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The Acne Fact Sheet

Blemishes. Zits. Pimples. Bumps.

No matter what you call it, nearly everyone has had to deal with acne breakouts at least one time in their life. For some women, dealing with acne is a daily struggle; however, even if you only have to deal with the occasional eruption, acne can be a painful experience.

Many different factors are considered by researchers to be the cause of acne, but a specific cause is still unknown. Factors such as increased hormones, heredity and even the use of some medications have all been attributed to triggering breakouts. In the case of women, it is often the changing levels of hormones in the 2 to 7 days prior to the beginning of a menstrual period that will trigger or worsen an acne flare-up. This combined with skin irritation (caused by rubbing, squeezing or picking at blemishes), pressure from tight clothing (in the case of body acne), pollution, and hard scrubbing can cause acne to worsen.

While dermatologists generally treat moderate to severe cases of acne, it is possible to treat a mild acne flare-up at home. Over the counter treatments that contain such compounds as benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid and sulfur are often used to treat acne, but each works a little differently. When using over the counter acne treatments, always be aware of possible side effects such as skin irritation, burning or redness, which may lessen with continued use of the product. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult your dermatologist. You may need to consult a dermatologist to see which treatment type is best for your skin type, acne type and cycle of breakouts. Your doctor may also recommend a prescription medication to help control breakouts. This group of treatments include antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin, adapalene and azelaic acid. With all treatments, either over the counter or prescription, products may have to be used for 8 weeks or more before results are visible.

For women, a dermatologist may be able to determine whether acne is related to environment (factors such as pollution and skin irritation) or normal hormonal fluctuation. Medications such as low-dose birth control pills, corticosteroid drugs, and antiandrogen drugs may help control hormone-related acne flare-ups. The use of these types of drugs must be considered carefully, as side effects may vary greatly from person to person and sometimes include irregular menstruation, tender breasts, headache and fatigue.

The first step in any acne treatment should be prevention. By adopting a daily cleansing routine, acne breakouts can be greatly reduced. All skin types can follow these simple steps to help stop acne before it starts:

  1. AcneClean Skin Gently. Using a mild cleanser twice a day and after strenuous exercise to gently clean the skin can help to reduce the chance of an acne flare-up. Using strong detergents or rough scrubbing pads may seem like the correct way to get a thorough cleaning, but these types of cleansers may actually worsen a breakout. Clean the face from under the jaw line to the hairline; use astringent only if the skin is excessively oily, and only on oily patches.

  2. Avoid Touching the Skin. Squeezing or picking at acne blemishes raises the risk of developing scars or skin discoloration.

  3. Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure. Women have long believed that allowing acne to “get some sun” can help in the healing process by drying out excess oil near the lesion. These benefits are only temporary, and medications to help with acne breakouts often react badly to sun exposure, making the skin more likely to burn.

  4. Choose Cosmetics Wisely. Cosmetics that are noncomedogenic may help in preventing acne flare-ups, and all cosmetic products (including moisturizers, eye shadows and blushes) should be oil-free to help stop acne before it starts.

Treating acne breakouts can range from quick fixes to long-term regimens for skin care set by a dermatologist. With good skin care, acne can be controlled or prevented. Finding the right acne treatment may take time, as women have varying skin types and sensitivities; but with proper skin care and proper treatment of acne, every woman can have beautiful, glowing skin.


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