Thursday, February 4, 2010

Acne Relief

Believe it or not, treating acne is not as simple as some believe. There are different kinds of acne that require different treatments and what might work for one, might not work for another.
It's important to know what kind of acne you need to treat before buying products.Sadly, neither I nor anyone else would be able to help if you have any of the severe forms that require to trip to the dermatologist. Please, if you suffer from disfiguring acne, seek help from a doctor! They CAN help you! This has always been something I was passionate about since I had suffered for years with acne, even as an adult. It took me many years and many treatments to find the right one. Hopefully your search won't have to take so long. I have a variety of different treatment options and I'm more than happy to answer any questions you may have and help you find the right product.

Opening February 14th

Below is a list of the different types of acne, I'll get into treatments in a bit.

Acne Vulgaris is the most common form of acne. Acne vulgaris lesions include blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

Mild to Moderate acne vulgaris consists of the following types of acne spots:

Whiteheads: Whiteheads result when a pore is completely blocked, trapping sebum (oil), bacteria, and dead skin cells, causing a white appearance on the surface. Whiteheads are normally quicker in life cycle than blackheads. These are best treated with BHA (Salicyclic Acid) and vitamin A

Blackheads: Blackheads result when a pore is only partially blocked, allowing some of the trapped sebum (oil), bacteria, and dead skin cells to slowly drain to the surface. The black color is not caused by dirt. Rather, it is the skin's own pigment, melanin, reacting with the oxygen in the air. A blackhead tends to be a stable structure, and can often take a long time to clear. BHA therapy along with Vitamin A is the most effective treatment.

Papules: Papules are inflamed, red, tender bumps with no head. Do not squeeze a papule. It will do no good, and may exacerbate scarring. Vitamin C and A as well as niacinamide are the most effective in treating this tye of acne.

Pustules: A pustule is inflamed, and appears as a red circle with a white or yellow center. Pustules are your garden variety zit. Before you pop or squeeze such a lesion, be sure to sanitize your face, hands and sterilize a needle. Do not apply pressure! This type is best treated with Vitamins C, E and A as well as Tea Tree oil and Pink Grapefruit essential oil

Severe acne vulgaris is characterized by nodules and cysts:
Nodules: As opposed to the lesions mentioned above, nodular acne consists of acne spots which are much larger, can be quite painful, and can sometimes last for months. Nodules are large, hard bumps under the skin's surface. Scarring is common. Unresolved nodules can sometimes leave an impaction behind, which can flare again and again. Absolutely do not attempt to squeeze such a lesion. You may cause severe trauma to the skin and the lesion may last for months longer than it normally would. Dermatologists often have ways of lessening swelling and preventing scarring, such as injecting the lesion with cortisone.

Cysts: An acne cyst can appear similar to a nodule, but is pus-filled, and is described as having a diameter of 5mm or more across. They can be painful. Again, scarring is common with cystic acne. Squeezing an acne cyst may cause a deeper infection and more painful inflammation which will last much longer than if you had left it alone. Dermatologists often have ways of lessening swelling and preventing scarring, such as administering a cortisone shot. In my experience, this type is best treated with a combination of Tetracycline antibiotics as well as vitamins C, E and A.

Acne Rosacea can look similar to the aforementioned acne vulgaris, and the two types of acne are sometimes confused for one another.

Rosacea affects millions of people, most of whom are over the age of 30. It appears as a red rash which is normally confined to the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin. The redness is often accompanied by bumps, pimples, and skin blemishes. Blood vessels may also become more visible on the skin. Blackheads are not part of rosacea. It is more prevalent in women, but often more severe when found in men. Left untreated, it can cause swelling of the nose and the growth of excess tissue, a condition called rhinophyma. Treatment is often different for rosacea than for acne, and it is important that you consult a dermatologist if you suspect you are experiencing rosacea.

Acne Conglobata: This is the most severe form of acne vulgaris and is more common in males. It is characterized by numerous large lesions, which are sometimes interconnected, along with widespread blackheads. It can cause severe, irrevocable damage to the skin, and disfiguring scarring. It is found on the face, chest, back, buttocks, upper arms, and thighs. The age of onset for acne conglobata is usually between 18 to 30 years, and the condition can stay active for many years. As with all forms of acne, the cause of acne conglobata is unknown. Treatment usually

Acne Fulminans: This is an abrupt onset of acne conglobata which normally afflicts young men. Symptoms of severe nodulocystic, often ulcerating acne are apparent. As with acne conglobata, extreme, disfiguring scarring is common. Acne fulminans is unique in that it also includes a fever and aching of the joints. Acne fulminans does not respond well to antibiotics. Isotretinoin (Accutane) and oral steroids are normally prescribed. In my experience, a GOOD vitamin A treatment is effective.
My teenage son had fallen victim to this horrible plague and has responded well to my 4 step regimen which includes a gentle cleanser, BHA toner and niacinamide cream with vitamin A cream applied at bed time. Vitamin A increases sun sensitivity so, I suggest using it at bedtime.

Gram-Negative Folliculitis: This condition is a bacterial infection characterized by pustules and cysts, possibly occurring as a complication resulting from a long term antibiotic treatment of acne vulgaris. It is a rare condition, and we do not know if it is more common in males or females at this time. Fortunately, isotretinoin (Accutane) is often effective in combating gram-negative folliculitis.

Pyoderma Faciale (Rosacea Fulminans): This type of severe facial acne affects only females, usually between the ages of 20 to 40 years old, and is characterized by large painful nodules, pustules, and sores, all of which may scar. It begins abruptly, and may occur on the skin of a woman who has never had acne before. It is confined to the face, and usually does not last longer than one year, but can wreak havoc in a very short time. Doctors often prescribe isotretinoin (Accutane) and systemic corticosteroids are sometimes use an an adjunct.

Treatment Options

Different kinds of acne require different kinds of treatments. Below are a list of ingredients I use that are proven to help and are also kinder to the skin. You should avoid Benzoyl Peroxide (Proactive) at all costs! By using it, you may be causing more harm than good. Here's some info on it:

Benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient used in many acne products, generates free radicals and skin damage. It promotes skin damage in a manner similar to unprotected sun exposure. The redness caused by the application of benxoyl peroxide to the skin is a visible demonstration of "oxidative stress" or free radicals causing skin damage to the components and chemistry of the skin. Repeated unprotected sun exposure causes skin damage and premature skin aging which promotes the potential of skin cancer. Repeated application of benzoyl peroxide has been found to have the same result. The extent of skin damage from benzoyl peroxide is determined by the concentration of the benzoyl peroxide, the frequency of application and the duration of its use.

Benzoyl peroxide is used in acne products because it effectively kills the bacteria which causes acne. On the other hand, benzoyl peroxide generates free radicals that interfere with and slow the skins healing process. The red and brown marks that are a part of the acne healing process may last weeks longer when benzoyl peroxide is a regular part of the daily acne products regimen.

A majority of acne is caused by dirt, oil and bacteria that gets stuck in your pores. Skin can become inflamed and your immune system's responds by sending white blood cells to the area of infection. This is what makes pimples "poppable" for lack of better term.

I recommend that everyone have a regimen to follow. You first need to gently cleanse. Harsh cleansers will only irritate the skin and make your face produce more oil.

Next, you need to use a clarifying toner, preferably with BHA to help exfoliate the lining of your pores and to "unglue" dead skin cells, a good stable vitamin C and vitamin A to help shrink the pores, decrease oil production, stimulate cell growth and collagen and make it an undesirable area for bacteria to grow (acidity in vitamin c will do this). Vitamin E helps as an anti-bacterial agent as well as tea tree oil and pink grapefruit essential oils. However, too much of these essential oils may cause skin to appear dull, so you need the right balance.

Niacinamide is also wonderful for treating acne.
You can read about it HERE

Using a good moisturizer is also important to proper skin care. Natural oils such as shea, grapeseed, and jojoba will not clog the pores and actually form a breathable barrier on the skin.
avoid any products that contain mineral oil or dimethicone or any ingredient that ends with "cone"
You can read about those HERE

A full list of acne treatment products and regimens can be found in my Etsy Shop

*Pictures courtesy of the internet


Pattie said...

Oh my goodness thank you!
I actually sat through and read all of this, very nice to have it all in one place :)