Acne is an inflammatory condition affecting the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of the skin. Normally, old cells lining the follicles fall away and are carried to the surface by sebum. If excess sebum is produced, it combines with the cells to form a plug and inflammation is triggered, causing a whitehead or blackhead. If bacteria multiply, they cause the follicle to swell and pus to form, leading to pimples, pustules, nodules and cysts.
Factors that seem to worsen acne:
- Sensitivity to androgenic hormones
- Sunburn / UV light
- Oily cosmetics
- Clothes, masks, helmets that rub against the skin
- Grease, oils, pollution.
Acne can be very distressing for the person affected. Underlying any treatment should be a mild, oil-free skincare routine to control the oil and remove old cells. Consider the Avène Cleanance range to regulate sebum production, reduce irritation and gently cleanse. The skin often responds well to the right nutrients, try zinc from lean red meat, fish and nuts; vitamin B from whole grains, dark leafy vegetables and fish, and vitamin A from carrots or dark green leafy vegetables. Vitamin E from avocados, broccoli and sunflower seeds and vitamin C from citrus fruit, berries, grapes and broccoli may also help heal acne scars.
For mild-moderate acne, try products to unblock the follicles, looking for the ingredient Salicylic acid. Benzoyl Peroxide and Azelaic acid can be applied to reduce inflammation and bacteria. In more severe cases, speak to your doctor about prescription medicines that may be more effective. Retinoids (including Adapalene in Differin, Tretinoin in Retrieve) help to remove the plugs, prevent pores blocking, suppress inflammation and decrease sebum production. Isotretinoin can be taken orally for more severe cases but can cause side effects and pregnancy prevented. Antibiotics may be used topically or orally to reduce bacteria numbers and lower inflammation, or anti-androgenic medicines may be an option. Treatment may take 12-weeks to be effective and the skin may get worse before better, so it is important to commit to the longer term.