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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Acne Treatments

How acne develops?

Acne develops when your body produces an excess amount of sebum, which is an oily substance that lubricates your hair and skin. Excess sebum and dead skin cells plug the hair follicles. Bacteria can trigger inflammation and infection resulting in complications of acne.

Acne Treatments

By reducing oil production, speeding up the growth of new skin cells and removing the dead skin cells, or fighting bacterial infection, acne treatments can help lessen the inflammation and the number of acne.

Combination therapies
They target all the causes of acne, which makes the treatment plan more successful.
  • Retinoids and oral antibiotics- They are derived from vitamin A (retinoids) which can be combined with oral antibiotics for better treatment of acne. Retinoids promote cell turnover and prevent the plugging of hair follicle. Oral antibiotics kill bacteria and reduce inflammation.
  • Benzoyl peroxide and topical antibiotics- The efficacy of benzoyl peroxide increases when it is combined with topical antibiotics. Benzoyl peroxide can dry up the oil, kill bacteria and promote sloughing of dead skin cells. Topical antibiotics can kill bacteria on the skin's surface and fight inflammation.

Laser and Light Therapy

Laser treatment is thought to damage the sebaceous glands while light therapy targets Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), the bacterium that causes acne inflammation. These therapies can also improve skin texture and lessen the appearance of scars.

Types of Laser and Light Therapy:

  • Blue light therapy- P. acnes are destroyed when the skin is exposed to a low-intensity blue light. This painless procedure is usually done through a series of sessions, each lasting about 15 minutes. However, side effects can also be observed and these include pigment changes, swelling in the treated areas and dryness.
  • Pulsed light and heat energy therapy- The mechanism involved in this combined therapy is that it destroys P. acnes and shrinks sebaceous glands, which decreases the oil production. Side effects of this therapy include temporary redness in the treated areas.
  • Diode laser treatment- It can destroy oil (sebaceous) glands in the dermis, the thick middle layer of skin, without harming the outer layer of skin. This treatment may be painful, but the pain can be controlled with analgesics applied to the skin before treatment. Side effects of this laser treatment include temporary redness and swelling of the treated areas.

Cosmetic Procedures

Tradictionally, these cosmetic procedures have been used to lessen the appearance of fine lines, sun damage and minor facial scars. And now, they are found to be most effective when used in combination with other acne treatments.

  • Chemical peels- Glycolic acid or salicylic acid will help remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, remove whiteheads and blackheads, and can generate new skin growth. These chemical peels are often used with acne creams or gels for better penetration of the medication. Depending on strength of the chemical, side effects range from temporary redness, blisters, scaling and crusting to scarring, infection and abnormal skin coloring.
  • Microdermabrasion- In this treatment, crystals are being blown into the skin. These crystals gently abrade or "polish" the skin's surface. Then, a vacuum tube removes the crystals and skin cells. The procedure exfoliates and unclogs pores.

Acne can't be cured, only controlled. Controlling acne needs patience. Improvements are often seen after 6-8 weeks of treatment and usually, acne might appear worse before it gets better. But if you stick to your treatment regimen, your patience may pay off with clearer skin. Always consult your dermatologist for problems, never self-medicate.

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