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Acne Treatment, Finally Some Facts

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Acne is, perhaps, the single treated skin disorder and has been addressed in a wide variety of ways. Often the wisest step is to develop a program in consultation with a dermatologist or medical practitioner. Even with help, there may be a trial-and-error process in finding the right solution. There are also some solutions advised by alternative medicine practitioners of various sorts and we will also touch on them.

Some mild washing of the face may be useful. But vigorous and frequent washing is discouraged by dermatologists. Topical creams may be helpful but overuse can lead to side effects and problems.  One popular home treatment is salicylic acid, found in face washes and medicated facial pads. It curtails the hair follicles from shedding excess skin, which leads to the clogging of pores. Another home treatment is benzoyl peroxide, found in certain soap and face wash products, but also in topical creams. It can produce excessive drying and redness- so it is often recommended that one begin by trying it once a day and, then, if that works, try it twice. Results should be apparent after a few weeks.

In the world of orthodox medicine, there are various types of prescription medications and face washes. If you go to your local drugstore or supermarket, you can find lots of different products whose objective is to treat acne. None of these products produce instantaneous results and one part of a sensible prescription for treatment is patience. Since some of these products may have side effects, you should know their contents and possible effects. Over-use of the wrong product can actually exaggerate the condition.

Experts generally think that acne is caused when an excess of oil, secreted by tiny glands surrounding the hair follicles combine with dead skins to clog the pores of the skin. Bacteria, chiefly Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes develops in these pore pockets which leads to the blackheads, white heads and more common pimples that we associate with this unpleasant form.

Some of the prescription topical solutions include antibiotics. Antibiotics, along with azelaic acid can impede the development of the bacteria, reducing the ugly inflammation that characterizes acne.

Comedones, which are the compromised hair follicles, plugged with dead cells and sebum, that cause blackheads, which penetrate the surface of the skin, and whiteheads, which operate at semi-surface levels. They can actually be treated by retinoids, which are Vitamin-A like biochemical formulations, which actually help to unplug comedones, paving the way for topicals, including antibiotics, to enter into the follicles and do their damage. Dermatologists sometimes use the newer retinoids to curtail further comedone development.

In the case of severer forms of acne, dermatologists may prescribe the less physically invasive route of oral medicine. Some common antibiotics, used to curb the development of the P. acnes bacteria and reduce inflammation are doxycycline, tetracycline and minocyclyine. The common topical, benzoyl peroxide, may be used with antibiotics such as sulfur, erythromycin or clindamycin. There can be disturbing side affects to antibiotics, depending on the drug and the individual's sensitivity. Changes in skin color, an increased propensity for sunburns, dizziness, stomach problems can occur. Tetracycline is contra- indicated in children and pregnant women. The antibiotic route must be taken with caution and with awareness of problems. Substances such as minocycline and tetracycline can even affect the potency of oral birth control methods.

In very serious cases of nodular or cystic acne that seems resistant to treatment, a dermatologist may prescribe isotretinoin or "Accutane," a retinoid that might be taken once or twice a day for up to twenty weeks. Oil glands actually can be shrunk by Accutane and there is a marked effect on the growth of bacteria. Its great advantage is that it can prevent scarring and markedly disappears the acne in something like 90 per cent of patients.

The downside of isotretinoin is that it can cause birth defects in an unborn child if it imbibed by a pregnant woman. So woman undergoing this treatment often have two take several forms of birth control to make sure they don't get pregnant while undergoing therapy.

Are there natural treatments for acne? Alternative medical practitioners recommend such substances as pantothenic acid, a B vitamin, said to combat stress, a factor that aggravates acne, grapeseed extracts and grapefruit seed extracts; various essential fatty acids like primrose or flax seed oil which can allegedly clear the pores of the skin, colloidal silver, said to be a powerful natural antibiotic; tea tree oil soap- whose main active constituent is tea tree oil, said to be made from a natural antibiotic.


By George ForganSmith
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