Acne is a common condition that affects millions of people around the world. It can be embarrassing and frustrating to deal with, especially with no known current cure. Many different acne treatment options are available, depending on the severity and type. The causes of acne are unknown, but researchers are conducting studies to find links between acne and diet, genetics, and hormones.
Many factors determine developing acne and it is suspected that a combination of factors cause this condition in each individual. Some of the factors that affect acne development are diet, genetics, vitamin deficiency and hormones. Many scientists believe that hormones play the largest role in acne development, but more research is needed to define a definite link.
Most cases of acne begin during puberty when hormone levels are at their peak in many individuals. Some women develop acne during the week before their menstrual period when their estrogen levels are at their lowest. Menopause is another time when some women develop acne, and it is suspected that hormones are the main cause of acne in these women.
Acne and Diet
While no specific foods have been determined to cause acne, there have been some studies that show eating a diet rich in whole grains and lean proteins lessens the development of acne lesions on the skin. Researchers believe that eating foods that are high in carbohydrates and fat cause insulin production in the body to increase, which increases all hormone levels and more oil is produced in the skin.
It is suggested that some foods help to fight acne. Some of these foods are:
* Green Tea
* Whole Wheat
* Lemon Juice
Acne Treatment Medications
Light or occasional cases of acne can be treated at home with topical products from the drugstore, but many cases require visits to the dermatologist who may prescribe oral antibiotics to get rid of bacteria. Lesions that do not respond to treatment may need corticosteroid injections or stronger acne medications such as Accutane.
Natural Acne Treatments
Cases of acne that are less severe may be treated at home with vitamin supplements and natural treatment options such as apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. Vitamins A and C are very important for skin health and zinc deficiency may also contribute to the development of acne lesions. It’s a good idea to check with a doctor before starting any treatment program, even if all of the ingredients are natural. Drug interaction or allergic reactions may occur.
Types of Acne
The types of acne that are present in each patient’s skin is a determining factor in the type of acne treatment they should use. The dermatologist may need to run tests that help determine the type of acne each patient is experiencing. Some acne treatments make certain types of acne worsen, and others will not be effective for certain types. Acne vulgaris is the most common type of acne and it ranges from very mild to severe. Lesions found in cases of acne vulgaris include papules, pustules, whiteheads, blackheads, and nodules. Some patients will only experience a few types of lesions, while others may deal with all lesion types at the same time.
Acne conglobata is a severe form of acne vulgaris. Other types of acne include acne rosacea, pyoderma faciale (rosacea fulminans), and gram-negative folliculitis.
One aspect of acne that can be very frustrating for the people who suffer from this condition is the scars it often leaves behind. Scars may last for years after acne lesions are gone and some scarring may be permanent. Avoiding picking or popping lesions is the best way to stop scars before they begin. Chemical peels are another popular option for getting rid of acne scars. These peels may be light or deep and the light peels are often offered as spa treatments. Deep chemical peels should only be performed by a doctor or dermatologist because the acids can be very damaging if handled improperly.
Laser resurfacing is a new skin treatment technique that has shown promise in the area of scar removal. Thin lasers are used to decimate the top layer of skin, bringing a layer of new skin to the surface. Doctor’s orders must be followed carefully to avoid infection after a laser resurfacing treatment.
Dermabrasion is another technique that removes the top layer of skin, but it uses a fast moving diamond wheel or wire brush to exfoliate. It smoothes the skin’s surface and gets rid of superficial scarring.
There are many myths about the causes and treatments of acne that have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. Many people believe that popping acne lesions open helps them heal faster, but this practice actually causes damage to the skin and often leads to infection and scarring. Others believe that acne only occurs in teenagers, but it actually can affect people of almost any age, even the elderly. It appears that sunlight is beneficial to acne at first because it dries the skin. Exposure to sunlight may increase oil production in the skin and is known to cause skin cancer, which can be fatal.
Acne is not directly caused by diet or stress, but these factors may play a role in its development. Researchers are currently conducting testing to determine how all of the factors come together to cause acne in some people and not others. Getting rid of acne is not 100% curable, but most cases can be managed with a good treatment program.
Living With Acne
Most acne treatments don’t work overnight, and the skin may sometimes look worse before it looks better. Living with acne can cause frustration and self-esteem often suffers in people with this condition. Most people with acne don’t seek help, but visiting a dermatologist is the first step to treating acne effectively and stopping the development of new skin lesions. Trying to treat acne at home can aggravate severe acne and lead to permanent scarring.