
- Diet – Some studies have indicated that foods such as chocolate and some dairy products and certain carbohydrates can cause or worsen skin conditions.
- Stress – Feeling stressed and anxious can cause a person to experience more breakouts. Being stressed releases the hormone cortisol in the body, which is related to an increase in acne.
- Medications – Certain medications, particularly those containing lithium, androgens, and corticosteroids, can make skin conditions worse.
Different Types of Acne
Acne.com describes several specific types of acne.
- Whiteheads – Whiteheads are medically known as Comedones. They are caused by excessive oil or sebum in the pores. This creates lesions after plugging the follicles in the skin. The lesions are white because the plugged areas aren’t exposed to air.
- Blackheads – Blackheads can also happen when follicles become plugged. The oil or sebum is exposed to air in this case, causing the lesions to turn a dark color.
- Papules – Papules are small, cone shaped bumps that are usually pinkish in color. They are basically inflamed whiteheads.
- Pustules – These are round lesions that are generally red in color with white or yellow centers.
- Back Acne – Breakouts on the back happen because of trapped oils in the skin. It can also occur when sweat is trapped under clothes. This can happen in particular to people who work out regularly.
- Cystic Acne – This is also called Nodulocystic acne. It’s a severe skin condition that is characterized by intense inflammation and redness. There are often several nodules and cysts on the skin and the condition can be very painful. This condition can leave scarring and should be treated by a dermatologist.
How to Treat Acne
There are many types of acne treatment available. Many people want to know how to get rid of acne fast, but the truth is it may take several weeks or longer for certain types of skin conditions to get better. The American Academy of Dermatology states that nearly every case of acne can be controlled. What works well for one individual may not be the best course of treatment for someone else. For minor blemishes such as whiteheads, blackheads, and smaller pustules and papules, the best treatment is usually over-the-counter medication that is applied topically to the skin. Products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are often recommended. Even though some products may claim they can completely clear the skin overnight, this usually won’t be the case.
For more severe skin conditions, a person may need to see a dermatologist for more extensive treatment. A dermatologist may treat the skin with a prescription strength topical ointment or cream. Some of these topical treatments reduce the amount of oil in the skin while others will help kill the bacteria. For serious types of nodules and cysts, the dermatologist might prescribe medicine that is taken internally. Certain types of antibiotics can help kill the bacteria and reduce any inflammation. Some medicines that may be used contain hormones to help heal the skin. There are also procedures other than medication that can be used to treat various skin conditions. Lasers and types of light therapies are sometimes used. Even chemical peels can be used to treat certain kinds of blemishes. It is important to note that the chemical peels dermatologists use can’t be purchased over-the-counter.
When determining how to get rid of cystic acne it’s best to seek the advice of a dermatologist. A procedure that is called drainage and extraction can be used to remove a large cyst. It may be recommended to use this procedure if medication has not been working effectively. This may also reduce the chance that the cyst will leave a scar. When trying to decide how to get rid of back acne things as simple as wearing loose fitting clothes may help eliminate excessive sweating or trapped oils on the skin. It might also help to shower right after exercising or any other strenuous activity.
Removing Acne Scars
Knowing how to get rid of acne scars is important for those who have suffered serious skin conditions. Everyday Health describes different types of scar removal methods.
- Dermabrasion – This method uses a high-speed brush to resurface the skin.
- Micro-Dermabrasion – Micro-dermabrasion is usually not as costly, doesn’t go as deeply into the skin, and has a quicker recovery time. It is generally a less intensive type of dermabrasion.
- Retinoic Acid – This is a type of cream that helps reduce the appearance of scars.
- Chemical Peels – This method can reduce shallow scars. Products with alpha hydroxy can be purchased over-the-counter but are not as strong as those used by a dermatologist.
- Fillers – Types of collagen or fat can be used to “fill-out” scarred skin. These only last, however, for about six months to a year.
The Private Clinic of Harley Street in the United Kingdom has used laser treatments to help remove scars left behind by severe skin conditions. Using a pixel laser, this minimally invasive procedure can help to remove scars left by a variety of skin problems. This laser treatment can also smooth rough skin and reduce the size of the pores. Using this treatment most patients will see immediate results.
What Can Make the Condition Worse
According to WebMD there are several things a person should not do when attempting to clear up blemishes. People sometimes want to know how to get rid of acne overnight and may attempt to try things that could actually make the condition worse. The following guidelines discuss what not to do when attempting to clear up blemishes.
Using Several Products at Once
In desperation to clear up a skin condition as quickly as possible a person may use several products at one time. The combination of ingredients in different products may irritate the skin and make the overall condition of the skin worse.
Not Giving a Product Enough Time
Blemishes on the skin can bother an individual both physically and emotionally. Sometimes in the rush to see results an individual doesn’t give the medication enough time to work properly. It can often take several weeks to heal.
Too Much Scrubbing
Scrubbing the skin excessively can cause irritation and damage the skin’s natural protective barrier.
Popping blemishes on the skin will only prolong the healing process and may even increase scarring.
Waiting to See a Dermatologist
If skin problems become painful and over-the counter medications aren’t working it’s probably time to visit a dermatologist.
Everyone’s skin is different, and therefore the problems are individual. Acne can occur for a variety of reasons and affect people in different ways. If a skin condition is starting to affect a person’s self-esteem or has caused scarring it’s recommended to see a professional. There are several methods available to prevent and treat various skin conditions as well as techniques that can remove any scarring.