If you’ve been continuously dealing with acne problems for quite some time, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne affects up to 50 million Americans per year, making it the most prevalent skin condition in the US.
How Acne Affects a Person?
Acne problems range from mild to severe. However, any type can have a serious effect on the affected individual’s body image and confidence. Apart from the physical scarring it leaves, acne has been known to reduce one’s self-esteem, especially among young people. It has also been associated with anxiety, depression, and worse, suicidal thoughts.
There are different ways to treat acne and diminish its impact on your physical and emotional well-being. But you must know how and why it develops in the first place.
What Causes Acne?
Four major factors cause acne breakouts. These are excessive sebum production, clogged pores, bacteria, and chronic inflammation.
Produced by the body’s sebaceous glands, sebum helps moisturize the skin and keep it from getting dry. Hormones influence its production. So, if you have a hormonal imbalance, your body might be producing too much sebum, which can lead to acne breakouts. In addition to hormones, stress, and the menstrual cycle in women can also contribute to sebum overproduction.
The combination of excess sebum, dead skin cells, and dirt can block skin pores and cause acne to develop, leading to bacterial infection. Facial products, such as makeup, can also clog pores.
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to injury or infection. In certain situations, it is an essential part of the healing process. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it becomes the source of medical conditions often related to aging, such as diabetes and heart disease. Externally, chronic inflammation sometimes comes in the form of rashes, swelling, and acne.
How to Treat Acne?
There are different types of acne treatments but keep in mind that not all of them might work for everyone. Oral and topical medications generally work by controlling oil production or by treating bacterial infection.
Some of the most common topical medications for acne include retinoids (available as gels, creams, and lotions; they help prevent plugging of hair follicles) and antibiotics ( which work by eliminating excess skin bacteria while reducing redness and inflammation). Other topical prescription drugs include azelaic acid, salicylic acid, and dapsone.
Oral medications for acne include antibiotics and anti-androgen agents, which block the effect of androgen hormones on oil-producing glands.
Oral contraceptives can also be prescribed. These are combined progestin and estrogen products. However, combined oral contraceptives have side effects, such as weight gain, breast tenderness, and nausea. They are also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and breast and cervical cancer.
With most prescription drugs, results might not be seen for four to eight weeks. It can even take months or years for acne to clear up fully.
If you’ve tried over-the-counter products without success, a dermatologist can prescribe specialized treatments depending on your age and the severity of the problem. The important thing to keep in mind is that acne can be controlled, and you can get your self-confidence back.