What is the Right Way to Treat Acne?
Thanks to the immense strides that dermatologists have made in anti-acne medicine, we now have more than a dozen acne treatments and solutions. From simple home remedies right to the rarefied air of specialized in-house treatments, it is accurate to say that we are now spoilt for choice as far as dealing with skin problems go. But ironically, the more options we have, the more confusing finding the right acne treatment has become. And that's why it is crucial to have a clear understanding of how popular acne busters work before attempting to self-treat yourself. There are no shortcuts; this is the only way to find the right acne treatment for you.
How to Find the Right Acne Treatment for You
There's little doubt that understanding the acne treatment complex is key if you want flawless skin. And considering that acne is the most common skin ailment in the United States, it then goes without saying that the ideal acne treatment set has to encompass as many skin types as possible. And this includes,
- Lifestyle changes
- Home remedies
- Over the counter (OTC ) medicine
- Prescription strength medications
In fact, the best acne treatment set is one that seeks to address the deficiencies that are causing your skin to breakout. And speaking of deficiencies, this could be either a certain mineral or vitamin that is clearly lacking from your diet. Which, of course, leads us to the following section.
How to Treat Acne with Vitamins
You probably already know that minerals and vitamins can aid in the rebalancing of hormone levels. And roping in the fact that our ability to have and maintain clear skin is typically influenced by various hormones such as thyroid, cortisol and androgen, it is easy to see how vitamins are used to treat acne.
At this juncture, it's possible that you could be asking yourself questions like, "What vitamins do I need to treat acne?" Well then, worry no more. Here are the most popular acne-bursting minerals and vitamins that you need to be on the lookout for.
1. Vitamin A (Retinol)
There's a reason retinol (vitamin A) is hailed as one of the most important and significant skincare ingredients in the cosmetic world. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find another vitamin that is as highly regarded as retinol in dermatological circles. It is a position that it has earned by basically being an antioxidant that can fight free radicals and address inflammation. It's, therefore, no surprise that it is one of the main vitamins to treat acne. What's more, by fighting inflammation, vitamin A reduces skin cell damage which then translates to decreased premature aging and fewer wrinkles/fine lines.
However, the simple fact that vitamin A molecules naturally promote and support cell turnover is the reason retinol is considered a potent acne treatment product. By boosting cell turnover, the vitamin oversees efficient exfoliation and fast removal of dead skin thereby nipping breakouts at the bud. Speaking of which, topical treatments are preferred over their oral counterparts when it comes to treating acne with vitamin A.
To recap, you stand to gain the following by incorporating retinol into your acne-fighting arsenal
- Reduced skin and external tissue inflammation
- Smoother skin
- Even skin tone
- Increased healing pace of acne scars and lesions
- Better protection and shielding against environmental damage
- Decreased/controlled sebum production
Having that, topical retinoids (vitamin A-based gels/creams) can increase your skin's sensitivity to UV rays. You may want to apply them at night and slather on a reliable sunscreen the following day.
2. Vitamin D
Like Vitamin A above, vitamin D is among the best vitamins to treat acne that you can access readily. By boosting your immune system function and infusing its reliable antimicrobial properties into your skin's ecosystem, vitamin D can stop the progression of acne by inhibiting the activity of p.acnes bacteria. Moreover, it promotes and oversees quick wound healing, something that proves to be extremely crucial in combating acne lesions.
Zinc is one of the few essential minerals that is adept at controlling sebum production and, consequently, having a say in the frequency/severity of the breakouts. This explains why some of the best acne treatment pills have zinc as one the major active ingredients in their constituent formulation. Besides, by controlling the production/secretion of oil, it assists in inhibiting the growth of acne-precipitating bacteria and keeping your pores open.
Fortunately, the body ideally needs this mineral in very low quantities. Just supplementing your eating plan with a quality zinc-based supplement ought to be enough to keep the pimples at bay.
4. Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
It's virtually impossible for one to rely on vitamins to treat acne without including vitamin E at some point in the equation. You see, outside of retinol (which is in a league of its own), vitamin E is the next most potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory found in nature. But, unlike retinol. tocopherol is bereft of the undesirable side effects that make most people avoid vitamin A-based acne products. Actually, this is the right way to treat acne if you happen to have super sensitive skin that cannot tolerate the punitive downsides of using retinoids.
In addition to this, the unique fat-soluble properties of tocopherol allow for unhindered absorption into the dermis, which greatly reduces the lead time or waiting period for the acne to clear. As a bonus, vitamin E is believed to be effective at locking in moisture in the skin and promoting collagen and elastin production. And you guessed it, it 'plumps up' the skin, reduces the conspicuousness of fine lines and evens it out.
Tips on How to Choose the Right Way to Treat Acne
Combating acne effectively is a marathon and not a sprint. It wouldn't do you any good to get rid of pimples temporarily only to have another flare up within months, which could be aggravated by the going for the wrong acne treatment set in the first place. In general, the ideal way to treat acne ought to be tailored according to your skin type, severity of the breakouts and your individual skin care preferences. Here are some quick guidelines for using and choosing acne products to go toe-to-toe with acne.
1. Always Start with a Product that Contains Benzoyl Peroxide
You would want to give benzoyl peroxide a try if you are unsure on which OTC acne product to get. Not only is it effective at dealing with mild breakouts, but it is also well-tolerated by a large demographic of what would be acne sufferers. What's more, its wait time is just a few days (at most a week); you don't have to wait several months to tell whether or not the acne product works for you.
Unlike other acne-treatment ingredients, stronger is not always better with benzoyl peroxide, particularly if you want to avoid developing any potential side effects that could aggravate your symptoms. Go for products that contain no more than 2.5% of it in their formulations.
2. Begin with Low-Strength Acne-treatment Products
The general rule when it comes to using retinoids or retinol-based acne products is to start small but aim for consistency. While acne may be a powerful skincare ingredient, it is not necessarily well-tolerated by all skin types. It's advisable to increase your skin's tolerance threshold slowly, progressively and gradually by using it just once a week then bumping up the frequency as your tolerance improves.
3. For Stubborn Acne, Make use of Acne Products that Employ a Broad Range of Active Ingredients
Acne ingredients are individually adapted to different modes of action when it comes down to combating pimples and flare ups. As such, it may prove to be advantageous to adopt a product that employs several different active skin care ingredients than putting all your eggs in one basket, particularly if you have recurrent acne. Besides, varying products can be applied at different times of the day. You can, for instance, apply one that contains salicylic acid during the day and another one that utilises retinol at night.
Speaking of active ingredients, here are some of the common ones found in some of the best OTC acne-combating products that you should be on the lookout for;
- Salicylic acid: It's an ingredient that is adapted in preventing one's skin pores from getting blocked and clogged by debris, grime and sweat. By keeping your pores unblocked, it effectively eliminates the breeding ground of most acne-causing bacteria allowing your skin a chance to recover from the flare up.
- Benzoyl Peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide works by killing propionibacterium acnes - the bacteria that is responsible for your flare ups and breakouts. And if this is not enough to put the brakes on your worsening symptoms, it will work to remove the excess sebum that is giving the bacteria a favourable breeding habitat to multiply. It does not hurt that it is an excellent exfoliant too. Over the counter benzoyl peroxide-based products range in strengths starting from 1.5% to 10% formulation content. Unlike salicylic acid which is mild enough not to have strong side-effects, benzoyl peroxide is plagued by a slew of them such as scaling, redness, stinging and dry skin if you have super sensitive skin. That aside, it's no less an excellent skincare ingredient.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids: Lactic acid and glycolic acid are the two main AHAs you are likely to encounter in a majority of OTC and non-prescription pimple bursters. These AHAs, which are essentially synthetic versions of the organic acids found in natural-forming sugars, combat acne by decreasing inflammation and exfoliating the epidermis. In addition to this, they also contribute to the formation of smoother and pigmentation-free skin. Which, of course, translates to less visible acne scars and smaller pores.
- Sulfur: Sulfur deals with acne by overseeing the removal of dead skin cells that could be blocking your pores and precipitating a breakout. And although it may cause a bit of dry/flaky skin, it's often nothing that a hydrating complex cannot deal with. The best thing about sulfur is that it can be combined with other acne-fighting ingredients such as resorcinol, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid etc.
4. Give it Time
One of the biggest pitfalls of attempting to get rid of recurrent and stubborn acne on your own is that it is very easy to keep jumping from one treatment protocol to another without much success. Here's the thing; treating stubborn acne requires a lot of patience, commitment and hard work to keep up the recommended skincare regimen. It is not unheard of for some ingredients like retinol to take as many as six months before you start seeing any meaningful improvements in your symptoms.
5. A Change of Lifestyle Would Help Too
A change of lifestyle is often at times enough to treat acne or at least reduce the frequency/severity of the breakouts. It's not, after all, unheard of for factors such as poor skin hygiene and use of inappropriate cosmetic products aggravating or exacerbating one's symptoms. And as far this goes, it could capture any among the following stumbling blocks that could be keeping you away from flawless skin.
- Hygiene practices: Develop a habit of washing problematic skin at least twice a day with a gentle neutral cleanse and not regular soap. Avoid scrubbing and washing the skin excessively as this ordinarily does more harm than good. Speaking of which, towelettes and soft cleansing pads can be an superb alternative to the abrasive aluminium oxide and ground fruit pits scrubs.
- Moisturizing routine: As much as moisturizing is a recommended practice and even integral to your acne treatment efforts, there is also a good chance that you could be doing it the wrong way. Go for a water-based hydrating complexion rather than one that contains oil or extra fillers.
- Non-comedogenic products: Research shows that half of the time, the cosmetic products that we use on our skin are to blame for our acne woes. It's imperative to make sure that the sunscreen, hair sprays, lotions and moisturizers that you use on a regular basis are non-comedogenic to avoid shooting yourself in the foot every time you stand in front of your dressing table.
- Picking and squeezing pimples: While it may be tempting to burst whiteheads and zits as soon as they show up, you should be aware that this habit does nothing to help your acne situation. In fact, all it does is predispose you to recurrent skin infection and unsightly acne scars in the future.
As you can see, the right way to treat acne does not have to be expensive, complicated or lengthy. Still, it is important to consult your physician or dermatologists if your acne symptoms do not improve within six months of starting an OTC or non-prescription treatment regimen. All in all, a few lifestyle changes coupled by some handy home remedies ought to be enough to clear mild breakouts within no time.