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If you suffer from acne you’ll know how distressing this condition can be. About 35% of men will suffer with acne during their teenage years. The symptoms usually start in puberty and last until the hormone activity settles down in the late teens or early twenties. However severe cases of acne can continue well into adulthood leaving scars both physical and emotional. There’s also some evidence to suggest that adult acne is on the increase.
Mild acne is characterised by blackheads, spots and pimples whilst the more severe form (Acne Vulgaris) also has painful, blind cysts, inflammation and infection. Severe acne can appear very red and sore and should always be referred to a doctor.
Acne begins with excess oil (sebum) production. This is directly caused by hormone over-activity. Skin cells normally shed themselves naturally about every 28 days. In acne prone skin however the skin shedding happens faster and the dead cells can get stuck in the follicle opening (keratinisation) causing blockages, which in turn cause plugs of hardened sebum (blackheads). Sebum is produced to protect the skin and keep it supple, but when there is too much the skin becomes excessively oily and the pores block. The presence of bacteria then produces pus which turns the blackheads into whiteheads. In severe cases cysts and painful swellings can then develop. The cysts can rupture and cause scars and a pitting of the skin. Try Murad Pore Reform Blackhead and Pore Clearing Duo.
All cases of severe acne should always be referred to your GP who will probably prescribe antibiotics and possibly some hormone or topical treatments. If the acne is severe you may be referred to a dermatologist.
The skin must be kept clean and the excess oil controlled. You will need to wash your face twice a day with something like Menscience Advanced Acne Facial Pads, or cleansing bar that is not too harsh. Always rinse off with running water and blot dry with a clean towel.
You may benefit from using a gentle facial scrub once or twice a week but not if there is infection present. This will help to remove dead cells and prevent the pores from blocking so readily.
A mask used once a week can be very beneficial too as it helps to deep clean and absorb excess impurities and oil. clay mask will absorb excess oil very efficiently but avoid using it on very sensitive areas. Leave on for no more than 10 minutes and rinse off with running water.
You may still find your skin needs to be moisturised as it can lack water even though it’s oily. There are products available that will help regulate the sebum production and keep the skin matt whilst hydrating the surface.
Squeezing whiteheads isn’t a good idea as this releases bacteria onto the skin and can spread the problem wider. If you really must, then always steam your face first over some warm water to soften the blockages and then use a tissue to gently ease them out. Don’t use excess pressure and make sure your hands are really clean. Use some antiseptic cream on the area afterwards to reduce bacteria and help the healing process.
You may want to try some herbal supplements that are designed to re-balance the system and help to control acne internally. It’s also worth taking Zinc and Vitamin C. Some people find it helpful to avoid dairy products and/or wheat. Generally try to watch your diet and eat plenty of vitamin-rich foods, drink plenty of water and avoid too much alcohol and stimulants such as tea and coffee.
With careful management and a good skin care routine mild acne can be successfully managed but if you are really suffering make sure you see your doctor.
If you also struggle with blackheads as well as handling acne, check out our banishing blackheads style guide!
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