Acne, our most common skin disorder, is characterized by white heads, black head, pimples and cysts. Nearly everyone is afflicted at same time in life but acne is particularly common in teenagers. The hormonal changes of puberty and large the skin's sebaceous glands, increasing their output of an oily substance called sebum. A build-up of sebum mixed with bacteria, dead skin cells and other debris clogs pores, leading to one or more forms of acne. Birth control pills are sometimes a triggering factor.
Diagnostic Studies and Procedures
Acne is easily diagnosed by its appearance although a doctor will also ask question about provoking factors.
For mild and moderate acne, treatment typically starts with a 2.5 or 5 percent strength of benzoyl peroxide. This non-prescription medication comes in lotion, jel and cleanser foams and in strengths up to 10 percent, because benzoyl peroxide can irritate the skin, it should be applied only as directed and in the mildest effective strength. Drying agents, such as salicylic acid, alcohol and sodium thiosulfate, maybe combined with it or used alone.
A topical antibiotic, usually erythromycin or clindamycin cream, is prescribed for persistant acne. If one of these is in effective, tetracycline or some other oral medication may be used.
Severe, unremitting acne maybe treated with tretinoin(retin-A) or isotretinoin(Accutene), powerful drugs derived from vitamin A. Available in cream, gel or liquid form, Retin-A is the preferred choice because it has fever side effects than Accutane, which is taken orally and is generaly reserved for the most serious cases.
In more than half of the people who used Accutane, acne never returns, but its many potential side effects include dry, fragile, peeling or itching skin, hair loss; conjunctivitis, dry eyes, cataracts and other visual problems; intestinal upsets; and decreased liver function. Accutane can also cause birth defects and should be discontinued several months before attempting pregnency. Boths Retin-A and Accutane increase the skin's sensitivity to sun, so a sunblock with an SPF of 15 or more should be applied before going outdoor.
Aromatherapy. Using the aromatic oils of plants or flowers can counter stress, which is sometimes a factor in a flare-up of acne. Aromatherapists recomen massaging the effected areas with essence of juniper in an olive oils base, and then bathing them with lavender water and applying lavender cream.
These and any other topical substances should be used cautiously because they can irritate the skin and also may interact adversely with skin medications.
Herbal Medicine. long-standing herbal remedies for acne include agrimony, burdockroot, clover, aloe vera, horse-tail, iris, lavender, lemon balm, tansy,and white birch bark. Some of these herbal preparation are applied directly to the skin as a healing lotion or poultice; others are used for cleansing.
Homeopathy. Homeopathic substances recommended for acne include kalibromium, sulphur lotion or ointment, carbo begetabilis and thuya.
Always refrain from picking or squeezing pimples; this spread the infection and can cause scarring.
Keep skin clean, but avoid harsh scrubbing and over washing-acne is not caused by dirty skin and you can't wash it away. Cleanse once or twice a day with a mild, unsented soap. If your skin is very oily, try a drying soap that contain benzoyl peroxide. Use warm water and your fingger tips (not a wash cloth or scrub brush). Avoid the use of washing granules or other exfoliates, which can worsen acne by increasing skin irritation.
Periodically apply a facial masque of mud, clay or oatmeal to help remove oil from the skin. Steer clear of oily moisturizes and hair pomades; shampoo often and wear your hair pulled back from your face. Use non-oily water-based makeup and sunscreen.
Diet does not cause acne, but in some people, certain foods, such as those high in iodine, may make it worse. One at a time, eliminate foods you think affect your acne to see if your skin improves. Stress also does not cause acne but may worsen it; stress reduction techniques such as meditation may be helpful.
Other Causes of Skin Eruptions
Rosacea exhibits acne-like cycsts and pustules, as well as flushing, swelling and reddening of the skin. Allergies can also produce acne-like eruption.