Acne is a condition that affects a significant number of people from teens to adults. Although it is not a deadly condition, it can affect a person’s life physically, emotionally and even socially. Acne, especially the severe types such as the nodular acne, normally leaves unsightly skin blemishes and tiny holes on the skin. Depending on the extent of the skin damage, it can cause a person be become self-conscious or even lose his or her confidence.
Acne develops when the skin pores are clogged with oil and dirt. This is more common among people with a naturally oily skin. It is also common among runners and other athletes whose routines allow them to sweat more frequently. Track and field runners often practice outdoors under the blazing heat of the sun, causing them to sweat excessively. When the sweat is not washed away immediately by bathing, it can irritate the already existing acne as well as attract dirt and dust which can clog the pores, leading to the formation of new acne. That is why it is not uncommon for runners to have acne in various parts of the body including the face, scalp and back.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for acne, but certain treatment options are available to control and manage it. The goal of acne treatment is to inhibit the production of sebum and reduce bacterial growth which contributes to acne. Some treatments are also directed toward clearing the skin spots or reducing their future formation and encouraging the unclogging of pores and shedding of skin cells to promote new skin growth.
- Wash the affected area twice daily with mild soap and lukewarm water. Any less may cause the dirt to accumulate and clog the pores, and any more can irritate the skin, causing the symptoms to become worse.
- Don’t squeeze or prick blackheads and nodules as they can cause scarring.
- Avoid using oil-based skin care products and cosmetics as they can block the pores.
- Do not go to bed without removing make-up.
- Shower as soon as possible after doing activities that cause you to sweat.
Aside from observing self-care, the following over-the-counter and prescription medications may also be used for treatment:
- Topical treatments in the form of lotion, gel and cream that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide
- Antibiotic tablet or topical cream
- Topical retinoids
- Azelaic acid
- Isotretinoin tablets
Many of these medications can take months before the results become noticeable; but in some cases, they may not work at all.
When all else fails, non-pharmaceutical treatments which are more aggressive forms of treatment may be recommended by your doctor. These include:
- Chemical peels – Chemical peels such as salicylic acid peel are an acne treatment that causes the skin to peel off, allowing new skin to grow.
- Comedone extractor – This is a treatment method where a small instrument that looks like a pen is used to clear out blackheads and whiteheads.
- Light therapy – This treatment method involves the use of light to improve the appearance of the affected area.
Non-pharmaceutical treatments should be the last resort in treating acne. Acne can be hard to treat because it can develop or recur anytime. It is important for patients to thoroughly discuss with their dermatologists the best course of action to control and manage this condition.