Acne: Causes, Treatment, Remedies


In today's modern lifestyle, acne has become a prevalent skin condition. It occurs as pimples on the face, forehead, chest, shoulders, and upper back, from clogged pores when hair follicles get blocked with oil and dead skin cells. While acne is common, its intensity varies among individuals. Although most common among teenagers, it can affect people of all ages. This article will delve into the causes, types, treatments, and other aspects of acne.

What Causes Acne 

Acne occurs when your skin's tiny tubes holding your hair, called hair follicles, get blocked. This blockage is caused by too much oil (sebum), bacteria, and dead skin cells. These follicles have glands that release these substances. Although it's mostly about having too much oil, bacteria, and dead skin on your face, certain things can trigger these issues in the first place.

Adding to this, Dr. Fariha Anwar, an Aesthetics Doctor at Euromed Clinic Dubai says, "In terms of food, you should avoid certain carbohydrates and dairy as both cause an increase in hormones that can trigger excess sebum production. Instead, choose to consume omega-3 fatty acids that can help fight inflammation and are rich in zinc - an anti-inflammatory that not only reduces levels of the bacteria that causes acne (Cutibacterium acnes) but decreases oil production. In terms of skincare, choose products that are 'non-comedogenic' as these do not clog the pores."

What Triggers Acne

Acne occurs when hair follicles and sebum get clogged in your skin. But certain things trigger it in the first place causing acne to act up in your body. 

  1. Wearing tight clothes, hats, or sports helmets.
  2. Air pollution and humid weather.
  3. Using oily or greasy products.
  4. Stress (which makes a hormone called cortisol). 
  5. Some medications containing corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium
  6. Poor sleep, high sugar diet, smoking, 
  7. Picking at your acne can make it worse.

Types Of Acne 

Acne might seem common, but the kinds vary. Some are mild, while others are severe and can leave marks on your face. Some types of acne are as follows: 

- Fungal Acne: This occurs due to yeast accumulation in hair follicles, causing itchiness and inflammation.

- Cystic Acne: It involves deep, pus-filled pimples and nodules that may lead to scarring.

- Hormonal Acne: Adults experience hormonal acne due to excess sebum, which blocks their pores.

- Nodular Acne: As per Dr Ruhil Badiani, Family Physician, Cornerstone,  this type of acne is large, painful, solid lesions lodged deep within the skin. They can be quite stubborn and take a long time to heal.

Cysts: Deep, painful, pus-filled lesions that can cause scarring. They are the most severe type of acne and often require medical attention.

When To Consult A Dermatologist For Acne 

If your skin doesn't feel good, and you've been stressed, have a family history of acne, follow an unhealthy lifestyle, or take medications, and you see boils and pimples on your face, you must visit your skin doctor (dermatologist). They'll check your skin, understand the type of acne, look closely at the symptoms, and recommend the right treatment for you.

Moreover, if you're aware that you have acne and it's getting worse, don't postpone seeing the dermatologist. Commenting on this, Dr. Fariha Anwar, Euromed Clinic Dubai, says, "If you have severe acne, or the prescription medicines are not working, you should book a consultation with an expert in treating skin conditions. This may be needed if you have cystic acne (a large number of papules and pustules), the acne has spread to your chest and back, the acne has started to become painful or if the acne is negatively impacting your mental health." 

Type Of Treatment Needed

Explaining more about the skin type and treatment, Dr. Ruhil Badiani, Cornerstone Clinic, adds, "Tailoring acne treatment for a specific skin type is crucial for effective treatment."  

Based on your skin type, Dr. Ruhil Badiani, Cornerstone Clinic, also suggests a few more things: 

  • Oily skin will need non-comedogenic products that do not block the pores, and products that contact salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are often useful as they can control the oil. 
  • Dry skin will need a more moisturising treatment to prevent stripping the natural oils. 
  • Combination skin will benefit from products that will balance hydration without clogging pores. 
  • Sensitive skin will need mild and soothing products. This skin type may also need testing before applying on the face to ensure that there are no reactions. 
  • Normal skin has the most flexibility in product choice.  

Individual responses to products can vary, so it may take some experimentation to find out what is the best. 

Misconceptions About Acne 

Acne is caused due to several factors and symptoms; however, certain misconceptions about acne need to be debunked.

Adding to this, Dr. Fariha Anwar, Euromed Clinic Dubai, says, "People often use harsh scrub or chemicals to deal with acne and oily ski; however, what they don't realise is that these chemicals strip the skin of moisture and/or oil. It can compromise the skin’s barrier function and irritate it. In fact,  whenever you irritate your skin, you risk getting more acne." 

Debunking some myths about acne, and its causes, Dr. Ruhil Badiani, Cornerstone Clinic, adds, "First and foremost, acne is not caused by dirt; in fact, excessive scrubbing or using harsh cleansers will worsen acne. Acne is caused by oil production, and bacterial and skin cell turnover. Besides this, a lot of people think that using more products will help with acne treatment, but this is not true, sometimes more products can irritate the skin further and cause worsening of the condition. My advice to all my patients is to keep products simple and easy to use. Consistency is the key, and choosing the right products for your skin type."

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