According to PubMed Central, an estimated 9.4% of people worldwide have acne. In the United States, acne is the most common skin condition according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) as it affects up to 50 million Americans annually.
What is Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition that happens when the pores become clogged with sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria. A mild form of acne is what we call pimples. If you get these painful pimples often especially several all at once, that may be acne. Acne usually appears where oil glands are more prominent such as the face, forehead, chest, shoulders, and upper back.
Types of Acne
- Fungal acne: This is when yeast builds up in your hair follicles. These can be itchy and inflamed.
- Cystic acne: These are deep, pimples, pustules, and nodules usually resulting in scarring.
- Hormonal acne: This occurs when there is an overproduction of sebum that clogs their pores.
- Nodular acne: This is a severe form of acne that appears mostly under the skin with large, tender, nodular lumps under the skin.
Causes of Acne
- Oil buildup, bacteria, dead skin cells and dirt contributes to acne.
- Exposure to environmental toxins.
- Incorrect use of personal care products i.e., using a product not designed for skin.
- Side effects of medication.
- Picking at the skin.
- Diets play a major role.
- An increase in androgen hormones (a substance capable of developing and maintaining masculine characteristics in reproductive tissues).
Acne is ranked based on its severity, on a scale of grade 1 to grade.
- Grade 1 (mild): Mostly whiteheads and blackheads, with a few papules and pustules.
- Grade 2 (moderate or pustular acne): Multiple papules and pustules, mostly on the face and back.
- Grade 3 (moderately severe or nodulocystic acne): Numerous papules, pustules, and occasionally inflamed nodules. The back and chest may also be affected.
- Grade 4 (severe nodulocystic acne): Numerous large, painful, and inflamed pustules and nodules.
There are several ways to treat acne because treatment is based on age, severity, and type of acne. The goal of acne treatment is to stop new pimples from forming and to heal the existing blemishes. Some of these treatments are:
- Topical acne medications – These are medications directly applied to your skin like a lotion or a moisturizer. These products usually contain one of the following ingredients benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids.
- Oral acne medications – These are pills that you take by mouth. Types of oral acne medications could include antibiotics or isotretinoin.
- Lasers – Lasers and light therapy treat acne scars. Lasers deliver heat to the scarred layer under the skin. This relies on your body’s wound-healing response to create new, healthy collagen, which encourages the growth of new skin to replace it.
- Chemical peels – This treatment uses special chemicals to remove the top layer of dead skin. After the removal of the top layer of skin, new skin grows smoother and as such lessens acne scars.
- Facials – Regular facials will help control the oil/sebum production and clear out existing pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads and improve skin discoloration.
- Home care system – Using the right products is as important as the treatments. A skincare professional can point you in the right direction regarding the best way to treat your acne.
6 ways to take care of acne care at home.
If you have acne, you can start an at-home skincare routine to improve your acne by:
- Washing your skin at least once daily with warm (not hot) water and a gentle and/or treatment cleanser. Cleansers can be found over the counter, recommended by an esthetician, or prescribed by a dermatologist.
- Keep skin clean after excessive sweating.
- Avoid using skin care products that can irritate your skin.
- Remove your makeup at the end of the day.
- Choose an oil-free moisturizer.
- Avoid popping, picking, or squeezing the skin. Let your skin heal naturally to prevent scarring and discoloration.