What is the best skin care for acne?
We have all heard the old wives’ tales of getting a dewy soft skin. Bathe with milk a-la-Cleopatra, apply the salve used during the manual milking of cows, apply the milky sap of some tree and so on and so forth. Gentle reader, I have this to say to all that – Hogwash! Fiddle sticks! And a few other choice words that would scald your ears. Let’s first sit down and meet the dreaded enemy, offer them tea and kill them with kindness as we get to know and understand who our enemy is.
The name is acne!
How do we do away with it entirely? Is it possible?
Slowly but surely, we will find out.
What is Acne?
The human skin has pores that connect under the skin to the oil glands. For the oil glands to connect with the pores, these small sacs that produce and secrete liquid are called glands and they connect the two. The oil glands produce a liquid called sebum which is an oily liquid that carries dead skin cells through the small sacs called follicles to the surface of the skin, where a small hair grows through the follicle.
When the follicles get blocked, pimples start to form. This blockage or build up can get infected with bacteria and when this happens a pimple swells and even reddens.
This outbreak does not only target the face, the pimples may also occur on the back, shoulders, chest and neck. Depending on the severity of the acne, scars may occur on the skin.
Acne appears in people from all walks of life, but usually, targets those with oily skin. It has always been known as a teenage condition as it usually appears at the onset of puberty. But adults also experience acne as they age.
The sudden outbreak of pimples on the skin may be alarming, uncomfortable or even painful. The pimples are characterised by their appearance. Knowing their appearance can help you keep track of the outbreak as you seek first over the counter remedies and later as it becomes more severe the expert help of a dermatologist. These pimples are classified as follows: –
Whiteheads– These pimples tend to stay under the skin and occur when a pore closes up, the top of the pimple will appear white.
Blackheads – These pimples will occur when a blocked pore remains open. The surface will look black, hence the name.
Both these kinds of pimples are easier to treat and usually go away faster when treated with over the counter medication.
Papules – These are small bumps under the skin that may be tender and feel hard to the touch, usually they have a pink appearance.
Pustules – yellowish, pus filled pimples.
Both these pimples are a bit harder to treat and may need a visit to the dermatologist.
Nodules – These pimples appear deeper in the skin and are usually painful.
Cysts – These are pus filled pimples that often leave behind scars.
Both these types of pimples need the attention of a dermatologist.
Causes of Acne
Sadly, the case of acne is unknown. That being said, some certain factors may increase the occurrence of acne. These factors are:
Hormonal imbalance e.g. at the onset of puberty, pregnancy, menstruation.
Use of birth control medication
Greasy make up
Some kinds of medicine
How to Care for Your Skin
- Clean the skin gently using mild skin cleansers. Try not scrub the skin or over wash the affected area because the skin may become overly dry therefore making the glands produce even more oil.
- Try not to squeeze or pop the pimples. This is because firstly you may infect the skin because of dirt in the hands or on the surface of the skin. Secondly, this may lead to scarring.
- Try to shave only when you absolutely have to.
- If using makeup, try to use a non-greasy or oil free product.
As we have spoken about acne care, maybe now we should talk about some of the things that can make acne worse. These include: –
- The onset of menstruation period. This is because the hormone levels rise in the female body.
- Pollution and humidity.
- Washing the affected area overly much.
Over the counter treatments that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are usually very effective for the mildest types of acne.
Birth control pills may also help regulate the hormonal increase in the system.
If you find that you are breaking out way past your teenage years, you may want to check for other conditions in which acne now becomes a symptom. Irregular menstrual cycles, sudden weight gain, thinning of the hair in women may be the early warning signs of the disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS. One of the telltale signals may be the appearance of pimples on the cheeks, jaw, chin and the upper part of the neck.
Coping with Acne
Now that you’re more educated about acne. I feel that we should address the real elephant in the room. Self esteem
For years, we have been bombarded with the aesthetic of what beauty/perfection is. In every type of advert, we see, we notice that beauty is measured very strictly and perfect, unblemished skin is one of the yardsticks that speak loudest.
Since this is what we see all around us on a daily basis, we also start to think of ourselves as such. Sadly, since acne tends to occur during our teenage years, the years in which our sense of self-starts been determined by mostly our friends and relatives, we find that the imperfections of our skin carry us through to adulthood and in a way forms us.
Since the severe cases of acne also come with scars, most sufferers cannot help but judge themselves at the imperfection they have to face from day to day. This leads a person to lose their self-esteem as they seek any and every remedy that will restore their perfect skin and their self-worth.
Most acne sufferers grow a kind of shield around themselves to protect them and they shun most interactions especially with strangers who they believe judge them. This means that most people afflicted with acne tend to be loners, insecure, suffer from depression and anxiety which at times can be life threatening and refuse or are not willing to take on new responsibilities as most will fear the stigma.
The weird thing is that people may think that this reaction is only experienced by teens and 20 somethings. It isn’t, even adults will experience these emotions as well
The first thing we have to understand is that we are not to blame for this condition. This form of understanding may not be easy to come to, but we have to. Understand that we are more than our skin, more than imperfections, more than what or how people look at us.
We have to look past the acne and see ourselves. The true us who is bubbly, bright, vivacious, the teenage us, who just wanted to be accepted but wasn’t because they were not perfect.
In the end of the day, accepting self is going to be the most important thing that an acne sufferer can do. Love yourself at every stage of your condition, this self-love will be noticed by others and they too will also accept you.