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Acne Treatment : The Ins And Outs
Considering the widespread nature of its occurrence, most of you will probably find it surprising that medical science is yet to find a cure for acne. However, that’s the way it is, and the best means to combat acne remain prevention and often long-term treatment. The thing is that even if your acne has disappeared for the time being, it will require constant monitoring on your part to make sure the blight never comes back, and that takes some doing.
The silver lining…
Kimberley Hines, a 31-year-old teacher from Little Rock, Arkansas, says she sought a ‘cure’ for her long-standing acne problem for years before realizing that there was no such thing. “I finally accepted the fact that I would never find a cure for my acne, and that the only way forward was to control it through regular treatment,” she says.
Happily, there are several ways to treat acne. And it is important to realize that a large part of acne treatment is about dedicated skincare. Therefore, the old ‘mild soap and lukewarm water’ wash is as important as it ever was. This is because your skin needs to be clean so as to prevent dirt and grime from accumulating beneath the pores and creating a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Besides, a twice-daily wash also helps remove excess oil (sebum) from your skin’s surface, thus reducing the chances of an acne outbreak.
Some serious steps
Of course, most cases of acne require more than just a daily wash. So you have countless over the counter (OTC) creams and lotions, almost all of them containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Of the two, benzoyl peroxide is particularly effective in cases of mild acne, because it has anti-bacterial properties and also dries out excess sebum. Salicylic acid, meanwhile, unclogs pores and prevents lesions.
However, neither benzoyl peroxide nor salicylic acid can be a permanent solution for acne because unlike stronger drugs, they do not have a permanent impact on acne. So, says dermatologist Dr Jennifer Sanders, those with severe acne need professional help. “Dermatologists have a choice of topical antibiotics, retinoids, oral medication, hormonal therapy, and corticosteroids,” she adds.
Pros and Cons
Topical antibiotics are the first line of defense, but over-exposure to them may cause antibiotic resistance. Retinoids (such as Accutane) are far more effective in treating acne. In fact, Accutane makes acne disappear completely, because it strikes at the root of the problem by cutting down sebum production, but retinoids are not safe for use for all types of patients, particularly those suffering from clinical depression, pregnant or nursing women, and those with certain other medical conditions. Therefore, before you embark on a course of retinoids, always consult a dermatologist.
Because the male hormone testosterone plays a significant role in the development of acne, hormonal therapy involves administering the female hormone estrogen to patients. In fact, women who use birth control pills, which contain estrogen, often report a lessening in their acne.
Corticosteroids are usually administered over short durations to treat the severest forms of acne. As in hormonal therapy, they help cut down on excess secretion of male hormones.
So all in all, there are various acne treatment options you can avail. Just be sure to consult your dermatologist to find out the one that best suits you.
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