Acne is a common skin condition amongst young people. It’s associated with blackheads, scars and spots that never seem to go away. But what really is acne and how can it be treated?
DEFINITION OF ACNE:
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles are clogged with oil and dead skin cells.
Most people interchange acne with pimples, but they’re not the same. Pimples are small inflamed spots on the skin, and they’re caused by acne.
Acne affects mostly teenagers because of teenagers and change in hormones, but it also affects a small percentage of children and adults.
SYMPTOMS OF ACNE
Small red tender bumps (papules)
Whiteheads- these are closed plugged pores
Blackheads- these are open plugged pores
Large, solid painful lumps under the skin
Pus filled lumps under the skin
Acne mostly affects the forehead, face, chest, shoulders and upper back.
Note: A pustule is a skin elevation which contains pus while a papule is a skin elevation with no visible fluid.
CAUSES OF ACNE
Hormonal Changes: Teenagers and pregnant women are more prone to acne due to hormonal changes. For teenagers, during puberty, some hormones called androgens increase the size of the skin’s oil glands. This makes the glands produce more oil, and this excess oil clog the skin pores and hair follicles.
Smoking: Nicotine in cigarettes can trigger acne. Studies have shown that the more cigarettes smoked, the more severe the acne.
Food: It is rumored that junk food, chocolate and greasy foods are some of the leading causes of acne, but this has been disproved by research. Instead, studies have revealed that diary products (like milk or cheese) and high glycemic food (food with high sugar content) trigger acne.
Drugs: Some medications (e.g contraceptive pills) cause acne and make it worse.
HOW TO TREAT ACNE
Eat Healthy: Avoid foods with high sugar content, dairy products and sodas.
Zinc Supplements: Several studies have shown that people with acne have a low amount of zinc in their blood stream compared to people with clear skin and zinc taken orally helps reduce acne. So it is advised to take at least 30-40 mg of zinc per day.
Essential oils: Most essential oils have anti inflammatory and anti biotic properties. Therefore, using them on acne can prevent swelling (pimples) and kill off bacteria clogging the skin pores. You can use essential oils by diluting in water and applying to the areas affected.
Exfoliation: Exfoliation is the removal of the top layer of dead skin cells. This can be achieved by using scrubs (chemical or apricot). During exfoliation, the dead skin cells which clog the pores are removed.
If your acne persists after using any of this methods, it’s advisable to see a dermatologist.