Simple steps to tackle acne

Are you suffering from low self-confidence because of acne? Have you been avoiding social gatherings due to those troublesome zits? Do not worry. You are not the only one having to go through this humiliating and embarrassing phase. Acne is a common skin condition and there are millions of people affected by it.

What is acne?

Acne is a common skin condition which occurs due to inflammation or infection of the sebaceous glands in the skin. The condition is characterised by pimples, black heads and white heads. Acne is mostly seen on the face, neck, back or upper arms of a person.

Acne mostly affects preteens and teens and is seen among both boys and girls.

What are acne scars?

Once your acne has healed, you will notice a red mark on your skin which looks like a scar but is actually a post-inflammatory change.  Mostly, the redness is part of the healing process and will disappear in 6 to 12 months without a sign. However, if acne lesions develop repeatedly in the same area, then the healing takes place abnormally leaving behind a permanent scar.

*Ice pick scars are sharp, narrow and go deep into the subcutaneous layer. In this case, the skin looks like it has been picked with an ice pick and hence the name.

*Boxcar scars leave a deep angular dent in your skin which is quite similar to chickenpox scars. These scars mostly appear when your skin is destroyed due to seriously inflamed acne.

*Rolling scars occur when the bands of tissue developed between the skin’s surface and deeper structures begin to pull at the skin, giving the skin a rolling, ‘wavy’ appearance. These scars look like pits or depressions on your skin.

Treatment of acne

There are many self-help tips that you can follow to control acne and prevent scarring.
nFirst of all, keep your hands off your face when you see a pimple. A few moderations to your lifestyle will go a long way in keeping the unwanted pimples at bay. Eat a balanced, healthy meal, sleep well and drink lots of water.

*The next step would be to keep your face as clean and oil free as possible. Use a cleanser to wash your face at least twice a day. This will reduce the irritation and sensitivity of the skin.

*Exfoliation is a good way to open the pores without being harsh on your skin. There are several mild exfoliating scrubs available in the market which will gently remove the outer layer of your skin allowing your pores to breath.

*Use a good quality astringent to wipe away oil from your face. Though you cannot stop your oil glands from producing oil, you can try and get rid of it as much as possible.

Tips to prevent acne

Clean face: Whether you have acne or not, it is important to keep your face clean. Washing your face removes not just dirt, but also dead skin cells, oil and other impurities. Always use warm water and a mild face wash. A body/deodorant soap may irritate your skin and if your skin is already inflamed, it is sure to get worse.

Use moisturiser: Your face tends to become dry once you’ve washed it. Always use a moisturiser as this minimises the peeling of skin and dryness.

Beware of hair products: Using hair sprays, gels and fragrances or harsh chemicals on your hair will multiply the occurrence of acne on your face, as these ingredients may drip on your face, blocking the pores. If you have oily hair, wash it as often as possible, especially if you are prone to acne and if you have long hair, keep it out of your face.

Cosmetics: Use of cosmetics such as foundation, powder or blush should be avoided during a pimple breakout. If you absolutely have to wear it every day, then opt for oil-free cosmetics which come without added chemicals.

Hands off your face: Try and keep your hands off your face. By touching the pimple or popping it, you are just irritating the already inflamed skin, which will result in some more infection. This also means that you will end up with a scar on your face for four weeks instead of just five days.


(The writer is a consultant at Dr Health Clinics, Bangalore.)

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