The most common skin condition that affects Americans is acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Hormones are thought to play a part in triggering acne. This condition is most common in teenagers; however, anyone can be affected by acne. Proper skin care and treatment of the blemishes are the best ways to care for acne-prone skin—even when no acne is present.
Oil-producing glands called sebaceous glands produce an oily substance that lubricates the skin and hair. When these glands produce too much sebum, there is a chance that skin follicles that are being shed can mix with this oil to produce a plug that blocks a hair follicle. When this happens, acne occurs.
Acne causes blemishes on the skin. While they are commonly referred to as pimples, zits, whiteheads and blackheads, these blemishes have other names. Whiteheads and blackheads are known as comedones. Nodules, pustules and papules are the types of pimples and zits that occur with acne. Cysts, or subsurface pus-filled bumps, are also possible with severe acne infections. Acne blemishes may cause localized pain and itching.
Caring for acne-prone skin involves following a specific skin care routine. The area must be cleaned using a gentle antibacterial soap no more than twice per day. If the acne-prone area is near hair, the hair must be kept clean and oil-based products shouldn’t be used on the hair. For acne that occurs in clothed areas, the Mayo Clinic advises sufferers to wear loose clothing to avoid irritation. Nonacnegenic and noncomedogenic products should be used on acne-prone skin because these products won’t aggravate acne.
Mild to moderate acne can usually be treated with over-the-counter acne products that are benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid based. More severe or persistent acne may require prescription treatments, such as topical retinoids or antibiotics. Severe cases may require systemic treatment using isotretitoin.
Acne isn’t caused by foods, states the American Academy of Dermatology. However, if you eat greasy foods, you must make sure that you don’t leave any oils on your skin after you eat as these oils may clog the pores and make your acne flare up.
If acne doesn’t clear up with over-the-counter treatments, a trip to the dermatologist may be warranted to minimize the risk of acne-related complications. Acne that is left untreated may cause significant scarring, especially when cysts are present. Scarring is also possible if you pick at the acne blemishes or if you try to “pop” the blemishes. If scarring does occur, it may be possible to have the scars minimized using cosmetic procedures.