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ACNE: THE CONFIDENCE BREAKER

Amy has dealt with breakouts of acne for over a decade. The first outbreak arrived with puberty and ruined her social life. Amy got bullied through high school because of her non-stop breakouts, and was called ‘the barnacle lady’ as she had a bumpy skin, apart from her reddish appearance.

She tried a lot of home remedies, but they never seemed to work. In her desperation, she resorted to faceless skincare products, which ultimately gave her an irregular skin tone, with her face appearing way lighter than the rest of her body.

Her relatives assured her it was going to get better as she aged, but here she was at age 27, still with her breakouts. For the past nine years, she has had to mask up the irregularities with layers of makeup.

Kevin, on the other hand, hasn’t been as lucky as Amy since he couldn’t depend on makeup to hide his breakouts. Therefore, he resorted to bangs to hide the ones on his forehead, at least.

What is Acne?

It is a long-term skin condition, and it occurs when hair follicles get blocked by dead skin cells and sebum (oil from the skin). Normally, these dead skin cells ought to be shed off, but in an individual with acne, they clog the skin pores, hence leading to breakouts.

Acne doesn’t affect only the face, but also other areas of the body that have a relatively high number of oil glands. These include the upper part of the chest and back.

The appearance of someone with acne can result in such a person having anxiety, low self-esteem, little or no confidence, and in worst scenarios, depression or suicidal thoughts.

For Amy and Kevin, they cannot let go of their forced style, even if the bangs and makeup do more harm than good. Over the years, they’ve had their share of bullying, low self-esteem, breakups, and even depression because of ever-sprouting breakouts.

Typical features of Acne

The appearance of acne varies from race to race. While a white individual with acne appears to have a pinkish hue, a black person might present with hyperpigmentation (that is, darkening of the skin in the affected area). Blackheads or whiteheads and pimples are also typical features to look out for.

  • Blackheads refer to a clogged hair follicle (pore) that is not covered by skin
  • Whiteheads occur when the clogged hair follicle gets closed by the skin
  • Pimples occur when the clogged hair follicle has excess sebum and dead skin cells.

While blackheads and whiteheads occur in people with or without acne, pimples occur in people who have acne alone.

Causes of Acne

1. Genes: There is a high chance of getting acne through inheritance.

2. Hormones: Like for Amy and Kevin, hormonal activity, which occurs during puberty does contribute to the formation of acne. The male hormones (androgens) have a large part to play in this formation.

Other factors that contribute to acne include: diet and infection.

Treating Acne

Many treatments exist for acne, depending on factors like gender, severity of the acne, and presence of a pregnancy. Some of the treatments include:

1. Making use of retinoids or Vitamin A derivatives. Retinoids treat acne by unclogging pores. The unclogging ensures the skin absorbs any medicated cream or gel with ease.

However, retinoids are not recommended for pregnant and nursing women. The side effects of this treatment may include itchiness, dryness, and redness.

2. Antibiotics can be used either orally (through the mouth) or on the skin. They work to clear off the infection and control inflammation. Ensure you use antibiotics according to prescription.

3. Engaging in a good skincare routine, such as washing your face twice daily with soap and water or a cleanser, and applying a prescribed moisturizer.

4. Getting skincare products that have Benzoyl peroxide or Salicylic acid. Salicylic acid and Benzoyl peroxide prevent the abnormal shedding of the skin.

5. Eating well and using the right products: Ensure you eat well and avoid buying skincare products that are not ‘dermatologist tested.’

6. Oral contraceptives: Birth control pills counteract the effect of the male hormones, which have a large part to play in acne formation. Only women can take this.

Don’t let acne slow you down. If needed, see a skin specialist (dermatologist). Acne tends to improve over time in most people.