what is acne?
Learn about the types of acne, nonprescription acne treatment, prescription treatment, and discover the important link between allergies and acne.
Acne is the most common skin ailment in the U.S., causing 25% of all visits to dermatologists and affecting about 75% of people in their twenties and thirties. Usually beginning in adolescence, it is an inflammatory condition affecting the pilosebaceous unit of the skin. The pilosebaceous unit consists of three parts: a hair follicle, a sebaceous gland, and a duct which connects the sebaceous gland to the skin’s surface. These units are more numerous in certain areas of the body, including the face, upper chest, and back.
As acne develops, sebaceous glands in the pilosebaceous unit begin overproducing sebum (usually as a consequence of a hormone called an androgen), resulting in extra oil. Bacteria in the hair follicles start to flourish and multiply, producing fatty acids which are irritating to pores in the skin. At the same time, openings of the pores become clogged with oil, skin cells, and debris. This forms a plug or comedo (a clogged pore). One type of comedo is a whitehead, the other is a blackhead.
two types of acne
There are two primary types of acne: non-inflammatory and inflammatory. Non-inflammatory acne is a mild type in which there are few whiteheads and blackheads in the facial area. Inflammatory acne occurs when whiteheads become aggravated or inflammed, thereby causing pimples and pustules. Inflammatory acne can become quite severe, causing cysts or nodules which are large lumps containing pus. This type of acne, cystic acne, can cause deep scars on the face and other areas.
nonprescription acne treatment
Nonprescription acne medicine is for mild acne; they are topical acne products that are usually tried first, before a dermatologist is consulted. They tend to control the excess oil in the skin, minimize shedding of skin cells, and kill bacteria. As you will find, the best acne treatment for you depends on several factors.
These soaps and cleansers kill the bacteria that contribute to acne. They primary ingredient in antibacterials is Triclosan, a germ killer. On the negative side, these products can create excess drying of the skin.
This is a common acne medication that needs to be used on a regular basis for mild acne. It comes in the form of creams, lotions, and cleansers, killing the bacteria that causes pimples. Benzoyl peroxide comes in different strengths, including 2.5%, 5%, and 10%. Since the skin on the body is thicker than the face, 10% Benzoyl is often the acne remedy prescribed for body acne.
This works differently; it doesn’t kill bacteria like the other medicines we mentioned. Salicylic acid works by loosening the clogged pores which prevents pimples from forming in the first place. Offered in cleansers, astringents, and lotions, salicylic acid is most effective in eliminating whiteheads and blackheads.
This medicine is usually found combined with other acne fighting substances, and it comes from acids that are naturally found in fruit, sugar, and milk. It does not kill bacteria, but helps to remove the dead skin cells that clog-up pores. Alph-hydroxy acid can also be found under the names: beta-hydroxy acid, fruit extracts, and tri-alpha-hydroxy acids.click here to how acne can be helped by urine therapy
prescription acne treatment
If you’ve tried the nonprescription treatments above for a couple of months and there is no improvement, it may be time to see a dermatologist. This is especially true if you have acne scars developing as your lesions heal. Dermatologists can help by prescribing the following acne treatments.
Retin-A is a commonly prescribed acne treatment that is offered as a lotion, cream, and gel. Retin-A is effective because it gets under the skin to expedite the shedding of skin cells and loosen plugs. In addition, it assists with fading marks on your skin that result from earlier pimples.
Effective with moderately severe acne, these drugs destroy the bacteria on the skin’s surface. Common antibiotics for this purpose are erythromycin and clindamycin, and they are offered as creams, lotions, gels, and astringents.
These drugs work inside the body and are usually prescribed for a period up to three years. They are effective in two out of three cases, destroying the bacteria that contribute to acne, but they can take several months of use before starting to improve the skin. The typical antibiotics prescribed are: erythromycin, minocycline, and tetracycline.
For women of course, these drugs work by diminishing the effects of the male hormone androgen, thus less oil is produced in the skin. Treatment with oral contraceptives usually lasts for a period of three months to several years.
This medication is only for severe cases of acne. Made from vitamin A, accutane works in several different ways. It makes oil glands smaller, it decreases the amount of sebum produced, it reduces the shedding of skin cells, and it kills bacteria. As you might imagine, accutane is a very powerful drug, therefore there a side effects to watch out for.
Blood tests are needed while on this drug. They are needed to check your blood fat levels. Also, since birth defects are associated with Accutane, women must be on birth control pills during their sixteen weeks of treatment. In addition, note that monthly treatment with accutane could run you about $200 with additional expenses for women (birth control pills and pregnancy tests).
the link between acne & allergy
A search through the literature with reveal that most doctors don’t believe in a link between acne and foods. I disagree. If you’ve read our case study you know that I have eliminated (cured) over 40 different food allergies. Before I did cure them, however, I always experienced acne breakouts after food allergy episodes. To me the link was crystal clear.
There are also insightful doctors, like Stephen Wangen, N.D. who explain the link between food allergy and acne: “ Food allergies are the number one cause of acne, and the worse the acne the more likely food allergies are involved. Eating a food to which the body is allergic leads to a continuous toxic reaction...
Looking for an acne cure? Click here to discover an acne treatment that works by eliminating the allergies that are responsible for your acne. Read this incredible case study!
Ceaser, Jennifer. Acne: A helping book for teens, New York, NY: The Rosen Publishing Group,
Cook, Allan. Skin Disorders Sourcebook, Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1997.
Papa, Christopher. Acne: the how and why of healthy skin care, New York, NY: Morrow Junior Books, 1990.
Turkington, Carol & Dover, Jeffrey. Skin Deep, New York, NY: Facts on File, 1996.