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Acne - Rightangled

What is Acne?

Cause

The causes of acne are multifaceted and may include:
Excess Oil Production: Overproduction of sebum (skin oil) by the sebaceous glands can clog hair follicles.
Clogged Pores: When dead skin cells are not shed properly, they can mix with sebum and clog pores.
Bacterial Overgrowth: The presence of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria in hair follicles can lead to inflammation and the formation of acne lesions.
Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can influence acne development.
Diet and Lifestyle Factors: High-glycemic diets and certain lifestyle factors, like stress, can contribute to acne.
Genetic Predisposition: Family history of acne can increase one's susceptibility to the condition.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of acne is usually straightforward and often based on visual examination by a healthcare provider or dermatologist. Key aspects of diagnosis include:
Clinical Assessment: Healthcare providers assess the type and severity of acne lesions and inquire about medical history, lifestyle, and diet.
Physical Examination: Dermatologists may perform a physical examination to determine the extent and severity of the condition.
Skin Analysis: Advanced technologies like dermoscopy can be used to examine the skin and assess the presence of acne.
Rule Out Other Conditions: In some cases, skin conditions that mimic acne, such as folliculitis or rosacea, need to be ruled out.

Treatments

The management of acne involves various approaches depending on the type and severity of the condition:
Topical Treatments: Over-the-counter or prescription creams, gels, and lotions containing active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids can help clear acne lesions.
Oral Medications: For moderate to severe acne, oral antibiotics, oral contraceptives (for hormonal acne in women), or oral isotretinoin (a powerful retinoid) may be prescribed.
Procedural Treatments: Dermatologists may perform procedures such as chemical peels, laser therapy, or drainage and extraction of cysts or nodules for severe cases.
Skin Care Regimen: Establishing a consistent and gentle skincare routine is essential. Avoid harsh cleansers and abrasive scrubs, which can exacerbate acne.
Lifestyle Changes: Dietary modifications, stress management, and lifestyle changes can contribute to acne management.
Comedone Extraction: In some cases, a dermatologist may perform comedone extraction, a procedure to remove stubborn blackheads or whiteheads.

Prevention

Preventive measures can help minimize the risk of acne and manage its severity:
Cleanse and Exfoliate: Use a mild cleanser and gentle exfoliation to keep pores clear of excess oil and dead skin cells.
Avoid Harsh Products: Avoid abrasive or irritating skincare products that can worsen acne.
Dietary Choices: Maintain a balanced diet with whole foods, avoid excessive dairy and high-glycemic foods, and stay hydrated.
Stress Management: Incorporate stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, or mindfulness to manage stress, which can exacerbate acne.
Avoid Touching and Picking: Avoid touching or picking at acne lesions to prevent the spread of bacteria and scarring.

Further Info:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/acne/

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FAQs

Can my diet influence the development of acne, and are there specific foods to avoid to prevent breakouts?

While diet can play a role in acne development, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Some studies suggest that high-glycemic foods and dairy products may contribute to acne in some individuals. However, it varies from person to person. Maintaining a balanced diet with whole foods, staying hydrated, and avoiding excessive dairy and high-glycemic foods can be beneficial for skin health.

Is it safe to use over-the-counter acne products without a prescription, and what should I look for in these products?

Over-the-counter (OTC) acne products can be safe and effective for mild to moderate acne. Look for products containing active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or alpha hydroxy acids. These can help to unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and control excess oil production. It's important to follow the product instructions and consult a dermatologist if you have severe or persistent acne.

Does sunscreen play a role in preventing or exacerbating acne, and what should I consider when choosing a sunscreen for acne-prone skin?

Sunscreen is crucial for protecting the skin, but some sunscreens can clog pores and exacerbate acne. Look for non-comedogenic, oil-free, and water-based sunscreens that are designed for acne-prone skin. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher are recommended. It's essential to protect your skin from UV damage while also considering your skin type and needs.

Are there specific skincare routines or products that can help prevent acne, even if I don't currently have acne?

A consistent skincare routine is essential for preventing acne, especially if you have a history of breakouts. A gentle cleanser, exfoliation (with a product containing salicylic acid or alpha hydroxy acids), and a non-comedogenic moisturizer can help maintain clear skin. Avoid harsh products, excessive scrubbing, and picking at your skin, which can worsen acne.

Medically reviewed & approved

This page was medically reviewed by Dr Sohaib Imtiaz (clinical lead) |

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