Acne is a relatively common and aggravating skin condition that affects over 80% of the global population at some point in their lives. The primary symptoms of Acne are painful spots to developing on the face, back and chest. On top of this, the condition also causes the body to produce too much oil, or sebum, as well as making patches of skin hot, inflamed and sore to the touch.
For most people who end up suffering from Acne, they’ll end up experiencing it during puberty when the body undergoes significant hormonal changes. It’s believed these hormonal changes are one of the main causes of Acne, as the vast majority of people who develop the condition do so between the ages of 11 and 30 years old. For young women they are most likely to experience symptoms of Acne between the ages of 14 and 17; however, for young men the condition tends to present itself for the first time around the ages of 16 and 19.
Thankfully for the vast majority of people who suffer from the condition, it tends to dissipate by the time the sufferer reaches their mid-20s. Nevertheless, there are a number of people who find their Acne follows them into adulthood; roughly 5% of women and 1% of men find that their Acne persists passed the age of 25.
One of the most frequently asked questions regarding Acne is how to treat the skin condition! Thankfully there are plenty of potential treatment options available for Acne depending on the severity of the condition in the individual. Although there are prescription options available for severe cases of Acne, most people will have significant success using over-the-counter treatments such as Acne Creams and Ointments – but how do they work?
How Do I Find an Acne Cream that Actually Works?
Before going to the pharmacist and looking for an Acne Cream, Ointment, Lotion, Wash or Foam – it’s important that you know how and why these treatments work. Many of the treatment options available work in different ways, for example: some products work solely by killing the P.acnes bacteria that causes the inflammation associated with Acne, others work by reducing the build up of oil/sebum and there are a few that encourage the growth of new skin cells whilst removing dead ones.
With so many possibilities it’s important you know what your treatment is going to do for your Acne, here are some of the most common active ingredients included in over-the-counter treatments:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids – There are two types of Alpha Hydroxy Acids that you can often find being used in over-the-counter Acne medications: Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid. Alpha Hydroxy Acids help treat Acne by dissolving dead skin cells whilst at the same time reducing inflammation. Although these Acids are destroying dead skin cells, they’re also encouraging the growth of brand-new skin cells – in doing so they reduce the appearance of pours, smooth your skin and help Acne Scare to heal!
- Benzoyl Peroxide – Benzoyl Peroxide is used in Acne treatments and creams to kill the bacteria responsible for causing inflammation, it also removes excess oil and the dead skin cells that have a nasty habit of blocking your pores. Treatments containing Benzoyl Peroxide are often available in strengths ranging from 2.5 to 10 percent. With that being said, if you choose to use a treatment that contains Benzoyl Peroxide you should be aware of some of the possible side-effects, these include: stinging, redness, burning and dry skin. Also be aware that it has bleaching properties and can stain clothing.
- Salicylic Acid – Salicylic acid is highly effective at destroying the oil/sebum Acne is responsible for creating – this means your pours are more likely to stay clean and you’re less likely to develop painful spots. Products containing Salicylic Acid are often sold in strengths ranging from 0.5% to 5%. Possible side-effects caused by the active ingredient include stinging and minor irritation of the skin the treatment was applied to.
- Sulfur – Sulfur is used as an active ingredient in Acne Creams and treatments because it helps to dissolve and remove the dead skin cells and excessive oil that the condition is notorious for producing. Sulfur is an effective treatment, but it’s usually used in combination with other active ingredients such as Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide. Be aware products containing Sulfur often have a not-so-pleasant smell and can dry your skin out.
When using Acne Creams and treatments with these active ingredients, it often will come down to your own personal preferences in what you choose to use. Some people with sensitive skin may be able to tolerate some of the active ingredients better than they can others – the best advice when trying these treatments is to start with the lower strength doses of the active ingredients.
It’s also important that you recognise that many of these home treatments will take a number of months of daily use before you begin to notice results. However, whatever you choose to use, don’t be afraid to experiment in finding a treatment option that’s optimal for you!