Acne is something that nearly everyone experiences at some point, and it can be frustrating when those pesky bumps appear and spread like wildfire, which always seems to happen at the worst possible times – like right before a big date or an interview for your dream job. Unfortunately, acne is somewhat of a rite of passage into adolescence. In fact, 85 percent of people aged 12 to 24 experience some form of acne. However, if you think acne is just a teenage problem, don’t be mistaken as many adults deal with acne too. Even some infants deal with acne! In other words, no one is exempt from these annoying and sometimes painful blemishes. The good news: there are a variety of effective acne treatments that can tackle those bumps at the root source to get your skin clear again.
Types of Acne
While it’s entirely normal to experience the occasional bump or breakout, dealing with persistent acne can be a frustrating problem that can have a negative impact on your self-esteem, confidence and overall mental health. Overtime, some forms of acne can lead to long-term spots and scarring even once the blemish has healed. This is why it’s imperative to identify the type of acne you’re dealing with so you can treat it promptly and clear up your skin while also eliminating the risk of permanent skin problems.
Some common types of acne are:
Pimples (Inflamed Acne)
What is commonly referred to as “pimples”, inflammatory acne refers to bumps that are red and swollen. These bumps can sometimes become trapped deep in the skin’s surface, causing all kinds of pain, discomfort and stubborn acne spots.
Pimples are typically categorized as either papules or pustules. The difference between the two are:
- Papules: Pimples that are not pus-filled, and can be red, tender, painful, or irritating to the touch. These are commonly caused by a pore or hair follicle becoming clogged with bacteria.
- Pustules: Pimples that are similar to papules, only they fill with pus made up of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. These types of acne bumps are slightly larger than papules and are red, and sensitive to the touch.
Whiteheads are a kind of acne that occurs when small bumps form under the skin’s surface. These blemishes have a round shape and appear small and have a white or yellowish color due to a thin layer of skin covering them.
Blackheads are similar to whiteheads, only they have a dark or black color instead of a white bump. Blackheads also protrude through the skin’s surface, as opposed to being covered by a layer of skin.
Nodular acne is a severe form of acne that is identified by large, hard bumps located underneath the surface of the skin. This type of acne is caused by bacteria and oil penetrating deep into the skin, affecting surrounding pores and can be quite painful and even lead to permanent scarring.
This type of acne is considered the most severe type. It develops deep beneath the skin and is caused by a severe inflammatory reaction taking place in the pores, resulting in boil-like nodules that are filled with fluid.
Keep in mind, all forms of acne can range in severity and the symptoms you experience will highly depend on this. You can also experience a combination of different acne types, such as pus-filled acne with a sprinkle of blackheads. Acne can form on various parts of the body as well, such as on your chest, back and shoulders.
Common Causes of Acne
All acne is caused by clogged pores, regardless of the type. However, there are various factors that can contribute to this problem or make your clogged pores worse, such as:
- Excess production of oil
- Dead skin cells
- Ingrown hairs
- Certain medications
There are also a variety of factors that can make these things worse, which can increase your likelihood of getting acne. For example, poor skin hygiene can lead to a build-up of oil and dead skin cells that trap bacteria in your pores.
Additionally, there are some risk factors to be aware of when treating acne, such as:
- Age: Acne is most common in teenagers but can affect people of all ages
- Hormonal changes: There are certain stages is life that are known for producing hormone changes, such as during puberty and pregnancy
- Friction on the skin: Anything that puts pressure or friction on your skin, such as helmets and leggings to tight collars and mobile devices, can promote acne.
- Greasy substances: Using oily products or having your skin come into contact with an oily surface, such as your fingers after eating a greasy meal, can cause acne.
- Family history: Genetics are known to play a role in acne and if someone in your family has it, you are likely to develop it as well.
Treatments for Acne
For many people, the first step to treating acne is through the use of skincare products or over-the-counter acne treatments. While these can be effective for mild forms of acne, they don’t always work for persistent or more severe cases. The next step most people take is to get acne medications prescribed to them to help control their acne. There are also products that can help prevent scarring and other damage to the skin, and make scars less noticeable. Sometimes, it can take weeks and sometimes even months for these products to work and you do need to use them regularly to see results.
Some common forms of acne medications and treatments you may wish to consider are:
- Creams, gels and lotions such as retinoid and retinoid-like drugs, antibiotics, salicylic acid, azelaic acid and dapsone gel to help treat bacteria and inflammation causing the acne.
- Oral medications such as antibiotics, oral contraceptives, anti-androgen agents, and isotretinoin.
- Therapies such as light therapy, chemical peels, drainage and extraction and steroid injection.
Natural Remedies and Tips for Treating Acne
Perhaps you’ve been using your acne-treating products and are still having issues keeping those pesky bumps at bay. Often times, a little upgrade in your self-care can do the trick as there are various lifestyle factors that contribute to the develop of acne. Some helpful tips and natural remedies to help speed u your skin-healing process are:
- Practice proper hygiene: Get in the habit of washing your face at least twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) and use an acne-specific product that is appropriate for your specific skin type.
- Moisturize: Do not skip out on your moisturizer, as this can lead to a buildup of dead skin cells and clogged pores.
- Facial steam: Heat up a bowl of hot water, place a towel of your head and bowl and hover your face just above the water to let the steam open up your pores.
- Stop picking: I know it’s tempting but picking your pimples only leads to bigger problems.
- Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your blemishes: The healing properties of tea tree oil can help treat all forms of acne and dry skin too!
- Break bad habits: Whether it’s touching your face or going to sleep without washing your face, breaking these bad habits is a must for treating acne.
- Wash your makeup brushes: These things are a cesspool of acne-causing bacteria!
- Invest in your skincare products: Cheaper isn’t always better, especially when it comes to your skincare.
- Know the ingredients: Spend some time getting to know the ingredients in your skincare products to ensure you know what to look for and avoid the next time you restock.
- Use a face mask weekly: Set some time out each week for some well-needed self care and sit down for a nice, soothing face mask. You can purchase these in-store or make a homemade one.
- Exfoliate: You have to remove those dead skin cells clogging your pores somehow and exfoliating is one of the only few ways to do just that. Whether it’s through dermaplaining or a DIY scrub, don’t forget to skip this step.
By following a few simple, natural home remedies for acne and sharpening up on your skincare, you can help restore your skin’s health, reduce unsightly pimples or other types of irritation, and prevent acne scars. So, whether it’s staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, using essential oils and choosing the right products, there are many effective ways to tackle acne and get clear, glowing skin that you can be proud of.