Along with wrinkles, acne is one of the medical conditions that encourages the greatest number of extremely expensive but often only vaguely efficacious acne treatments. There are plenty of advertisements that will tell you exactly how beautiful a product will make your skin look … unfortunately there is always a little disclaimer hidden somewhere on the packet which states ‘Results not typical’. Many people find that they fall into the ‘typical’ group – the one where a product creates a mild improvement but doesn’t really attack the root of the problem.
Today we are looking at the acne treatments that are clinically proven to be efficacious for a significant percentage of people. You may have to try several acne treatments before you find the one that helps remedy the cause of acne in your particular case – today we give you a wide range of starting points, no matter what you skin type.
Topical retinoids use vitamin A to increase the natural turnover rate of the skin, providing fewer places for P. acnes to start its inflammatory colonies. They can irritate the skin in the initial days and weeks, and use of sunscreen is essential, as they sensitize the skin to the sun.
Benzoyl peroxide is a direct antimicrobial acne treatment, and also helps increase skin turnover rate to prevent blockages. Higher concentrations are usually used for more severe cases of acne, but it can cause drying of the skin and sometimes allergies. It is not a long-term treatment – the skin eventually adjusts to the cream increasing its turnover rate, and increases its natural rate of cell production. This can lead to a ‘hangover’ effect when you stop using benzoyl peroxide – your skin is accustomed to producing larger numbers of new cells than necessary, and will quickly create so many that new blockages occur.
Oral antibiotics work by killing off the natural population of P.acnes that lives in the skin. They can interfere with hormonal contraceptives and sometimes cause stomach upsets, but are efficacious for a great many people.
This acne treatment is used only for the most severe forms, as the side effects are definitely not pleasant! Your moods might be affected, and sometimes liver function decreases. Many people get dry eyes, lips and skin, and some experience hair loss. The course lasts six months, and once started, it should not be stopped, and missing a tablet can cause even worse side effects. It is the ‘gold standard’ in getting rid of acne – but you must be dedicated to use it.
Cosmetic clinic treatments
You’ll need to consult with an aesthetician, though will not need a doctor’s prescription, to undergo laser acne treatment. There are several different types of lasers used for acne treatment, including pulsed dye, photodynamic and diode. The laser targets bacterial activity in the sebaceous glands themselves and is thus very effective on active acne. The laser currently in the spotlight as being the gold standard for acne treatment is the Candela Smoothbeam.
Laser therapy can also treat acne scars – the results occur because the laser promotes the growth of collagen under large indented scars, filling them from the inside.
The sun’s ultra-violet rays are anti-bacterial – they help kill any P. acnes living on the surface of your skin. Unfortunately those same ultra-violet rays can damage your DNA and cause skin cancer, so make sure you don’t get more than ten minutes of direct sun per day.
Exercise is good for every single bit of your body, and your skin is no exception. Sweating whilst exercising, and carrying a towel to wipe it off immediately, helps flush dirt and impurities out of your pores. The salt in your sweat is a mild disinfectant and the increased peripheral blood flow helps bring germ-fighting white blood cells to the surface of your skin, ensuring your peripheral tissues have access to enough nutrients, etc. Many people find that exercise (to the point of sweating) makes a very effective acne treatment.
You may have to try several different acne treatments, and may eventually settle on a combination of different treatments or even a cycle, where you use one product for a time, and then another. Acne is a very personally variable condition with a range of causes – but with professional help, everybody can take great steps towards being clean and clear!