People of all ages experience acne – and there are many myths surrounding how one develops the skin condition. Whether you deal with the occasional outbreak or have a chronic condition, acne products help cleanse and treat the skin to manage skin inflammation. There are different forms of acne, including:
The type of acne treatment products suggested by a dermatologist depends on the degree of acne you have. Products offer ingredients to cleanse and exfoliate skin, as well as medication to treat inflammation and prevent infection. One of the largest misconceptions about acne is that it affects people who don’t wash their skin – and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Acne occurs for a few reasons – most commonly due to hormone changes, but also when the natural oils in the skin mix with dead skin cells and clog pores. Many acne creams help cleanse pores, which is one of the best ways to prevent acne when it’s not related to changing hormone levels.
Though washing the skin is important, washing the skin too often has its own problems. Washing frequently causes irritation to the skin and leaves it dry – which prompts oil production to increase. Gentle cleansing is effective when treating acne-prone skin, and exfoliating is an important step in the process.
How does acne occur? It takes three factors to contribute to the development of acne, including hair, hair follicles and sebaceous glands. Though these components are found over most of the body, they are highly concentrated around the chest, upper neck and back, and face –which are prime locations for acne to appear. Oil production, which is essential in keeping the skin and hair nourished, takes place in the sebaceous glands and creates sebum. Higher levels of hormones increase the sebum production – leading to that oil appearance commonly found in teens or young adults as they go through puberty and adulthood. When the sebum combines with dead cells on the skins surface, the mixture clogs pores and encourages the growth of bacteria – leading to inflamed or red skin, which are common symptoms of acne.
While acne typically affects teens and young adults, there is also a risk of acne for women with fluctuating hormones – such as during the menstruation cycle. Stress and sweating create the right conditions for acne flare-ups, but with the right acne treatment products, you can get your skin under control.
Depending on the level of acne, the suggested products vary. Those with mild acne, which indicates occasional flare-ups, pimples, blackheads or whiteheads, manage skin with gentle acne products like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin, helping to wipe away dead skin cells before they clog pores. Benzoyl peroxide prevents bacterial growth in the pores, reducing the occurrence of acne breakouts. Together, these acne creams create an effective treatment for preventing and treating acne and may be found in over-the-counter products or prescribed in higher strengths by a dermatologist. If you are shopping for over-the-counter acne products, be sure to look for ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and even alpha hydroxy acid, which work to exfoliate dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. Always use these acne creams as directed – as excess use could lead to burning, excessive dryness and redness over the treatment areas.
Those dealing with more severe cases of acne, which usually involve larger blemishes or even cysts in extreme cases, likely need to use multiple acne treatment products to treat breakouts. Prescription strength benzoyl peroxide and antibiotic creams or ointments reduce inflammation and swelling to help manage symptoms. If these treatments don’t work to reduce the appearance of acne, a prescription retinoid, such as isotretinoin, might be prescribed to decrease oil production in the skin.
Choosing an acne product greatly depends on the type of acne you have and your skin type. Dermatologists advise you start out with benzoyl peroxide in small concentrations to determine if it helps you manage acne flare-ups. Start with a 2.5 percent concentration and work your way up if you find it does not help reduce the appearance of acne – keep in mind, however, that stronger concentrations lead to increased side effects, such as dryness or skin peeling.
Try using two products at the same time to treat various issues – such as salicylic acid to exfoliate dead skin cells and benzoyl peroxide to prevent bacteria. Acne treatment products need time to start making a difference in the skin’s appearance, so always have patience and start with lower strengths to reduce further irritation. If over-the-counter acne products don’t work, speak with your dermatologist for prescription strength medications.