ACNE, also known as acne vulgaris but popularly called pimples by many, occurs very commonly amongst young people and is dreaded by many. Although forcefully accepted by a few as a phase of puberty, acne has never enjoyed warm welcome on anyone’s skin. Often, skin care products are launched in their numbers. To many, these products are a source of income and to others, they constitute the major part of necessary expenditure. The selling point of many skin care products these days is the ability of the product to produce a clear unblemished skin. On the shelves for skin care, there is a variety of products that are made to prevent or treat acne which indicates the huge demand for smooth skin.
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil. It is commonly characterised by blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, cysts and possible scarring. It is usually seen on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders because these areas contain lots of sebaceous glands. It can affect any age population. It occurs commonly in adolescence and the rate decreases with increasing age.
Like many medical conditions, the cause of acne is not known. There are however some factors associated with its development. Some of those factors include:
· Genes: This is considered to be the primary cause of acne.
Hormones: Hormonal changes that occur during the menstrual cycle and puberty may lead to acne. This is because hormones (for instance, androgens) favour the production of sebum. Individuals with medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia amongst others may have increased chances of developing acne.
· Infections: The bacteria Cutibacterium acne has been associated acne.
· Diet: Diet containing high amounts of sugar and fat can contribute in the development of acne.
· Stress: This may be the underlying factor causing acne in many. It may also affect personal hygiene, which may lead to acne.
Not only is the presence of acne not pleasant to many, it sometimes leaves scars, which are equally not desired. Hence there is need to acquire knowledge on how to prevent it or treat it earlier. Some preventive measures that can be applied include:
· Keep the skin clean: Doing this removes impurities, dead skin cells and extra oil from your skin’s surface. Excessive washing of the face in a day is not advised as it may make the skin dry.
· Keep the skin moisturised: Washing the skin with soap and using some harsh skin care products makes the skin dry, so it is recommended that appropriate moisturisers suited to the individual’s skin type be applied.
· Avoid excessive makeup application: Applying excess makeup on the skin (especially on bad skin) to cover spots or pimples may worsen the condition as doing so will further clog pores and lead to formation of more skin lesions.
· Keep hands and excessive oils off the face: Often, hair products contain oil which when applied on the hair settles on the face with time, which can clog pores and lead to acne. Also, constant touching of the face consciously (to take out acne) or unconsciously (as a habit) is highly discouraged as this can introduce bacteria on the face, cause more acne, dark spots and scarring which could affect the person’s self-esteem and quality of life.
· Stay out of the sun: Ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause inflammation and skin discoloration. Individuals should limit the time in the sun especially when the sun is hottest. Protective clothing can be worn, sunscreen can be applied over skin before exposure.
· Healthy nutrition: Certain foods like fruits and vegetables help maintain clear skin while diet high in sugar, fat should be avoided as they may cause acne.
Regular exercise, effective stress management techniques, adequate sleep and relaxation all help to improve overall wellbeing of an individual and also promote healthy skin.
There are various modalities of treating acne ranging from home remedies, over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and some procedures depending on severity. Many skin care products do not require prescription except in severe cases. However, it is advised that professional help be sought before commencing any treatment for effective results. Dermatological advice should be sought when symptoms persists or in severe/complicated cases.
Health quote of the week: “Beautiful makeup starts with beautiful skin” – Shu Uemura