All About Acne

Acne has some kind of magical power that means they always pop-out before a major event we are about to attend. We all have stories when we had them uninvited just before our wedding day, birthday party or even worse before a romantic date.

Well, these breakouts are hard on everyone that is why we have spoken to the experts to tell us more about them and tell us how can we treat them and avoid them.

What Is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. It often causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples, and usually appear on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders. Acne is most common among teenagers, though it affects people of all ages. “Acne is one of the most visible ways that stress often manifests itself. Although stress doesn’t directly cause acne or breakout, it does act as a trigger for the factors that contribute to the development of a breakout. This happens due to stress causing higher levels of cortisol hormone that can increase inflammation and sebum production in the skin. Sebum production increases secretion of additional oils and inflammation which will clog the pores and lead to the development of bacteria and further inflammation. The mental well-being is often reflected first on the skin”, says Dr Amany A. Morshed, MBBS, Masters in Dermatology and Venereology, Specialist Cosmetic Dermatologist at Aster Clinic, Arabian Ranches and Aster Beauty Clinic, Al Warqa

What Are Different Types Of Acne?

Acne causes oily skin and sometimes skin that's hot or painful to touch. In general, there are 6 main types of spot caused by acne, which according to Dr Lola Ali Muhammad, of Rebecca Treston Aesthetics at Euromed Clinic Dubai are:
Blackheads - small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin; they are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces pigmentation (colouring)

Whiteheads - have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer
Papules - small red bumps that may feel tender
Pustules - similar to papules, but have a white tip in the centre, caused by a build-up of pus
Nodules - large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin
Cysts - large pus-filled lumps that can cause scarring

What Causes Acne?

The science behind acne blames hormonal imbalances and a poor diet as the major causes of acne.

“There are many theories on what are causes for acne, definitely hormones and nutrition play an important role that is why acne mostly starts with teenage years, and also some hormonal imbalances like PCOS manifest with acne”, Dr Maria Ridao Alonso, Medical Director at Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre.

Acne has four factors:

  1. Follicular epidermal hyperproliferation with subsequent plugging of the follicle
  2. Excess sebum production, 
  3. The presence and activity of the commensal bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes)
  4. Inflammation.  In addition, genetics is also a key factor", says Dr Roula Amer, Consultant Dermatologist at American Hospital Dubai.

What Treatments And Over-The-Counter Products Are Available To Treat Acne?

Acne generally should be treated from the inside first as they are majorly caused by hormonal imbalances and malnutrition or by food intolerances. However, there are many over-the-counter (OTC) products available in the market to treat them externally. Nonetheless, it is advisable to visit a dermatologist to know what suits your skin the most.

“Several OTC products for treating acne are available to buy but I always recommend getting a skincare specialist to recommend which product/treatment is best for you. In general, products containing a low concentration of benzoyl peroxide may alleviate the symptoms. If your acne is severe or appears on your chest and back, it may need to be treated with antibiotics or stronger creams that are only available on prescription”, suggests says Dr Lola Ali Muhammad of Euromed Clinic Dubai.

“The treatment depends on the type and intensity of acne. The single most important topical medications used to treat acne are retinoids (which we can take over-the-counter) as like adapalene (Differin), tretinoin (Retin-A) to prevent comedone formation. Other topical treatment includes Benzoyl peroxide (BPo), topical antibiotics (clindamycin, erythromycin), alpha-hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, and azelaic acid (which we can take over-the-counter) to treat papular and pustular acne”, advises Dr Majd AlZoughbi, Specialist Dermatologist, Aesthetica Clinic, Dubai.

How Can You Look After Your Skin At Home?

  • Try to resist the temptation to pick or squeeze the spots, as this can lead to permanent scarring.
  • Clean and hydrate the skin twice a day. Do not wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
  • Dry your face with a cotton towel and apply the right moisturiser.
  • Wash the affected area with the prescribed skincare cleanser (your skincare specialist can guide you) and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
  • Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics and choose water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic.
  • Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.
  • Tea tree oil can reduce inflammation applied on spots, same as oregano oil.
  • Crèmes based on zinc also can help reduce inflammation.
  • Avoid eating food rich in refined carbohydrates, fast food, dairy products and chocolate as these foods worsen acne.

"Pore cleaning strips or pads might be tried two times weekly to remove dirt, oil and plugs from pores and avoid picking or squeezing the acne lesions or even touching the face with dirty hands or phones to avoid infection and scarring", suggests Dr Roula Amer of American Hospital Dubai.

DIY Home-Made Masks To Treat Acnes

Honey Mask
Honey is a natural antiseptic that can help fight the bacteria that leads to acne breakouts. Its gentle nature means that it cleans effectively, without irritating the skin with any harsh acidic properties. Open up your pores with warm water then apply pure honey to your skin. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes then rinse off with warm water, then close your pores with a splash of cold water.

Oatmeal Mask
Oatmeal has wonderful exfoliating properties which can remove dead skin cells that give your skin a flaky texture. Mix 2 teaspoons of oatmeal, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a few drops of water to create a paste-like texture. Gently rub the paste in circular motions onto your face. As the mask begins to harden, rinse it off with warm water and apply a moisturiser.

Apple Cider Vinegar Mask 
Apple cider vinegar helps to maintain the pH balance of the skin, which, during an acne breakout, tends to go off balance. Combine 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar with 2 teaspoons of green tea (to soothe) 5 teaspoons of sugar (to exfoliate) and 1 teaspoon of honey. Apply the mask to your face and massage gently. Leave it for 10 minutes then rinse with warm water.

Turmeric And Milk Mask 
Turmeric is a natural antibacterial, as well as a terrific source of antioxidants. Milk is a natural, gentle cleanser that is actually used in a lot of cosmetics. Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder to 2 teaspoons of raw milk and stir them into a paste. Apply the paste to your face and leave it for up to 10 minutes before rinsing. Turmeric tends to stain so don’t worry if you’re looking a little yellow, it will come off after another wash!

Overall, acne treatments may vary from person to person, but small change in lifestyle can save you from getting ‘spotted’.

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