Acne, medically known as Acne Vulgaris, is a skin disease that involves the oil glands at the base of hair follicles. It commonly occurs during puberty when the sebaceous (oil) glands come to life – the glands are stimulated by male hormones produced by the adrenal glands of both males and females.
Acne is not dangerous, but can leave skin scars. Human skin has pores (tiny holes) which connect to oil glands located under the skin. The glands are connected to the pores via follicles – small canals. These glands produce Sebum, an oily liquid. The sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. A small hair grows through the follicle out of the skin. Pimples grow when these follicles get blocked, resulting in an accumulation of oil under the skin.
What is acne?
The word acne comes from the word acme meaning “the highest point,” which comes from the Greek akme meaning “point” or “spot” – it was originally misspelt, with an ‘n’ rather than an ‘m’ in 1835.
In humans, pimples tend to appear on the face, back, chest, shoulders and neck.
Simply put – skin cells, sebum and hair can clump together into a plug, this plug gets infected with bacteria, resulting in a swelling. A pimple starts to develop when the plug begins to break down.
Scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine found that there are good and bad strains of bacteria that determine the severity and frequency of developing acne. They explained in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (March 2013 issue) that not all acne bacteria trigger pimples – in fact, one strain they identified can help keep the skin pimple-free.
Causes of Acne
The main causes of acne include clogged pores, bacteria, excess oil production and dead skin cells. Research also indicates hormones, diet, stress and certain medications – including corticosteroids, androgens, birth control pills and lithium – can worsen acne. (1)
An ongoing review published in the Archives of Dermatological Research is examining whether sleep deprivation, stress and other aspects of modern life are linked to adult female acne. (2) Once believed to strike most often during teen years, acne is now affecting millions of adult women, who never had a problem with acne before.
While acne is typically linked in adult women due to hormonal shifts and imbalances that occur during the menstrual cycle, or when transitioning into menopause, it’s important to consider elevated stress levels, a lack of sleep and a poor diet as the root causes.
An estimated 70–90 percent of young adults, of both genders, suffer from acne, too. Genetics, changing hormone levels and stress are all contributing factors. However, friction from sports equipment and backpacks can further irritate skin, leading to acne breakouts on the chin, forehead, jawline and back.
The harsh chemicals in over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause further irritation, and may not be safe for continued use. Safe home remedies for blackheads and whiteheads are available. Meanwhile, here are my favorite natural home remedies for getting rid of pimples.
Avoid the biggest mistakes in treating acne:
- Picking blemishes
- Over cleansing with harsh chemicals
- Believing only topical care of the skin is necessary to fight acne
- Not giving skin the chance to adapt to new care
- Failing to stay properly hydrated
- Failing to start treating acne from the inside, out
- When you find the right combination of home remedies for acne, continue with your personal programme for the best results.
Treatments for Acne
Acne is a common skin ailment these days. People of all ages are affected by it and resort to different methods to deal with this issue. Many treatments have been developed by skin specialists to get rid of acne. Keep reading to know more about them.
- Laser Treatment
This treatment method uses pulsed laser light to kill the bacteria present in acne. This brings the current acne under control and also prevents future breakouts. It is usually used in combination with laser skin resurfacing treatment to fade scars and smoothen the skin.
- Homeopathic Treatment
Homeopathy treatments aim at getting rid of the root cause of acne. It is a holistic treatment that can help you to get relief from acne breakouts. Commonly used ingredients in homeopathy treatment for acne include sulphur, kali bromatum, arctiumlappa, belladonna, and nux vomica. Do not take homeopathy medication without a certified doctor’s prescription.
- Herbal Treatment
Herbs that are usually found around the house are commonly used for treating acne. Many of the home remedies listed above use herbs to clear the infection and reduce acne scars. Some examples of the herbs are turmeric, garlic, aloe, and neem.
- Blue Light Acne Treatment
This latest development in the acne treatment field is recommended for people who suffer from red, inflamed acne. The bacteria that cause acne, Propionibacterium acnes, is sensitive to blue light. This means that when this bacteria that is residing in the oil glands of your skin is exposed to blue light, it dies. Also, the heat that accompanies the blue light causes the oil glands to shrink and reduces the sebum production. A wholesome treatment for acne!
- Ayurvedic Treatment
Most of the herbs used in the herbal treatment of acne fall under Ayurvedic treatment. Apart from the ones mentioned above, Ayurvedic medicine also relies on using the right combinations of dried and fresh herbs that treat acne. Triphala guggulu, chandanasava, and sarivadyasava are some of the Ayurveda medicines used.
Tips to Prevent Acne
Apart from these home remedies for pimples, this is the to-do list that you should follow religiously:
- Wash your face twice a day with cold water as it helps to close the pores of your skin.
- If you’re suffering from this problem for a long time, use a medicated cream that contains benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The home remedies mentioned above also work well in managing and preventing acne.
- Use a face mask at least once a week to clean the pores.
- Steam your face regularly. It helps to open the pores and makes the removal of pimples and blackheads very easy and effective.
- Wash your makeup tools like brushes and sponges to remove all the dirt, oil, and bacteria from them.
- Drink 10-12 glasses of water daily to flush out all the impurities from the body.
- Avoid touching your face with your hands regularly. Also, while talking over the phone, keep it away from your face. If you do so, you will transfer all the dirt and bacteria from your hands or phone to your face, thus increasing the risk of pimple formation.
- Have a diet rich in vitamin A, vitamin E, niacin, and zinc.
- Drink a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of honey and lime juice daily in the morning on an empty stomach. This will purify the system by flushing out the toxins from the body and maintain the pH balance of the skin, thus curing pimples and acne.
- Do not squeeze or prick the pimples or blackheads. This will increase sebum production and also let the bacteria spread on the surface of the skin, leading to more pimples. It can also lead to permanent pigmentation.
- Consumption of too much iodine (iodized salt) can lead to pimple and blackhead outbreaks. Excess of sodium also leads to weight gain. So reduce the amount of salt in your daily diet.
Treat acne promptly to get a flawless skin. Eat healthy and keep yourself hydrated to bid adieu to pimples and say hello to beautiful skin.
Fast facts on acne
- Acne is a skin disease that involves the oil glands at the base of hair follicles.
- Acne commonly occurs during puberty.
- Acne is not dangerous, but can leave skin scars.
- Types of pimples include whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nobules, cysts.
- Approximately three-quarters of 11 to 30 year-olds will get acne at some time.
- Acne can affect people of all races and all ages.
- Experts believe the primary cause is a rise in androgen levels (hormone).
- A susceptibility to acne could also be genetic.
- Treatment for acne may depend on how severe and persistent it is.
- Acne can be affected by the menstrual cycle, anxiety and stress, hot and humid climates, oil based makeup, greasy hair and pimple squeezing.