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Posts Tagged ‘Acne Treatment’

Acne Treatment. By Our Former Student Pharmacist, Emily Burns.

We’ve all had it happen before – you’re getting ready for a big presentation, date, or family reunion–you look in the mirror and see a huge blemish staring back at you. If you are like most people, the acne spot seems to call your name, daring you to pick at it. However tempted you may be, it is recommended to not disturb the blemish, as it can cause even more redness and irritation.

Acne is caused when the hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil (sebum). The changing hormones in teens and young adults tend to increase oil production, which is why it is most common to see acne in these age groups. Bacteria can rapidly grow in the clogged pores, causing inflammation in the skin and producing that huge red pimple on your nose, forehead, chin, etc. Whiteheads (closed comedones) are caused by the follicle being plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Blackheads (open comedones) are caused by the same thing, but are near the surface of the skin and turn black when exposed to the air. It isn’t known why some people are more prone to breakouts, but it is known that dirt, chocolate, and greasy foods like French fries are NOT the cause. If you have acne, these things may cause it to worsen:

  • Stress
  • Oil-based skincare/hair products (including makeup and tanning lotions)
  • Abrasive facial scrubs
  • Picking the blemishes
  • Hormonal changes due to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and oral contraceptives
  • Diets full of dairy or carbohydrate-rich foods
  • Medications (including steroids, androgens, or lithium)

Typically, it is best to use over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for mild acne that only consists of a few small blemishes. Larger acne that includes cysts (painful pus-filled lumps that resemble boils) should be treated with prescription products recommended by a dermatologist. There are currently a multitude of OTC remedies that may be used to decrease the appearance of acne.

First, it is important to wash your face in the morning and at night with a mild cleanser. This helps to remove oil and skin cells from the skin so pores will not get clogged. A mild cleanser (Cetaphil, Neutrogena, Purpose) is necessary because some products contain harsh chemicals that may actually make acne worse.

From that point, a topical lotion or cream may be applied to kill growing bacteria on the surface and help remove excess oils. Products containing benzoyl peroxide are generally the most effective, but products with salicylic acid, resorcinol, or sulfur may also be useful. Side effects of these may include drying of the skin and redness, but generally diminish after consistent use for a few weeks. When using benzoyl peroxide, it is recommended to start with a 2.5% or 5% product to avoid irritation, or only use the product every other day. This product may bleach the skin and/or clothing and bed linens. As with any acne treatment, it generally takes 4-8 weeks to see improvements and may appear worse before it gets better.


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