Acne is one of the most common skin conditions that is estimated to affect about 80% of all people at some point in their life or the other. It is often seen as an inevitable part of the puberty and for many a teenager, acne is a cause of great distress. While teen acne often passes on its own by early adulthood, most teens are not willing to take a wait and watch approach in dealing with their condition. The same applies to adults suffering with acne. This inadvertently leads to measures that can sometimes cause more harm than good like bursting pus-filled pimples (popping a zit) or abrasive cosmetic treatments to remove the lesions.
Acne is a skin disease and there are several different treatments available. Treatment includes a combination of topical (face washes, cleansers and ointments) and oral (pills) medication. The response to these treatment measures may vary from one person to another – some people may find that their acne resolves almost completely with simple measures while others experience persistent acne even with the intensive medical treatment. Many acne sufferers would rather avoid the use of medication for the treatment of acne as the dangers of drugs such as isotretinoin has come to light.
However, isotretinoin is not the only acne treatment on the market, albeit among one of the most effective. There are several different measures for the treatment of acne. But for those who wish to avoid the prescription route or assist with the management of the condition, there are several diet and lifestyle tips that can be useful. Remember that there is no acne cure-all where you can pop a pill today and your acne will disappear forever within a few days or weeks. Acne requires constant management until it eventually resolves – often on its own.
Stay Away From Makeup
Acne pictures from Dermatology Atlas
You may want to cover the unsightly pimples and acne blemishes but using make-up can worsen your condition. Cosmetic primer or foundation are two types of makeup that you should avoid altogether. Foundation is a thick liquid application that is skin colored and can be spread over the face to give a uniform appearance. Primer is often used as a base to ensure that the foundation is not easily removed with perspiration or in hot weather. While it does wonders in concealing all the flaws on the skin, it can block the follicles even further and irritate the already inflamed skin. If you do happen to use foundation or primer for a short while, remove it thoroughly. Everyday use should be avoided.
Wash Your Face With Cleansers
Acne is not a problem with personal hygiene. However, more frequent face washing particularly with proper cleansers and drying agents can help improve acne. Dead skin cells and the excess oil on your skin forms a plug that blocks the follicles. Bacteria can then infect the inflamed area. By washing more frequently you can remove the excess oil and dead skin cells before it forms a plug. Some applications have a drying effect that can last for hours which further assists in preventing plug formation. Cleansers with an antibacterial action help by destroying the bacteria such as Proprionibacterium acnes which contributes to acne.
Control What You Eat
Acne is not caused by eating too many chocolates or greasy foods as is often thought. However, various studies have found a link between diet and acne in some cases. Dairy products and carbohydrate-rich foods have been implicated although there is still some disagreement about its role in acne. Dairy has been implicated for possibly altering hormone levels which in turn contributes to the excess oiliness of skin – a component of acne. Carbohydrate-rich foods which increase the blood glucose levels rapidly causes the body to increase its insulin secretion. It is believed that these blood glucose spikes and insulin may play a role in triggering acne. Avoiding these foods could help improve acne.
Reduce Sunlight Exposure
Sunlight is an important component for health. It helps to stimulate the production of vitamin D when it strikes the skin but it can also be harmful to the skin. Spending more than 20 minutes in direct sunlight can cause damage to the skin as it has both UVA and UVB light, both of which are harmful to the skin. As the skin is already inflamed in acne, it is more easily irritated with even shorter periods of sunlight exposure. Although it is not possible to avoid sunlight altogether, you should try to limit exposure. Cover the areas with acne (clothing or a wide brim hat) and use a suitable sunscreen (preferably a non-greasy formula for acne). Remember a little sunlight is good for you as well.
Never Pinch A Pimple
You may be tempted to pinch a pimple. Pop a zit, allow the pus to drain and the problem is gone. But you may actually worsen the condition and cause permanent scarring. As much as you want to burst your zits, you will have to resist temptation. Pinching further irritates the skin, spreads the pus and bacteria within it and may cause damage in the deeper layers of the skin which results in permanent scars. While it may appear to provide temporary relief for a day or two, new pimples will arise in the area within a few days and it may be worse than what it was originally. More importantly though, the dark spots that forms at the area of the recently burst pimples may not disappear.
Avoid Touching Your Face
Everybody touches their face several times a day. It may be for a number of reasons, like to scratch an itch, but often we touch our face for no specific reason. But touching your face can actually worsen your acne. Not only is grease and other contaminants on the hand transferred to the skin on the face, but so are a range of different microbes like bacteria. Remember that your hands are making contact with a range of objects in your environment as well as with other people. Therefore your hands harbor many different types of microbes which can further infect your skin. Since you may touch your face unconsciously, rather learn to wash your hands several times in a day with an antibacterial soap.
Gimmicks Can Be Harmful
You may have seen it on TV or heard about it from a friend – there are literally hundreds of acne remedies claiming to be “cures”. Be careful when using some of these products as it can do more harm than good. There is no acne miracle on the market and even if a definitive cure was found, it would not be selling for a low price through a TV commercial. Some of these products may be helpful if used properly but unfortunately there are scores of ineffective products that are nothing more than gimmicks. Always speak to your doctor or pharmacist before trying any product. Ideally you should consult with a dermatologist and get proper medical care by a professional.