Category Archives: Acne Treatment Tips

What causes acne?

The simple answer is clogged pores. Acne develops when pores or follicles get blocked and infected. Acne is a disease that involves the oil or sebaceous glands of the skin. Your skin has pores (tiny holes) that connect to oil glands located under the skin. These glands are connected to the pores via follicles or small canals. These glands also produce sebum, an oily liquid, which moisturizes the skin and carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of your skin. A small hair grows through the follicle out of the skin.

Pimples and other forms of acne grow when these follicles get blocked. Skin cells, sebum and hair can clump together into a plug. This plug gets infected with bacteria, resulting in a swelling and causing red bumps or acne to appear.

Beware of these hidden causes that can trigger or make your acne worse.

  • Menstrual cycle – Girls and women who have acne often tend to get it worse one or two weeks before their menstrual period arrives. This is likely due to the hormonal changes that take place.
  • Food Allergies – studies show certain types of foods can trigger acne in some people. These foods include starchy, greasy or processed foods; red meat; eggs; foods that contain gluten; red meat; and dairy products.
  • Dehydration – not drinking enough water – at least eight 8-ounce glasses or two liters per day – can contribute to acne breakouts.
  • Not enough rest – getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night is critical to balancing your hormones, keeping your immune system strong and combatting stress to help keep your acne breakouts at bay.
  • Anxiety and stress – mental stress can affect your levels of some hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn can make your acne worse. Stress can also cause some people to go on eating and/or drinking binges which can aggravate acne.
  • Hot and humid climates – we sweat more when it is hot and humid. This can make acne worse.
  • Oil based makeups – avoid moisturizing creams, lubricating lotions, and all makeups that contain oil as these products can quickly block your pores.
  • Greasy hair – remember that some hair products are also very greasy, which can have the same pore-blocking results as oil based makeups. For example hair products with cocoa butter or coconut butter should be avoided.
  • Squeezing the pimples – resist the temptation to squeeze or pop your pimples. This often causes your acne to get worse, plus it leads to scarring.


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How to get rid of acne.

The best way to treat or cure your acne depends on how persistent and severe it is.

Cures and Treatments for Mild Acne

Most people who have acne suffer from mild acne. This condition can usually be treated with acne supplements and other over-the-counter (OTC) medications, which can be bought at a pharmacy or health food store without a doctor’s prescription.  Supplements are usually in the form of pills, while other treatments are called topical medicines, as they are typically applied to the surface of the skin and/or the acne itself.

Most acne supplements contain vitamins, minerals and other herbs and nutrients – such as Vitamin A, B, E and Zinc – known to help support healthy skin, as well as assist the immune system detoxify the body and fight acne. Many of these supplements do not have side effects as the body flushes away any excess nutrients.

Over-the-country (OTC) products for topical applications may contain active ingredients such as:

  • Resorcinol – a crystalline phenol that helps break down blackheads and whiteheads.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide – a white crystalline peroxide that works as a peeling agent to reduce the bacterial count in the affected area and slow down the glands’ production of oil.
  • Salicylic Acid – a white crystalline substance that is also used as a fungicide. It helps break down blackheads and whiteheads, reduces shedding of cells which line the follicles of the oil glands, and helps treat inflammation and swelling. Salicylic acid also causes the epidermis to shed skin more easily and prevents pores from becoming blocked while at the same time allowing room for new cells to grow.
  • Sulfur – a yellow crystalline solid that has been used for centuries for treating acne, psoriasis and eczema. Sulfur helps break down blackheads and whiteheads by oxidizing to sulfurous acid and acting as a mild reducing and antibacterial agent.
  • Retin-A – an acid form of Vitamin A which helps unplug blocked pores and combat skin aging. It also acts as a chemical peel.
  • Azelaic Acid – a saturated dicarboxylic acid found in wheat, rye, and barley that  strengthens cells in the follicles, stops oil eruptions, and reduces bacteria growth and inflammation. It is useful for patients with darker skin who have dark patches on their face (melasma), or who have acne spots that leave persistent brown marks.

You can buy OTC acne medications in gels, soaps, pads, creams and lotions. If your skin is sensitive, you may prefer a cream or lotion. Gels, which are usually alcohol based and tend to dry the skin, are better for people with oily skin.

Another thing to remember is that OTC medications will have ingredients in different strengths. This is why it is advisable to start with the lowest dosage or amount. You may experience skin irritation, redness, and/or burning when you first apply them to your skin. These side effects usually go away after continued use. If they don’t go away, stop using the product and see your doctor.

Cures and Treatments for Severe Acne

If your acne is more severe, not only should you consider dietary supplements with vitamins and minerals – as well as diet and lifestyle changes – you should consider seeing a dermatologist. As a skin specialist, a dermatologist may prescribe a treatment that contains some of the active ingredients mentioned above, such as benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, as well as adabalene. Prescription medications for acne are presented in many forms, such as creams, lotions, etc. Your dermatologist will decide what is best for you.

You may be prescribed an oral or topical antibiotic. Antibiotics can combat the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation. Most commonly Erythromyocin and Tetracycline are prescribed as antibiotics for the treatment of acne.

Oral antibiotics are frequently prescribed for patients with moderate to severe acne. The goal of oral antibiotics is to lower the population of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), a bacterium commonly found on the skin, which will multiply rapidly in blocked follicles. The dosage will be initially high, and then as the acne symptoms abate, the dosage will be reduced. Antibiotics are usually not taken for more than six months. As time passes, the P. acnes can become resistant to the antibiotic and another antibiotic is needed.

If you have cysts, dermatologists normally treat them with an interlesional corticosteroid injection. If an acne cyst becomes severely inflamed, there is a high risk of rupturing. A rupturing acne cyst can often result in scarring. The specialist may inject a diluted corticosteroid to treat the inflamed cyst and to prevent scarring. The injection will lower the inflammation and speed up healing, usually causing the cyst to “melt” within a few days. Isotretinoin, a strong oral retinoid, may also be prescribed for the treatment of severe cystic acne, as well as severe acne that has not responded to other medications and treatments.

Another acne treatment is oral contraceptives. The majority of women with acne find that taking certain oral contraceptives clears their acne up. Oral contraceptives suppress overactive glands and are commonly used as long-term treatments for acne in women. If a woman has a blood-clotting disorder, smokes, has a history of migraines, or is over 35, she should not take oral contraceptives without consulting with her physician first.

A dermatologist may also prescribe topical antimicrobials for patients with moderate to severe acne. As with oral antibiotics, the aim of topical antimicrobials is to reduce P. acnes populations. Typical topical antimicrobials include clindamycin, erythromycin, and sodium sulfacetamide.

Finally, another option a dermatologist may prescribe is called a topical retinoid. Topical retinoids are a derivative of Vitamin A and are very popular for the treatment and cure of acne. They unclog the pores and prevent whiteheads and blackheads from developing. Some examples of topical retinoids that are prescribed in the USA include adapalene, tazarotene, and tretinoin.

Skin Care Tips to Help Treat and Cure Your Acne.

  • Wash your face about twice each day. Use warm water and a mild soap. Or use a soap made for people with acne. Do not scrub your skin. Also you may consider using an OTC lotion which contains benzoyl peroxide.
  • Do not try to pop your pimples. You may push the infection further down, causing more blocking and making the redness and swelling worse. Popping pimples also causes scars.
  • If you simply must get rid of a pimple for some important event – such as a wedding, photo or public appearance – ask a specialist to treat it for you.
  • Make every effort to refrain from touching your face with your hands. When you are on the phone, try not to let the receiver touch your face as there may there may be sebum and skin residue on it.
  • Keep your hands clean, wash them regularly.
  • Always wash your hands before touching your face. This includes before applying lotions, creams or makeup.
  • Clean your glasses regularly as they will collect sebum and skin residue.
  • If your acne is on your back, shoulders or chest – try wearing loose clothing. Your skin needs to breathe. Avoid tight garments, such as headbands, caps and scarves. If you have to wear them, make sure they are loose-fitting and cleaned regularly.
  • Only use makeup that is nonceomedogenic or nonacnegenic – you should be able to read this on the label.  If you cannot find it, ask. Use makeup that does not have oil and does not clog up the pores and do not go to sleep with makeup on.
  • Keep your hair clean and away from your face. Hair collects sebum and skin residue.
  • Limit your exposure to the sun. Too much sun can cause your skin to produce more sebum. Also, many acne medications will make you more sensitive to the sun and cause you to sunburn easily. So wear sunblock at all times.
  • If you shave your face, be careful. Use an electric shaver or safety razors. If you use a safety razor, make sure the blade is sharp. And remember to soften your skin and beard with warm soapy water before applying the shaving cream.


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Why do I get acne?

Scientists and medical experts admit to not being completely sure what causes acne. This is because evidence shows that acne can have a variety of causes, many of which can come into play at the same time.

Experts believe the primary cause of acne is a rise in androgen levels. Androgen, which is a type of hormone, rises when a human becomes an adolescent. Rising androgen levels make the oil glands under your skin grow and produce more oil. This excessive sebum then breaks down the cellular walls in your pores, causing bacteria to grow.

Some studies indicate that susceptibility to acne could also be genetic. Also, some medications which contain androgen and lithium may cause acne. Greasy cosmetics may also cause acne in some people. Hormone changes during pregnancy may cause acne to either develop for the first time, or to recur. In addition, an improper diet, food allergies and an unhealthy lifestyle can lead to acne.

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Few studies have been done about the link between food and acne. Because of that, many dermatologists continue to believe that there is no link to prove that greasy foods or dairy cause acne.

Drinking lots of water is one of the best treatments for almost all skin ailments. Without the proper amount of water in your skin, your cells cannot rebuild your body properly and have a tougher time eliminating waste. A buildup of toxins in the skin will likely result in acne. (more…)

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