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Keeping Acne Under the Radar: A Guide to Acne Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Jun 27, 2008
Almost everyone experiences acne at some point in his or her life. Although there is no exact cause, cure or prevention, there are plenty of resources available for people to be able to choose the best treatment and prevention for themselves.

What exactly is acne?

Acne vlugaris, known by most as just plain acne, is a skin disease that happens when follicles, or pores, become blocked with oil. This causes bacteria to grow, and can result in what everyone calls zits or pimples.

According to acne.org, there are two main types of acne: Inflammatory and non-inflammatory. Non-inflammatory acne is usually in the form of whiteheads and blackheads. Inflammatory acne is more visible, and is the type of acne referred to as zits or pimples.

Acne usually occurs on the face, but can also affect other areas of the body such as the shoulders, back and chest.

What causes acne?

There is no exact cause of acne. There are many different factors that can cause acne, although it is not known why some people experience more acne than others.

One factor in causing acne is overactive oil glands, or sebaceous glands, which are located beneath the skin surface. Sebaceous glands produce oil when stimulated by hormones. This is one of the reasons why teenagers are more susceptible to acne: their hormone activity is high during this stage of life.

Other causes of acne include genetics, stress, the use of anabolic steroids and certain medications.

How is acne treated?

There are many products and medications available for the treatment and prevention of acne. Some common treatments are topical, antibiotics and hormonal. The best treatment is usually a combination of different types of treatment.

Over-the-counter topical treatment can work well for mild acne. Some topical products fight acne by drying up oil, killing bacteria, and getting rid of dead skin cells. Stronger topical treatments are available by prescription, which work by aiding in cell turnover or preventing hair follicles from plugging.

Antibiotics can be used to treat acne by killing bacteria and fighting the inflammation, but the results can take months.

Females with acne can sometimes benefit from hormonal prescriptions. Oral contraceptives containing estrogen and progestogen have been known to clear up acne.

Cortisone is another hormonal method, which can be used to treat severe acne. If a zit is large and does not respond to other treatments, a shot can be injected into the affected area. The results are usually immediate.

Can acne be prevented?

Just like there is no exact cure, there is not surefire way to prevent acne. However, there are certain things that people can do to aid in prevention.

Because acne is caused by oil clogging the pores, there are a few ways to reduce the amount of oil on the skin.

These methods include using an astringent to remove oil, applying oil-free moisturizers to the skin and washing your face daily with sulfur-based soap. Also, it is advisable to avoid oil based skin products and oil based makeup.

Certain vitamins, such as Vitamin A, can also prevent acne and reduce oil production on the skin.

Also, just taking care of your body can help prevent acne. Exercising regularly to rid the body of toxins, drinking eight glasses of water daily, taking a multi-vitamin and practicing proper hygiene can all contribute to the prevention of acne.

People can keep acne under control by being aware of the causes and treatment methods of acne, combined with doing what they can to prevent it. There are countless resources, treatment and prevention methods out there, and finding the right combination is the key to stopping acne.
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