There are numerous acne medications available to the consumer in this day and age. The choice ranges from gentle medications which seek to promote the production of natural defences against the causes of acne, to very powerful chemical compounds which are often characterised as “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. If you have the room to swing a sledgehammer, and you really want to eat a nut, then maybe these are for you. However, the side effects are enough to make anyone think twice.
Isotretinoin is one of, if not the most powerful anti-acne compounds available today. Better-known by its commercial name, Accutane, it is used as a last resort almost exclusively in cases of cystic acne. It has been proven to get results, but at a cost. Pregnant women, or those who are planning a pregnancy, are advised to steer clear as it can cause birth defects such as hearing and visual impairment, facial disfigurement and mental retardation. In addition it has been linked with depression, muscle aches and hair thinning among other problems.
Birth control pills have also been indicated as a good way of treating acne due to their activity on the hormonal imbalances that can plague a sufferer. However, oral contraceptives have been linked to depression as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes or breast cancer. It should be noted that this increased risk may still place you very low on a list of “at risk patients”, and consultation with a doctor should give you all the information you need in order to medicate safely.
Adult acne seems like the most unreasonable thing that mother nature can throw at you as you move into your late twenties and thirties. As trade-offs go, having to hold down a job and pay bills is probably a fair price to pay for not having your teen acne bringing you down. But then adult acne shows up and all of a sudden you have the worst of both worlds. What is going on? Your voice broke years ago, you aren’t getting any taller and you’ve stopped blushing at the most inopportune of times. So why are you all of a sudden dealing with blackheads and zits again?
The chances are that you fall into one or more of three categories. The main three causes of adult acne are hormones, stress and genetic predisposition. Hormonal imbalances can be caused by a number of different factors, some of which are environmental and others which are down to more specific factors. Either way, it can trigger a case of acne. Alternatively you may be experiencing a great deal of stress in the workplace or in your personal life. Stress causes the overproduction of stress hormones, which are a guaranteed way of causing acne.
Finally, genetics are known to play a part in causing adult acne – if your parents, or one of them, were prone to it then you may well be too. In fact, if even one of your parents was a sufferer of adult acne, the chances that you will be as well quadruple. Hardly fair, is it?
When you kissed goodbye to your teens, it wasn’t just the end of an era of freedom and happiness. No, for many of us the end of adolescence was marked more by the departure of the majority of our skin problems. It is pretty galling when they then return as we enter our thirties and prepare to enjoy the decade that should be our prime. Having to spend time getting rid of the acne and blackheads all over again feels like such a waste of time when you have an adult life to lead. No matter – with what you learned as a teenager and what you know now, this time you can beat it once and for all.
Spotting acne before it goes too far is the first thing you need to do. Generally the first outward sign of an acne breakout is the appearance of blackheads. As oil and dead skin collects in the pores of your skin they mix with bacteria and air and turn black. These can be removed with a good exfoliant, massaged across your face gently but firmly. Pore cleansing strips are also excellent for getting out the pesky hard-to-get ones.
Additionally, now that you are an adult you may have a bit more cash in the bank. This could well be put to good use at the spa, where trained beauticians will give you a facial that clears away the bad stuff on the outside. As for the bad stuff inside, stress and hormonal imbalance are your enemies. Look for a de-stressing method, and speak to your doctor about options for stimulating or retarding the production of a troublesome hormone.
One of the most common pieces of advice that we receive as children and adolescents is “don’t squeeze it/pick it, you’ll just make it worse!”. Frequently this is extremely good advice, as picking at a blemish is likely to spread it further and create a wider surface area of exposed skin ripe for infection. Picking should not be part of your skin care regime. However, there is a place for popping pimples or zits every once in a while, once they have “crowned” – just make sure you do it at the right time and in the right way, or expect it to come back bigger and bring friends.
After a shower or a bath is the ideal time to pop a zit, It is at this point that the skin is able to breathe and will be less affected by a small prick with a needle. Make sure the needle has been sterilised and then gently pierce the surface. Taking two pieces of tissue paper, cover your index fingers or thumbs and push firmly down on the sides. This part is most enjoyable when done in front of a mirror, as it allows you to see the popping with your own eyes. Drain as much pus as you comfortably can, and stop if you see blood.
Some spots, however ready and ripe they may look, will not pop at this stage. Whatever you do, don’t force it. It will hurt, and even if it does pop it will leave a scar. Play the waiting game, and you will be rewarded.
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Acne may be viewed as the curse of the teenager, with skin conditions making life a misery for up to 85% of teenagers at one time or another. What is less commonly known is that it can hit adults just as badly, with half of all adult women affected at some time in their adult life. Men are less frequently condemned to this heartbreak, with only a quarter of all adult men suffering in the same way. It goes to show, however, that leaving adolescence behind is no passport to an acne-free life. Even into their 40s and beyond, men and women can be hit by acne.
The causes of adult acne are less researched and less well known than those of adolescent acne. Stress seems to be a major cause for men, as are hormones. Hormones, too, cause breakouts for women, with the immediate pre-menstrual spell a particular minefield. Although the cliché is perhaps unwelcome, make-up also plays a part. Women should always remove their make-up at the end of the day to prevent pores becoming clogged or blocked. As should men, if they wear make-up.
To nip the problem in the bud it is important to visit your doctor and be prepared to give a lengthy explanation of what is bothering you. A doctor can help you treat the cause and the symptoms at the same time, meaning you will get acne-free and stay acne-free quicker. It wouldn’t hurt to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables in the meantime, of course, but if you must have a short cut there are plenty of chemical solutions around as well.
For many acne sufferers, the scars left behind by the condition pose as much problem as the papules and blackheads themselves. While papules and blackheads can, to a certain extent, be cleared by a rigorous facial cleansing regime, there is no such short cut possible when it comes to the scars. Some people have skin that is so badly marked by old acne scars that they go to the extent of saving up to pay for plastic surgery. If, however, you can get a grip on the problem before it becomes serious, then you can treat it and be over it before too long.
One step that is advised by more than a few sources is a method that is totally free of charge – drinking water. Drinking as much water as you comfortably can is a good idea anyway – it keeps you feeling vibrant and awake naturally – but in terms of skin condition it really is excellent. Dead skin cells drop off more rapidly, and the skin that grows in its place is a lot smoother and cleaner. Fruit and vegetables, and particularly citrus fruit (its juices more so than any other part) are also excellent for hydration and vitamins.
One of nature’s other gifts for the removal of acne scars is Aloe Vera. It is available in a number of compounds, including gel or juice which can both be rubbed into the skin. Aloe Vera has long been used for its kindness to skin, and its nourishing values.
Although there are many who would suggest that acne is as much a result of a problematic lifestyle, and a product of the way we have changed from natural nutrients to artificial over the years, it would be fair to say that it is a little bit more complicated – and historical than all that. In fact, there are believed to be documents proving that in Ancient Rome, bathing in hot springs was considered a worthwhile acne solution. These springs contained sulfurous water, and it may have been from this knowledge that nineteenth century dermatologists discovered the effectiveness of sulfur as an acne treatment. Sine the beginning of the 20th century, however, the rate of experimentation has gone sky high.
It is a little known fact that, during the 1930s, laxatives were recommended as a cure. In this day and age, we speak of detox as being good for our skin. It can be seen that the same was true nearly eighty years ago, even if the reality was slightly more crude back then. Experimentation continued, however, and in the 1950s the focus switched to antibiotics. Although these were effective, it turned out that as much of the effect was down to the anti-inflammatory aspect of the pills as to the anti-bacterial factor.
The first serious side effect to an acne drug came in the mid-1980s, when the long-popular medication Accutane turned out to cause birth defects. Since those days, it has been a matter of trying to find ways of curing acne without causing serious problems. Light therapy and vitamins have since taken on a real importance.
The condition known to most of us simply as “acne” is actually an outward symptom of a largely internal condition known as Acne vulgaris. This condition is something which affects the sufferer’s skin and causes “breakouts” of outward skin problems which are occasionally inflamed, and often painful. The difficulty caused by acne is that it presents problems on two fronts. The cosmetic difficulties, shallow as it sounds, make a big difference to sufferers because they can affect an individual’s confidence and self-esteem, and the way that others look at them. Physically, it also presents problems because the breakouts can be extremely painful and itchy.
Among the outward signs of acne are papules. These can be inflamed or not, and stand out from the skin. When scratched, these papules can open, breaking the skin and often becoming infected. This causes further pain and discomfort as well as looking unsightly. There are also problems such as blackheads, which are formed from excess oils which accumulate in the duct of a sebaceous gland. Blackheads themselves can be removed using pore cleansing strips and by squeezing with the tips of the fingernails.
These and other lesions on the skin can be clear signs of acne vulgaris, and for a sufferer they create endless problems from a cosmetic and physical point of view. As much as anything else, these skin blemishes can be itchy and when they are scratched the problem multiplies. The key to remember is that prevention is far, far better than cure.
The problem of acne is not a new one, and yet we find ourselves at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century still without a genuine, permanent cure for the condition. Acne is a problem which persists for a large number of sufferers due to the lack of strong, substantial research aimed at delivering a cure, and a preference for lotions and potions which may well clear up the external symptoms for some weeks at a time, but do little to affect the overall condition. This ensures that in good time, a return to the old problems will occur, and the sufferer will need to start again in their search for a cure.
As it is widely felt that the major root causes of acne are internal, it is puzzling that the majority of the cures which are commercially available treat the condition from the outside. For the sufferer this simply means that they will need to spend the same money over and over to achieve the same short-term effect. There is little point in doing this from a common sense point of view, as the sole substantive effect is to clear the skin to make room for more symptomatic lesions and blemishes to fill. Treating the condition from the inside is really the only sensible approach. This can be achieved in consultation with a doctor, but if possible you should also consult a dietician to find what steps you can take to regulate your body’s production of sebum, along with observing a rigorous cleansing regime.
Many acne sufferers today have the same problem as sufferers have been complaining about for years. The complaint is something along the lines of “I can get my acne to clear up for weeks at a time, but it just keeps coming back, and I have to spend more money on treating it.”. There is no big surprise in this, because the majority of acne treatments do very little to tackle the causes of the problem, concentrating instead on dealing with the symptoms. It is the equivalent of putting sticking plasters on a cut, and when the plaster is removed running a razor blade over the area. The problem will not go away, it will only clear up temporarily.
What many acne sufferers find is that they are locked into a cycle of constantly treating the same symptoms until there is outwardly nothing left to treat. They may well continue to observe a strict cleansing regime, and this will have some effect. However, as acne vulgaris is caused by problems which occur internally, the inevitable end result is that the external symptoms will eventually return. The cycle begins again and the sufferer is no further forward. Frustration adds to the existing problems of low self-esteem and social anxiety. This is clearly not a desirable state of affairs.
Instead of allowing the problems to continually reoccur, it is important that acne sufferers look at what is causing the problems in the first place. What is taking place on the skin is nothing more than a side show. Dealing with the internal causes over a period of time that may be longer than a few weeks, you can finally put the stranglehold on the symptoms that ensures they will not return.