Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the hair follicles get plugged with dead skin cells and oil. It usually appears on neck, face, check, shoulders and back. Although treatments are available, but acne can be recurring and persistent. The bumps and pimples heal slowly, and when they seem to fade away, new ones crop up.
It is most common among teenagers, and almost 70-87 percent of teens are believed to be affected. Younger children are also increasingly getting acne. Depending on how severe the acne is, it can leave scars and cause immense emotional distress.
In Myanmar, herbal products are increasingly used to cure skin conditions such as acne.
Symptoms of Acne
The symptoms of acne depend on the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms of acne include:
- Whiteheads, or closed plugged pores
- Blackheads or open plugged pores
- Papules, or Small, tender red bumps
- Pimples, which are puss filled papules
- Cystic lesions, or Pus filled, painful lumps under the surface of the skin
- Nodules, or Large, painful lumps under the skin surface
When to see a doctor
If home remedies do not help your acne, you should see your doctor. The doctor can prescribe stronger medication. If the acne is severe or persists, you should consult a dermatologist. It is important to be judicious on the use of non-prescription drugs to treat acne as they may cause adverse reactions.
Seek emergency medical help if you have used a non-prescription anti-acne product and it has caused symptoms:
- Difficult breathing
- Tightness of the throat
- Swelling of the face, lips, eyes or tongue
If over-the-counter products fail to work on your acne, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication. You must consult a dermatologist, who can help you control the acne, avoid skin damage and scarring, and make scars less noticeable.
Most acne medications are intended at reducing oil production, fighting bacterial infection, speeding up skin cell turnover, or reducing inflammation. With these drugs, you can see results in 4-8 weeks, and the skin may get worse for a while before it begins to get better. Depending on the severity, it may take months for acne to heal completely.
Topical medications are also extensively used to treat acne. These creams or lotions have to be applied to clean and dry skin, and the treatment starts showing results in a few weeks. It may cause some skin irritation initially such as peeling, redness and dryness. Most common topical medications used for acne are retinoids that are derived from Vitamin A and contain tazarotene, tretinoin and adapalene. Antibiotic topical medications work by killing excess skin bacteria, and it is often used in combination with retinoids.
For moderate to severe acnes, antibiotics are also given orally to fight inflammation and reduce bacteria. To treat acne in adolescent girls and women, combined oral contraceptives are also used. These drugs, however, can cause some side effects.
In some cases, therapies such as light therapy, chemical peel, steroid injection and excretion of black heads and white heads are used either alone, or in combination with medications for best results.
In most cases, the prognosis of acne is excellent. People often get their worst acne during their teens and then grow out of it. However, severe acne, if left untreated for a long time can cause scarring. The goal of treatment is to prevent scarring. Acne scars may appear as big, bumpy scars or as pits. Acne scars can also be treated.
Acne scars such as pits and depressions can be treated with dermabrasion, or chemical peels, and in some select cases tissue fillers may be required. Lasers can also be used to treat acne scars. Bumpy acne scars often require intralesional steroid injections.
Prevention of Acne
You cannot prevent acne completely, but you can take steps to keep them from getting worse. You should wash your skin every day, and avoid scrubbing too hard. Avoid heavy sweating. Wash your hair more frequently if it is oily. Avoid using too many skin and hair care products as they can irritate the skin and cause acne. Some people recommend avoiding oily and sugary foods, but there is little scientific evidence to support this claim.
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