Acne is one of the most prevalent skin conditions that affect people of all ages, races, and skin color. There are many acne treatment options available. The best acne treatment deals with the root cause of the problem – inhibit sebum production, kill bacteria, and unclog pores by shedding dead skin.
For a simple acne breakout, self-care can often take care of the symptoms. You must see a dermatologist if your self-care and or over-the-counter medications have not worked and when your acne breakout is severe and worsens daily and when you develop scar tissue at is heals. When babies have acne, it is best to check with the doctor when it has not cleared within 3 months.
Acne Self-care Tips
What to do: Clean your skin twice a day with a mild cleanser, mild soap and lukewarm water. Regularly wash hair if you have oily hair and prevent the hair from falling across your face. Completely remove make-up at night and do not use heavy make-up. Get make-up that is labeled as ‘non-comedogenic’ which means that it is water-based and less likely to clog pores. Make sure you shower after exercising, playing sports etc.
Do Not scratch, squeeze, rub or prick the pimple, for then the infection will spread to surrounding areas and lead to scarring. Avoid using tight caps, hats, headbands or other headgear. Avoid frequently touching your face with your fingers or hands.
Acne Over-the-counter medications
If self-care home acne treatment does not work, try over-the-counter creams or gels that can be applied directly to the affected areas. There are creams or gels that contain sulfur, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or resorcinol that are very effective. They kill the bacteria, dry oil on the skin and cause top skin layer to peel off. When peeling, a reddish mark may be left behind. Small amounts of sun exposure can help improve acne symptoms – keep this to a minimum for excess UV rays cause skin cancer.
Antibiotics: If acne persists after a few days, the dermatologist may recommend some stronger medications like antibiotics. Oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, erythromycin, amoxicillin etc are all effective.
Topical Gels, Lotions and Creams : Benzoyl peroxide is an effective and common acne treatment option. It is available as a gel or cream and prevents dead skin cells blocking hair follicles and kills bacteria that cause the infection. It should be used sparingly, so read all instructions carefully.
Topical retinoids are available as creams or gels. They reduce sebum production and prevent dead skin clogging pores. Wash fact thoroughly and apply once a day at night. They are not suitable for pregnant women as they can cause birth defects. You need to use topical retinoids for at least 6 weeks to see an improvement. At times, you will experience a mild stinging of the skin.
Topical antibiotics like dapasone or clindamycin are available as gels or lotion. They kill bacteria that cause the infection of plugged pores. Some side-effects of using topical antibiotics include minor skin irritation, red, burning and peeling skin. Follow doctor’s instructions carefully when using topical antibiotics.
Azelaic Acid is often recommended when patients experience reactions from using topical retinoids or benzoyl peroxide. It is available in a gel or cream form and when applied twice daily it kills bacteria and removes dead skin.
Acne Hormone Treatment
For women with acne caused due to hormonal imbalance, birth control pills or spironolactone can be given. Hormone treatment also helps women who have acne due to polycystic ovary syndrome. Co-cyprindiol is another hormonal acne treatment that is meant for severe acne breakouts. Patients may require this medication for at least 2-6 months before they show any improvement. Isotretinoin is another hormonal medication that is beneficial for severe acne infections. It kills bacteria, reduces sebum production etc. There are many risks involved in taking any hormonal medication for acne. Patients run the risk of contracting breast cancer, kidney disease, and conjunctivitis and birth defects if taken when pregnant. Hence always consult a doctor.
Acne Dietary Treatments
Apple Diet: A fast consisting of only apples or grapes undertaken once a year is said to keep your skin clear of acne. Apples are easy to digest, contain acids that prevent fermentation in intestines and are rich in fiber that help with cleaning of bowels. Pectin contained in apples help the growth of good bacteria. Antioxidants similar to those found in garlic help apples fight free-radicals that cause cancer in the body.
Apple therapy for someone with a resistant form of acne is a safe alternative to other strong medications. It works very simply and is cheap too. Those who are allergic to apples can substitute them with red grapes (but do not use both for the therapy).
Here are the items you will need for the apple fast therapy:
- At least 10 Red Delicious Apples a day (skinned)
- 3 enemas
- 3 oz grape juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
The grape juice and olive oil are to be used on the final day of fasting. Eat as many apples as you want. The enema or a mild laxative can be used on the 2nd and 3rd days to clear the bowels of toxins. Drink plenty of water along with your apples.
Paleo Diet: Diet is responsible for acne breakout. Hence, knowing the type of foods to avoid and to consume helps in controlling incidences of acne. While diet alone cannot get rid of scarring from severe forms of acne, it can stop the disease and no further scarring of the skin will occur.
‘The Paleo Diet’ recommends that for the first 30 days you follow a strict protocol of what foods to eat and what to avoid. Eat only fresh fruits, vegetables, and fish, seafood and lean meats. Do not eat any type of processed foods, refined sugars, whole or refined cereals, dairy products or legumes. Avoid all alcoholic beverages. After 30 days of strictly following this diet, you will find a great improvement in your acne condition.
In the next 3 months, start adding a single food type or a single food to see if the acne flares up. Adding foods does not mean going back to all your old dietary habits but continuing with a healthful diet and indulging in your favorite foods once in a way. . Good foods that you must consume regularly include fresh vegetables, seafood, lean meats, fresh fruits, whole grains and milk, nuts and seeds. These foods have been listed in order of the benefits they provide and if consumed in the right quantities, they supply all the vitamins and minerals you require.
Vitamins for acne : 10,000IU of Vitamin A supplements, 150mcg of chromium picolinate or chromium polynicotinate liquid, 50mg of zinc, vitamin B rich foods can all heal your current acne outbreak and prevent further infections in the future.
Acne Herbal Cures
There are many herbal acne treatment options available. These can be taken orally or used as topical treatment. Some of the herbs that have been found effective are:
- Guggul supplements
- Tea tree oil applied on the skin
- Burdock as a topical agent or as tablets to treat various skin conditions since it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
- Vitex or chaste tree whose berries are known to cure acne
- Aloe vera is also used for acne treatment
Light Therapy for Acne
Many emerging light therapy treatments are available that can cure stubborn acne.
- Blue light therapy uses low-intensity blue light to kill P.acnes and is a painless procedure. Sometimes a combination of blue and red light will be used.
- Heat energy and pulsed light therapy shrink sebaceous glands and kill bacteria
- Diode laser therapy destroys infected sebaceous glands without affecting the outer skin layer. This treatment is painful.
- Photodynamic therapy combines light therapy and topical medicines.
- Photo-pneumatic therapy sucks out dead skin cells and excessive oil from the sebaceous glands using a vacuum suction technique.
Steroids for Acne
If you have nodules or cysts, steroids maybe advised as treatment. A steroid injection can flatten the acne lesion and symptoms clear within a few days. However, there are many side effects and this treatment is only recommended when others fail.
Acne Scar Treatment
Now that you have got rid of your acne, you may be left behind with unsightly scars. For adults who have scars that do not disappear over a few months, some surgical procedures are possible. These include different types of laser treatments, dermabrasion treatment, chemical peeling or ‘fillers’ that are injections given under the affected skin. All these procedures remove scarred and blemished skin and reveal soft, new unblemished layers.
Precautions while opting for Acne Treatment
Acne cannot be cured medically but only controlled. Be aware of all possible side-effects and reactions you can experience with herbal remedies and other drugs. All forms of acne treatment – internal and topical – must be taken under medical advisement only. Follow acne diet only after checking the effectiveness of these therapies and if they are truly effective.