Acne is the most common chronic skin disorder, characterized by the inflammation of the sebaceous glands and of the hair follicles. Typically, the lesions appear on the skin of the face, neck, chest and shoulders.
Acne affects up to 80% of the population aged 12 to 25 years, and approximately 30-40% of individuals older than 25 years. The trend of “maturation” of this disease at the present time, its significant impact on the psycho-emotional state and social adaptation of patients show the importance of this problem and lead to the necessity of developing new drugs and treatments.
According to several studies performed, about 6 out of 10 young people aged 12-14 years suffer from acne, and acne becomes an embarrassing condition once an increasing number of young people start to worry about their appearance.
Although not a dangerous or severe disease, acne can become troublesome and is able to disfigure; for example, severe acne can give rise to permanent scars.
Acne occurs when hair follicles in the skin become clogged due to secretions of sebaceous glands and to the dead cells of the skin. The tendency to develop acne can be inherited. Acne usually appears during adolescence in the form of small red bumps, sometimes large cysts and nodules. Usually after puberty, acne disappears by itself. Acne is more common in men than in women.
Acne can take the form of blackheads (open comedones), which are represented by dilated and clogged skin pores. Normally, open comedones are black or grayish-brown in color, due to the chemical changes of sebum (oil) in the pore. Sometimes black dots may be removed by the doctor or by the cosmetologist.
White spots (closed comedones, whiteheads) are clogged pores with a very small orifice. They are difficult to remove without medical help.
Pustules are white or yellow bumps that appear when bacteria are actively multiplied inside the comedones, causing inflammation and pus formation. Squeezing pustules may exacerbate inflammation and increase the size of the pimples. Cysts (cystic acne) are deep, painful, pus-filled cavities, as a consequence of which scars often remain.
The main causes of acne include:
- Hormonal changes that affect the function of sebaceous glands, causing them to produce more sebum, which leads to the clogging of the pores, the occurrence of comedones and pimples;
- The use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids;
- Frequent squeezing of the skin (for example, with a telephone), or the habit of touching the face.
Acne of light and moderate severity (comedones, a small amount of pustules) requires only a thorough skin care. However, if after 6-8 weeks of treatment, there is no improvement or skin condition is worsened, it is advisable to see a doctor.
When very large, red, painful rash appears, which doesn’t pass for more than 3 days, it is also necessary to consult a doctor.
What can you do for acne treatment?
In most of the cases, acne can be treated with various anti-acne preparations requiring no medical prescription (e.g. lotions, creams, gels). The most common ingredients in anti-acne remedies include benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, resorcinol, salicylic acid and sulfur. Benzoyl peroxide destroys the bacteria that cause acne. Azelaic acid has an antibacterial, antiinflammatory and keratolytic action. Resorcinol, salicylic acid and sulfur, although not used today as extensively as before, can help remove the comedones (both closed and open ones).
Acne remedies are recommended to be applied each day on affected skin areas after cleansing. If the skin begins to dry and becomes irritated, reduce the frequency of applications to once in every two or three days. Don’t squeeze the pimples and pustules, for it can spread the infection and cause scarring. Clean the face with a mild soap or other gentle cleanser (it is better to use products specifically designed for oily skin) twice a day. Wash your hair each day. Use water-based moisturizers and cosmetics, marked with “Non comedogenic”, which means that these products do not clog pores.
Use face masks, which remove excess sebum. Avoid stress. Consult your doctor if acne progresses, skin condition is severe or if acne leaves scars.
What can your doctor do for acne treatment?
Dermatologists may prescribe anti-acne remedies containing tretinoin (lotions, creams), which help to reduce sebum and thus stop the clogging of pores and acne development.
Doctors may also prescribe antibiotics that kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. In particularly severe forms of acne, physicians prescribe a drug containing isotretinoin for oral administration. However, it must be remembered that this method of treatment has its side effects. In particular, it is contraindicated in pregnant women or in those planning to become pregnant in the nearest future.
You can also use injections into the affected areas with various drugs that accelerate healing and reduce inflammation. This method also allows to reduce the appearance of scars and blemishes.
Regular use of topical anti-acne preparations in combination with the medication prescribed by the dermatologist will help avoid severe rashes and post-acne scarring.
Face acne treatment also involves performing cosmetological procedures for skin cleansing. The main types of these procedures are:
- Manual cleaning or cleaning with the help of special tools (brushes). During this cosmetic procedure, the doctor removes the open and closed comedones.
- Peeling, which involves the removal of dead skin particles? This procedure is used in mild forms of acne and in the absence of large inflammation foci.
- Opening cysts and nodes, used for severe acne. This procedure is, in fact, a surgical intervention.
It is almost impossible to tell exactly how much time is necessary to treat acne. Even dermatologists and cosmetologists cannot offer a guarantee that the rash will disappear in a few months. However, as a rule, the majority of patients who seek for medical help already notice the results after 1-2 months of treatment.
Unfortunately, acne cannot be completely cured. However, it is worth remembering that the most important condition is to treat acne permanently, because it’s quite a long process the result of which is not immediately visible. All persons suffering from acne should remember: the treatment of the disease is not aimed at removing acne, but at preventing its further occurrence. Any doctor may confirm that even after its disappearance, it is necessary to take good care of the skin and to visit a cosmetologist as often as possible. In mild forms of acne it is recommended to consult the doctor once in every 2 months; in severe forms — once a month. At recurrence of the disease (i.e. appearance of a new rash), you must consult a dermatologist immediately.
The presence of such an unpleasant skin defect as acne significantly reduces self-esteem and, in some cases, results in severe depression. That is why the treatment of acne is important not only for aesthetic, but also for social and psychological reasons. This process cannot be left to take its own course. The treatment of every person affected by acne should be individual and, in severe forms of acne, a dermatologist’s consultation is indispensable.