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Expert Advice | What is acne?

Acne is one of the most common skin problems in the world.

Although acne is generally associated with teenagers and puberty, the fact is that you can get spots at ant age or stage in your life. What can you do about them?

Excessive Sebum Production

Spots are the result of several factors within skin. Over- proliferation of specific bacteria. Propionibacterium ( also known as cultibacterium_ within the pores triggers inflammation. The bacteria “feeds” on sebum, causing further inflammation and backing up the pore lining. The accumulation of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface and inside the pore prevents the sebum from being secreted freely from the skin, causing clogged pores, while the inflammation leads to acne spots.  ( Source: Paula’s Choice)

Forms of Acne

Acne can occur on various body parts, including the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and arms. Although most people associate acne with typical teenagers spots, it comes in various forms.

  • Comedomes. With this type of acne, you mainly see comedomes. Comedomes are the non-infected version ( or the initial stages) of spots. Closed comedomes on the skin’s surgace are small, white spots under the skin also called whiteheads. If they are open, oxygen oxidises the blockage in the pore opening resulting in black colouration: this is called a blackhead. In other words, the dark spot is not dirt under the skin’s surface.
  • Papule. These are red spots ( without a white head of pus) that indicates inflammation.
  • Pimples. Larger than papules; red, sensitive spots with a white head of pus. These indicate a more advanced, deeper infection.
  • Nodules. One of the most painful forms of acne; large solid papules under the skin. They arise when there is too much pressure on the wall of the pre and the infection breaks through to the second layer of skin around the pore.
  • Cysts. Painful, pus- filled cavities that form under the skin’s surface and entail a greater risk of scarring than other types of ace due to their depth.

(Source: Paula’s Choice)

Step-By-Step Treatment of An Acne Prone Skin

Step 1: use a mild cleanser. It is essential to wash your face twice a day with a mild, water soluble cleanser to prevent redness, help the skin heal and reduce sebum production. Always avoid using bars of soap or aggressive cleansers as they dry out the skin too much and can block the pores. Avoid using coarse scrubs also as can cause irritation to the skin and make the problem worse. You can’t scrub away spots and blackheads. I would recommend using the Algologie mattifying range if you have young or sensitive skin. If you have more nodules and cystic acne I would recommend something a little stronger for example Environ Sebulac Cleanser or Mesoestetic purifying mousse cleanser.

Step 2: use an exfoliant with salicylic acid (BHA) to remove the dead skin cells and stimulate healthy cells rejuvenation, both on the surface of the skin and in the pres. BHA also helps with the redness and inflammation and tackles the bacteria that causes spots. I would recommend Environ Sebulac oil and Environ Sebulac Lotion or alternatively Mesoestetic acne one lotion.

Step 3: Fight the bacteria (p:acnes) that cause spots with benzoyl peroxide. Solutions are available in the concentration of 2.5 to 10 percent and you can buy them over the counter at the pharmacy or chemist. It is best to start with a lower concentration. A product containing 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide irritates the skin less than a solution of 5 or 10%  and may be just as effective.  Alternatively speak with your trusted aesethic practitioner about chemical peels as azelaic acid can be very effective.

Step 4: Protect your skin from sun damage. The skin cannot heal spots if it is also fighting sun damage. A good sunscreen with SPF of at least 30 will help sports to heal more quickly and protect the skin from further damage. I would recommend Heliocare SPF gel cream as it is great for acne prone skin as does not clog the pores.

Step 5: absorb excessive sebum by using a sebum-absorbing clay face mask regularly. Do not use products that are too emollient as they can block the pores even more. I recommend algologie clay mask as it is very natural and does not irritate the skin or dry the skin too much.

It is essential that your skincare products do not contain irritating substances such as camphor or alcohol. They are very common in sebum-absorbing products for spots. In my experience they only make the problem worse or cause a dry, flakey and red skin.

If you do not see a significant improvement after consistently following these steps for at least four weeks you might decide to talk to your doctor about a medical treatment for spots. The options are topical products containing retinol (vitamin a) or an antibiotic with benzoyl peroxide.

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