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Acne Triggers and Treatments (Acne)
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Acne Triggers and Treatments

Jerry K. L. Tan, MD, FRCPC

Almost all women are affected by acne at some point their lives, although severity varies widely from the occasional pimple to breakouts. Acne is most common during the preteen and teen years, but can also affect adults, and can persist for years. Acne can be especially frustrating for women due to the proliferation of stereotypes about acne being associated with teenage boys. However, there are many effective treatments that are available for acne.

The skin is full of oil glands that produce sebum, which moisturizes and enhances the skin’s protective abilities. The highest density of oil glands are found on the face, especially the forehead, and nose, which forms the T-zone. The largest glands are also found on the chest and back area, which is why acne appears in these areas most commonly.

Although the exact cause of acne is still unknown, we do know that hormones play a large role in pore blockage and increased oil production. These blockages later form blemishes called blackheads and whiteheads. When acne progresses, acne bacteria multiply within the blocked pore, causing inflammation and bumps called zits. These can form nodules, or large bumps if the smaller sacs of oil rupture. Certain skin types are more prone to acne, and these are largely inherited.

The first and most important step to treating acne is prevention. For some people, there can be triggers that cause or worsen acne. Although diet is generally unrelated to acne, some people may notice that certain foods aggravate their skin, and these foods should be avoided. More common triggers include thick creams that may block the pores, or clothing that retain sweat and moisture. Hair gels and sprays may aggravate your condition if it touches the skin, and long hair which brushes against acne prone areas of the skin may also affect your acne. Knowing what triggers acne, and avoiding it as best as possible is your first step to treatment. This simple step can do wonders for controlling acne.

Proactive treatments include the use of cleansers, topical gels, and creams for mild acne, or antibiotics and hormonal pills for more severe cases. Accutaneä may be prescribed for severe cases. Facials or exfoliation creams can treat acne staining. For more severe cases, fillers, dermabrasion of laser treatment may be required. As with all treatments, full compliance with the program is critical to a successful treatment.

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acne,   prevention,