Facing up to it
Of all the things that come along to make life more difficult for teenagers, acne has to rate amongst the most distressing.
At a time when it’s important to look your best in order to attract a member of the opposite sex, the last thing that you need is an outbreak of acne – particularly if it means that your face is covered in lots of horrible, red and angry blotches or masses of whiteheads or blackheads.
Even if your face doesn’t get too badly hit with acne, your neck, shoulders and back might – and that could be just as embarrassing.
Luckily a lot of teenagers just grow out of acne, but for those who don’t it can become a recurring nightmare.
What causes the spots then?
Everybody gets the occasional spot or zit and it very soon disappears if left alone, but acne is particularly persistent and doesn’t usually stop at just the occasional spot or zit. An acne outbreak can be quite mild or quite severe, but mainly it is something that is most unwelcome.
In its mild form, acne is non-inflammatory and usually results in the formation of whiteheads or blackheads on the skin. At this stage it can be controlled with the application of a topical cream such as Zovirax, but if untreated or, worse still, picked or squeezed, the spots may become inflamed and form nodules or cysts
The skin is covered in pores, which are tiny holes that contain a follicle, sweat glands and sebaceous glands. Quite a lot to fit into one tiny hole! The sweat glands are responsible for cooling the surface of the skin and reducing body temperature. The sebaceous gland on the other hand secretes an oily substance called sebum which helps to keep your skin soft and removes dead cells.
Acne occurs when the sebaceous gland produces too much sebum, resulting in the pore getting clogged up with too much oil, which attracts dirt, cells and bacteria. As this blockage eventually rises to the surface, it causes the familiar whiteheads to form. If the blockage manages to break through the surface of the skin, the blockage oxidises and turns a darker colour turning the whole thing into a blackhead.
Dealing with whiteheads and blackheads naturally is important, because if they are picked or squeezed it can lead to inflammation, causing more pain and worse problems to contend with. The inflammation is caused when the wall of the pore collapses and white blood cells converge on the site. When the white blood cells eventually make it to the surface of the skin they form pustules, more commonly known as pimples or zits.
If the collapse occurs at the bottom of the pore instead of the walls, then the white blood cells become trapped beneath the surface of the skin causing hard, painful cysts, usually referred to as cystic acne.
There are several things that can be done to control an outbreak of acne, but it is always a good idea to try and prevent one if possible. Cleanse and moisturize your skin to remove excess oils. Some of the things that might provoke an outbreak are:
· Acne could be hereditary. You can’t really prevent that, but at least you are forewarned that there might be a problem.
· Stress is never good for you, whether it is physical or emotional. That is certainly true of acne sufferers and so avoiding stressful situations whenever possible could help you avoid an acne outbreak too.
· Cleansing and moisturizing your skin will help to prevent environmental pollutants causing an acne outbreak
· Being run down lowers your body’s resistance to many things and acne is no exception. Make sure you get enough rest.
· Some cosmetics and perfume may trigger an acne outbreak
There are many ways of treating acne and some methods work better for some people than others. The secret is finding the method that suits you. You may find the following information useful in your search for a remedy.
Try an Acne Mask
Acne tends to diminish after adolescence in most people, but some adults do still suffer from it, especially women as it can be triggered by hormonal imbalance. Many women use acne masks to treat acne outbreaks. Acne masks can be bought at drug stores or department stores and are similar to an ordinary facial mask, the difference being that an acne mask has ingredients specifically suited to treating acne.
There are a number of advantages to making your own acne mask, however, rather than buying one from a store.
1. You control the ingredients that go into a homemade acne mask.
2. You can save money by making your own acne mask, rather than paying store prices.
3. It is easier and cheaper to experiment using homemade acne masks. Different ingredients work better on some people than they do on others. It won’t cost you a fortune to try different acne mask configurations.
4. Homemade acne masks usually contain natural ingredients and have no side effects.
Acne masks provide deep cleansing for the skin and can unblock pores by tightening them. Once removed, the masks leave the skin feeling fresh and revitalised and the healing action can carry on for quite a while afterwards.
What Goes Into a Homemade Acne Mask?
Before deciding which ingredients to use for your homemade acne mask, it will help if you understand your skin type. Different skin types need to be tackled with different ingredients.
1. Dry Skin – Dry skin needs a hydrating acne mask and ingredients could include honey and essential oils. You could make a simple acne mask for dry skin using grated apples and honey, applying it with a brush and rinsing off after about a quarter of an hour.
2. Oily Skin – Ingredients to soak up the oil are probably best and a recipe could include oatmeal and honey. The secret to the success of this mask is applying it to the face before you eat it all.
3. Sensitive Skin – A very simple acne mask is a plain yoghurt one. You simply spread the plain yoghurt over the affected area and wait ten minutes before you wash it off. Yoghurt can be effective at restoring your skin’s pH balance, removing the harmful bacteria that causes acne and getting rid of excess sebum.
You may have noticed that honey is mentioned a couple of times as an ingredient for an acne mask. You may wonder what the magic ingredient is in honey that makes it effective in treating acne.
Honey is a marvellous product made from the nectar of flowers by bees and has been used for medicinal purposes going back to the pharaohs of Egypt. The unique properties of honey mean that microorganisms are unable to grow in it and so it is useful in combating resistant bacteria. The way it does this has only been fully understood in recent times.
1. Honey contains methylglyoxal (MGO) which is a known antibacterial agent.
2. Honey kills off microorganisms by reducing the pH of the skin.
3. Honey is low in water content and will draw water from any microorgamisms it encounters, dehydrating them.
4. Honey slowly releases hydrogen peroxide which breaks down the cell walls of microorganisms.
Honey helps treat acne in a variety of ways and that is why it is an excellent ingredient for an acne mask for most skin types.
What’s The Verdict?
Although acne can’t be cured, there are numerous ways of treating it and coping with it and, hopefully, it will eventually disappear of its own accord when the sufferer grows out of their oily teenage skin and takes on the mantle of healthy adult skin.
There are many factors that will trigger an acne outbreak and it isn’t always possible to avoid them. Things such as stress and being fatigued seem to be becoming part of ordinary modern life. The only course of action left, is to treat the outbreak as quickly and as effectively as possible. There are many proprietary products on the market, but sometimes it is more beneficial to take matters into your own hands. Acne masks are an example of how an individual can take charge of the ingredients used to treat acne.
Having the freedom to experiment with the ingredients for an effective acne mask means that the right results can be achieved for far less outlay than if store bought masks were being used. Also, homemade acne masks can be made with natural products that are unlikely to cause any serious side effects – or mild side effects come to that.
Acne masks should not necessarily be used in isolation and it is always best to try different things until a suitable solution can be established. Acne masks can leave the skin feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, but it is probably advisable to apply a moisturizer to the skin once the mask has been removed.