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What Is Acne (Zits!) and How Do You Get Rid of It?

Updated on August 21, 2017
Cyndi10 profile image

The former executive director of a successful nonprofit agency now content specialist, Cynthia writes about a variety of researched topics.

Fighting Acne - What Is That Zit!

Nearly 100% of the adult population will experience fighting acne, commonly called zits, at some point in their lives. It may be a short one or fighting acne may have started in adolescence and you still don't see an end. Fighting acne is very real.

While acne is not a life threatening condition, it is a life impacting one. For teens who are already struggling with identity and self esteem, acne can trigger insecurities that play a part in all aspects of a teen's life. For an adult, acne is annoyance that most often flairs up under the pressure of stress. You can almost be sure that it will show up when you have that important presentation to make to your boss or you have the first date with the great girl or guy you met while buying your latte. Fighting acne, those ugly red spots no matter how small they may really be, becomes the battle of the day.

Clinically, acne is a skin disorder consisting of the eruption of red pimples and bumps, appearing on the face, the chest or the upper back. The severity of acne can vary from the very mild, occasional bump here or there to very severe, unsightly pustules, are inflamed, red cysts that are resistant to treatment. Acne can leave scars that last a lifetime if untreated.

Acne flair ups are visible when the sebaceous glands produce an overabundance of sebum (oil). These pores become clogged when the sebum combines with dead cells. The result is a bacterial growth that causes inflammation, resulting in acne or acne blackheads.

Some of the causes of acne in teens and adults are well established. Chances are good that if your mother or father had flawless skin, you are much less likely to end up fighting acne. On the other hand, if both or one of your parents had acne, chances are very good that you and your siblings will too. Genes play a roll in the appearance of acne as do hormones, diet, poor hygiene and some medications.

Sebum and dirt become trapped in the hair follicles, the start of fighting acne.
Sebum and dirt become trapped in the hair follicles, the start of fighting acne. | Source

Zapping That Zit

What can you do to fight acne? Short and simple, if you are fighting acne, there is no cure. However, the good news is there are treatments to ameliorate the severity of the symptoms and to clear up the skin.

Proper Diet

One of the best treatments when fighting acne is proper diet. Unless your diet has been extremely bad, it may be the easiest treatment to incorporate since eating is usually a part of your daily routine. In additon, that same "healthy skin" diet also has tremendous health benefits for the rest of your body including maintaining proper weight.

Sources of food that are especially good for the skin are those foods full of vitamins A, B and E. Leafy green vegetables such a spinach, kale and collards are full of these vitamins and can be powerhouses in fighting acne. Eating fresh and dried fruit such as cantaloupe, apples and raisins are also excellent sources of those important skin vitamins. Berries are another easy to find vitamin source. These foods have antioxidant properties important in fighting inflammation, the key element of acne.

Other foods that are good at fighting acne include apple cider vinegar. The apple cider vinegar can be ingested or applied topically. Now, before you pucker up just anticipating the taste, apple cider vinegar can be mixed with warm water or tea and honey, another beneficial food. The taste is not quite as sour.

Apple cider vinegar, organic or processed, is rich in alpha hydroxy acids known to enhance collagen production and balance the skin's pH levels so that it is not too acidic nor too alkaline. Whether applied or ingested, apple cider vinegar has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, all needed to aid in fighting acne and promoting clear skin. It should be noted that though it is a sugar, honey is good sugar - healthier than other sugars - because it falls in the good range of the Glycemic Index, meaning blood sugars remain relatively stable after ingesting honey.

Taking supplements are also a good way to combat acne. Along with the supplements you may already take, include vitamin A, B, and E, as well as evening primrose oil taken with zinc and acidophilus culture taken as liquid or capsules. There is also the sea buckthorn berry, which may not be as familiar as the previously mentioned supplements. According to Earl Mindell, author of the New Vitamin Bible, sea buckthorn berries are antiviral and antibacterial, in addition to being an excellent source of Omega fatty acids. After consulting with your medical specialist for advice on dosage, sea buckthorn berries may be taken in oil or powder form.

Although their detrimental effects are still not totally understood and certainly not universal, you should steer clear of foods that are too fatty, have too much processed sugar and may have hormones added such as some milk and some meats. In addition don't eat processed foods which tend to be high in iodized salt, especially since iodine has been found to contribute to the severity of acne.

Topical Treatments

Also available for the arsenal of acne fighters are essential oils. Essential oils can be applied directly to the skin and include patchouli, 100% tea tree oil, and lavender. These are called topical oils and their strength should be diluted with carrier oils. Full strength application could be harmful to the skin and, instead of fighting acne, you could wind up trying to combat dry skin patches, inflammation or even making the acne symptoms worse.

There is more good news for those fighting acne. Science is continually trying to find new ways to get rid of this prevalent problem. An array of topicl treatments are available. These treaments include prescription medicines such as Retinol A, tetracycline, and even birth control pills.

Also at the dermatologist's disposal are laser and light based therapies. In some cases, when the acne has formed nodules and cysts, the dematologist will use steriod injections. These tend to abate the inflammation and flatten out the skin.

Some of the medical interventions used in the fighting acne have side affects that your medical professional will make you aware of. If you are visiting a naturopath or holistic doctor to aid you in your fight against acne, they will also inform you of any side affects in treatments they recommend.

Not to be left out are the myriad of treatments found in the neighborhood pharmacy. Search out the brand that seems to work best in your fight against acne. The pharmacist may be of help, as can by your dermatologist. Some brands have been known to be more effective than others. Brands that have salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as an ingredient have been found to be very effective. These agents promote cell growth, sloughing off dead cells. These particular ingredients work particularly well on the occasional breakout. Again, hygiene is important to getting rid of those dead cells.

Benefits of Exercise and Water

The benefits of exercise and drinking plenty of water should not be overlooked. Put simply, exercise causes perspiration, perspiration cleanses toxins from the pores. Water aids in perspiration and keeps the body hydrated, keeping skin smooth and supple.

It is important to note that squeezing pimples is not an answer to fighting acne. Acne scars can result from squeezing an acne pimple. Very rarely are there good results with a popped pimple. In fact, squeezing will probably make the acne worst. This is another reason to keep your hands away from your face.

Fighting acne can leave scars in many places, including the psyche. Acne is often at its worst during adolescence when hormones, bad diet and even bad hygiene are all at play. Adults are not immune, however. In adulthood, it is most often hormones that once again play a part. Adopting a regimen for keeping the skin clean, washing with a mild soap at least twice a day, and eating right will benefit your adult skin and aid you in your fight against acne.

Remember, acne comes in many forms, but it is almost always an annoyance and sometimes can mar your self confidence at the most crucial times. (Think prom night for teens.) If we are diligent, you can mitigate its severity and end up with fantastically clear skin. First and foremost eat your way to the best skin possible. The right foods are the best defense when fighting acne.

Even though there is no cure, the many treatments available today can help in managing all but the most stubborn cases of acne. There is no magic bullet, however, and each of these remedies takes time that is usually commiserate with the severity of the disease. With age, however, comes an abatement of the symptoms until the acne has usually cleared up by the time you are further into adulthood.

© 2012 Cynthia B Turner


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