Myth #1: Acne is caused by poor hygiene. If you believe this myth, and wash your skin hard and frequently, you can actually make your acne worse. Acne is not caused by dirt or surface skin oils. Although excess oils, dead skin and a day's accumulation of dust on the skin looks unsightly, they should not be removed by hand scrubbing. Vigorous washing and scrubbing will actually irritate the skin and make acne worse. The best approach to hygiene and acne: Gently wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser, pat dry--and use an appropriate acne treatment for the acne.
Myth #2: Acne is caused by diet. Extensive scientific studies have not found a connection between diet and acne. In other words, food does not cause acne. Not chocolate. Not french fries. Not pizza. Nonetheless, some people insist that certain foods affect their acne. In that case, avoid those foods. Besides, eating a balanced diet always makes sense. However, according to the scientific evidence, if acne is being treated properly, there's no need to worry about food affecting the acne.
Myth #3: Acne is caused by stress. The ordinary stress of day-to-day living is not an important factor in acne. Severe stress that needs medical attention is sometimes treated with drugs that can cause acne as a side effect. If you think you may have acne related to a drug prescribed for stress or depression, you should consult your physician.
Myth #4: Acne is just a cosmetic disease. Yes, acne does affect the way people look and is not otherwise a serious threat to a person’s physical health. However, acne can result in permanent physical scars--plus, acne itself as well as its scars can affect the way people feel about themselves to the point of affecting their lives.
Myth #5: You just have to let acne run its course. The truth is, acne can be cleared up. If the acne products you have tried haven’t worked, consider seeing a dermatologist. With the products available today, there is no reason why someone has to endure acne or get acne scars.
What causes acne?
The causes of acne are linked to the changes that take place as young people mature from childhood to adolescence (puberty). The hormones that cause physical maturation also cause the sebaceous (oil) glands of the skin to produce more sebum (oil). The hormones with the greatest effect on sebaceous glands are androgens (male hormones), which are present in females as well as males, but in higher amounts in males.
The sebaceous glands are found together with a hair shaft in a unit called a sebaceous follicle. During puberty, the cells of the skin that line the follicle begin to shed more rapidly. In people who develop acne, cells shed and stick together more so than in people who do not develop acne. When cells mix with the increased amount of sebum being produced, they can plug the opening of the follicle. Meanwhile, the sebaceous glands continue to produce sebum, and the follicle swells up with sebum.
In addition, a normal skin bacteria called P.acnes, begins to multiply rapidly in the clogged hair follicle. In the process, these bacteria produce irritating substances that can cause inflammation.Sometimes, the wall of the follicle bursts, spreading inflammation to the surrounding skin. This is the process by which acne lesions, from blackheads to pimples to nodules, are formed.
I wash my face several times a day. Why do I still get acne?
Many people still believe that acne is caused by dirty skin. The truth is, washing alone will not clear up or prevent acne. Washing does, however, help remove excess surface oils and dead skin cells. Many people use all kinds of products, including alcohol-based cleansers, and scrub vigorously, only to irritate the skin further and worsen their acne. Washing the skin twice a day gently with a gentle cleansing routine is usually all that is required. However, acne is actually caused by a variety of biologic factors that are beyond the control of cleansing. For that reason, you should use appropriate acne treatments for the acne.
Does stress cause acne?
Stress is commonly blamed for the development of acne. Stress can have many physiologic effects on the body, including changes in hormones that may theoretically lead to acne. In some cases the stress may actually be caused by the acne lesions, not the other way around! If the acne is being treated effectively, stress is not likely to have much impact on the majority of people.
I never had acne as a teenager. Why am I now getting acne as an adult?
Usually, acne begins at puberty and is gone by the early 20s. In some cases, acne may persist into adulthood. Such types of acne include severe forms that affect the body as well as the face (which afflict males more than females) and acne associated with the menstrual cycle in women. In other cases, acne may not present itself until adulthood. Such acne is more likely to affect females than males.
There are several reasons for this. As females get older, the pattern of changes in hormones may itself change, disposing sebaceous glands to develop acne. Ovarian cysts and pregnancy may also cause hormonal changes that lead to acne. Some women get acne when they discontinue birth control pills that have been keeping acne at bay. Sometimes young women may wear cosmetics that are comedogenic-that is, they can set up conditions that cause comedones to form.
What role does diet play in acne?
Acne is not caused by food. Following a strict diet will not clear your skin. While some people feel that their acne is aggravated by certain foods, particularly chocolate, colas, peanuts, shellfish and some fatty foods, there is no scientific evidence that suggests food causes or influences acne. Avoid any foods which seem to worsen your acne and, for your overall health, eat a balanced diet--but diet shouldn't really matter if the acne is being appropriately treated.
Does the sun help acne?
Many patients feel that sunlight improves their acne lesions and go to great lengths to find sources of ultraviolet light. There is no proven effect of sunlight on acne. In addition, ultraviolet light in sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer and early aging of the skin. It is, therefore, not a recommended technique of acne management, especially since there are many other proven forms of treatment for acne. Moreover, many acne treatments increase the skin's sensitivity to ultraviolet light, making the risk of ultraviolet light exposure all the worse.
What is the best way to treat acne?
Everyone's acne must be treated individually. If you have not had good results from the acne products you have tried, you may need to change your routine. However a home care regime is more effective in conjunction with in salon treatments, and this also needs to be monitored or adjusted depending on the response to the treatment.
What kind of cosmetics and cleansers can an acne patient use?
"Noncomedogenic" cosmetics and toiletries. These products have been formulated so that they will not cause acne.
Some acne products cause irritation or pronounced dryness particularly during the early weeks of therapy, and some cosmetics and cleansers can actually worsen this effect. The choice of cosmetics and cleansers should be made with your skin care therapist.
Heavy foundation makeup should be avoided. Most acne clients should select foundations that are developed by a specialized skin care range, because they are less irritating and non-comedogenic. Camouflaging techniques can be used effectively by applying a green undercover treatment over red acne lesions to promote color blending, a powder base is less irritating to the skin.
Is it harmful to squeeze my blemishes?
Yes. In general, acne lesions should not be picked or squeezed by the sufferer. In particular, inflammatory acne lesions should never be squeezed. Squeezing forces infected material deeper into the skin, causing additional inflammation and possible scarring.
Can anything be done about scarring caused by acne?
Scarring is best prevented by getting rid of the acne. We use various methods to improve the scarring caused by acne. The treatment must always be individualized for the specific client. High strength peels may be used in some clients, while micro-dermabrasion or photorejuvination may benefit others. It is important that the acne be well controlled before any procedure is used to alleviate scarring.
"There is no single disease which causes more psychological trauma, more maladjustment between parents and children, more general insecurity and feelings of inferiority and greater sums of psychological suffering than does acne vulgaris." --Sulzberger & Zaldems, 1948.
While known for quite some time, the psychosocial effects of acne have not been fully appreciated until recently. The reasons for this are many. After all, everyone gets acne to one degree or another. In most cases, it goes away on its own. While it's running its course, it is not a serious threat to anyone's overall physical health. In addition, until the last couple of decades, there was very little anyone could do to treat it.
Acne, nonetheless, has a significant impact on a person's outlook on life. Recent studies have detected the following as common among people with acne:
The effects listed above are often interrelated, with one effect leading to another and another, only to make the first effect worse. These negative psychosocial effects can have a crippling impact, discouraging them from pursuing life's opportunities--socially, on the job, or at school.
Today, virtually every case of acne can be resolved. The key to getting rid of acne lesions and preventing new ones from forming lies in knowing that:
Resolution takes time
Treatments that promise “fast,” miraculous” or “overnight” results often capture the attention of acne sufferers hoping for quick resolution. However, the fact remains that acne does not clear overnight. On average, 6 to 8 weeks are needed to see initial results. Once acne significantly improves or clears, continued treatment is needed to keep acne from re-appearing. If acne does not improve in 6 to 8 weeks, treatment may need to be adjusted as not every acne treatment clears every case of acne.
What works for one person may not work for another
What is an appropriate treatment for one person may not clear another’s acne because many factors affect resolution, including the cause(s) of the acne, a person’s skin type and the kind of acne lesions present.
A dermatologist’s help may be required
With severe acne, a dermatologist’s help can make a difference. Before prescribing treatment, dermatologists consider several factors, including the severity of the acne, types of lesions present, co-existing conditions, as well as the patient’s age, skin type, lifestyle and motivation.
Acne responds especially well to early treatment. We recommend that acne be treated early to maximize effectiveness as well as help prevent scarring.
Good skin care plays an important role in treating acne. Following these skin care guidelines can help improve treatment results:
Do NOT pop, squeeze or pick at acne
This can make acne worse by spreading inflammation. With correct treatment, removing lesions’ is rarely necessary: however, when comedo removal is needed, it should be performed by an experienced therapist with the correct preparation of the skin.
Gently wash your face twice a day with prescribed products
Acne does not cause by poor hygiene, and vigorous washing and scrubbing will not clear your skin. In fact, all that scrubbing can irritate your skin and make acne worse. The way to clear acne is with appropriate acne products and good skin care.
Use “noncomedogenic” (does not clog pores) cosmetics and toiletries
When buying cosmetics and other products that you will use on your skin or hair, be sure to look for ones labeled “noncomedogenic”. Makeup, sunscreens and toiletries that are not likely to cause acne state that they are “noncomedogenic” on the product.
Avoid aggravating your acne
Oily hair, sporting equipment that rubs against your skin and airborne grease, all can irritate and make your acne worse. Ways you can avoid these situations include:
Give acne products enough time to do their job
Ask your therapist how much time is needed for each particular product to work. This way you’ll know when you can expect to see clearly and not stop using the product (s) before you see results. As a rule of thumb, it takes 6 to 8 weeks before you begin to see an improvement.
Use product(s) as directed
Using more products than directed will not improve results. In fact, it can make acne worse by aggravating the skin. Be sure to read all labels and use accordingly or as instructed by your skin care therapist.
Avoid excess exposure to sunlight, and do not use tanning booths
Contrary to popular belief, tanning does not clear acne: it simply masks acne. Tanning also increases one’s risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancers. Additionally, some acne treatments can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, and ultraviolet light from tanning booths. If you have acne, it is important to protect your skin by following sun-protection practices, such as wearing sunscreens and avoiding sunburns.
Regular visits with your skin care therapist
This allows the therapist to monitor your progress, and to make any adjustments to your program. Today, almost every case of acne can be cleared, especially with a skin care therapists’ help.