Many of us will or have experienced acne in our lifetime. As one of the most common skin conditions, find out how to treat and manage your acne flare ups at home with the help of your dermatologist.
Acne is caused by overactive sebaceous glands in your skin. Skin is naturally oily to protect itself and the sebaceous glands are responsible for producing this oil. When these glands produce too much oil, they get clogged and become infected. If not cleaned properly the glands produce red, inflamed, pus-filled bumps or pimples. Even if these glands do not become infected, they can form mild whiteheads or blackheads. While anyone can get acne, people who are experiencing hormonal changes are more susceptible. Teenagers, pregnant women, people undergoing hormone therapy or using certain medications can all develop acne from hormonal surges.
Whether you are struggling with acne for the first time or you’ve dealt with it for years, at home remedies can be more effective than you might think.
You’ve almost certainly heard that not washing your face can cause acne. Keep in mind when selecting a cleanser that oil, not dirt, is what clogs pores. Use a non-soap cleanser twice a day that won’t dry your skin. Be gentle when cleaning your face, since intense scrubbing can cause irritation and make acne worse.
While popping pimples might seem like the best way to clear your complexion, resist the urge to do so. Using your fingers and/or tools to pop or express zits can introduce dirt and other contaminants to your open skin, leading to an infection. An infected pimple can become red and inflamed, and may result in scarring. While it may seem difficult, allowing pimples to go away on their own and maintaining your gentle cleansing routine is the best way to treat mild acne. Of course, if leaving acne alone does not work, or acne intensifies, you will need to take further steps with a dermatologist.
Makeup, if it’s not skin-friendly, can cause acne. Select makeup and other skin products that are non-comedogenic, i.e. specifically designed to not clog pores. Additionally, use sunscreen daily and avoid over sun exposure. Sun damage will further accelerate oil production in your sebaceous glands.
A Dermatologist’s Toolbox for Acne Treatment
If your acne is not clearing while following these at-home suggestions, don’t become discouraged. Acne can be tough to treat and the underlying cause could be more complicated than cleanliness.
Your dermatologist might determine that bacteria or hormones are causing your acne. If this is the case, antibiotics might be prescribed to eliminate these acne-causing bacteria from the follicle where sebaceous glands are located.
If hormones are to blame, there are certain hormonal treatments that can help safely balance the ones that make skin overproduce oil. For example, birth control medications are sometimes prescribed to treat acne in women.
Your dermatologist may prescribe retinoid creams to treat your acne. Retinoids are essentially deep cleansers that clear clogged pores and also prevent dead skin cells from further blocking them. Over-the-counter retinoids are not always strong enough to treat the kind of acne that won’t respond to at-home treatments. A prescription retinoid cream from your dermatologist has the necessary strength to keep acne at bay. One specific retinoid, isotretinoin, is actually administered orally. This is an intense medicinal treatment, so making sure that it’s right for you is important. Other topical medications are usually categorized as exfoliants, which refers to creams and lotions that rid the skin and pores from excess oil and dead skin cells.
There are a few clinical studies that are being performed to test the effectiveness of topical acne medications. You may find that participating in a clinical trial could treat your acne and help others.
Be confident in your skin! Schedule a acne consultation with your local New England dermatologist and share your radiance. Reach out to us today.
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