What is Acne? Called Acne Vulgaris in the medical world it is a combination of dead cells, plugged skin pores and excess sebum on the surface of the skin. This combination could attract bacteria too which could result in an infection. Mostly seen to occur on the face it could also erupt on the back, neck, and shoulders of the body. In this article, we bring for you the best acne treatment that you can try at home.
There are sebaceous glands under the skin which make oil or sebum. This moves to the surface of the skin through pores and helps to keep the upper surface of the skin soft and moist. Hair follicles also grow in the pores. During the puberty years, there are ups and downs in the hormonal levels. This could cause the sebaceous glands to over produce oil which fills up the pores. Along with the hair follicles and dead skin cells the pores would now get plugged. This could result in blackheads, pimples or whiteheads.
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Causes of Acne
There are some direct and some indirect causes for the growth of acne.
1. Direct Causes
- During the teenage years due to excess of testosterone hormonal levels, there is over production of oil from the sebaceous glands which could cause acne.
- Consumption of certain drugs which contain androgen and lithium can cause acne to flare up.
- Hereditary could also be a cause for acne developing. If any of your parents had acne you could also likely have it.
- Extensive use of cosmetics which close up the pores on the skin could cause acne on the face and skin.
- Exposure to cutting oils in industrial environments could also be another cause for acne flaring up on the skin.
- Some of the medical conditions like PCOS that is polycystic ovary syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome could also cause acne.
2. Indirect Causes
- Bad food habits like eating of excess carbohydrates and sugar are supposed to aid in the growth of acne.
- High-stress levels are also attributed to acne development.
- Regular consumption of contraceptive pills can make acne worse.
- Around the menstrual cycle, time acne could flare up on the face indicating periods are in the offing.
- Tweaking and touching the pimples makes the inflammation worse and acne can spread to further areas.
- Exposure to high temperatures like in the kitchen can cause a sweaty face which in turn will plug the skin pores. Hence the spread of the acne would increase.
- Wearing tight clothes regularly especially undergarments can cause acne to flare up further.
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Types of Acne
1. Moderate Outbreak of Acne
The skin around the pores could get thick with an accumulation of dead cells and excess oil. This gives rise to blackheads where the tip of the small boil is black in colour. This colour is due to the skin pigment and not due to dirt.
Sometimes sebum also gets accumulated below the surface of the skin giving rise to pink or red spots on the skin. These are called pimples or papules.
Normally eruptions of the above kind do not progress further and are seen as small dark spots which go away with acne treatment.
2. Severe Outbreak of Acne
Propioni bacteria which exists on the skin surface is sometimes harmless. But when it gets inside the plugged skin pores which have excess sebum, it could give rise to infections. When infection sets in, the immune system reacts causing inflammation. This causes the surrounding area to become pinkish red and get filled with pus. These are called pustules. Sometimes many of the pustules could get together to form nodules which are called cysts.
The inflamed part would get healed over time but leave a dark mark or scar. Sometimes there would be a permanent pit in the place of the inflamed area. This would remind you that you had acne sometime in your life.
Acne is found to affect 8 of 10 teenagers. Even adults and older people are known to get acne.
Home Remedies for Acne Treatment
Though there is a number of over the counter products for acne treatment, you could try out some simple home remedies first.
1. Baking Soda
Using baking soda for acne treatment is a simple and effective solution. Its use causes peeling of the skin and hence removal of excess sebum and dead skin cells. It also works as an antiperspirant.
Mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda with lemon juice in a bowl. Stir it to make a paste. Wash the area of pimples clean, with water and dry it. Now apply the baking soda paste and leave it to dry. It should be left to dry for a few minutes only. If left for a longer time it might cause intense drying of skin. Later wash the paste off with some warm water.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is acidic in composition and hence very effective in removal of pimples. By using it on the skin it balances the pH value thus ensuring that bacteria and other germs don’t thrive in this environment. Its astringent property allows for removal of excess oil.
Take 1 part of organic apple cider vinegar and 3 parts of water in a bowl. Mix it well. Wash your face or any other area of your body which has acne. Dry it with a towel. Take a cotton ball and dip it in this solution. Apply the solution to the affected area and leave it to dry for around 10 minutes. Don’t leave it too long else it could cause excess drying of the skin. Wash it off with warm water. To see results quickly follow this procedure 2 to 3 times in a day.
3. Fuller’s Earth or Multani Mitti
This light brown coloured mud or earth can be used as an acne face mask. It helps in absorbing all the excess oil from the acne area and hence gets rid of acne. It does not over dry the skin and aids in opening up of the skin pores. It is a homemade mask for acne treatment.
Take 2 to 3 teaspoons of Fuller’s earth in a bowl. You can buy this ingredient from any grocery store. Add an equal amount of sandalwood powder to it. Slowly add in some rose water and make a nice paste. Wash and dry the face or any other area which needs this application. Take some of this paste and apply it over the affected area. If it is the face you can cover the complete area of the face. Allow it to completely dry. Wash it off with some warm water. Repeat this procedure once a week to see results.
4. Tree Tea Oil
Tree tea oil is a disinfectant and helps in killing of the bacteria in the skin pores. This will reduce the inflammation around the acne and dry it up.
Take 2 to 3 teaspoons of tea tree oil in a bowl. Wash and pat dry the area of pimples. Dip a cotton swab into the solution. Apply it on the affected area. Allow it to dry completely. Later wash the area with some warm water. If you find the tea tree solution too strong and giving rise to redness and irritability to the skin, do the following. Dilute the solution with water and add a few drops of aloe vera gel into it and then use the mixture. Repeat this procedure everyday.
5. Steaming the Affected Area
The best acne treatment is steaming. Exposing the acne affected area to steam helps in opening up of the skin pores. Once the pores are opened there is no cause excess oil or dirt to settle into it.
Take a pot with water and set it to boil on fire. When the water starts boiling remove the pot. Hold the face close to the pot exposing the area affected with acne. Cover the head with a towel so that the steam gets trapped. If it is some other part of the body expose that to the steam. After some 10 minutes of exposure to the steam, pat dry the area. Repeat this procedure 2 to 3 times a day for 5 days continuously to see results.
Precautions to Take to Avoid Flare Up of Acne
- Do not wash face or acne affected area with strong soaps. Use mild soaps and lukewarm water. Very hot or very cold water should not be used for acne affected skin. Also, ensure that you do not scrub the skin very hard while washing it.
- Greasy cosmetics or ointments should not be used if you have acne. This will only make the state worse and not help in getting rid of pimples.
- Antiseptic face wash could be used for washing face with acne.
- Blackheads should not be plucked for it is not dirt. It is just skin pigmentation.
- Wash the affected area normally. You need not increase the frequency of washing.
Having acne is a common issue today. It is very embarrassing for teenagers as it brings down their self-esteem. Use of natural acne treatment is definitely a quick fix for the problem. If the problem continues even after carrying out some of the home based treatments, a dermatologist can be consulted.