When we talk of acne, it’s better to start at the very beginning. Why does acne occur? Actually, acne usually occurs on an oily skin. There are stages of life when the oil glands are activated, like during adolescence. Hormonal activity during teenage also activates the oil glands. That is why acne is more common during adolescence. Stress can trigger off an acne condition too, as stress has an effect on the adrenal glands, which in turn, leads to excessive secretion of sebum, the skin’s natural oil. What many people may not know is that a blackhead is the primary acne lesion. In other words, acne starts with a blackhead. An oily skin is prone to blackheads. Neglected blackheads irritate the surrounding tissues of the skin, resulting in inflammation. This sets the stage for pimples and acne. A single pimple does not mean an acne condition. Also pimples occur on the surface. A pimple may just mean inflammation, but in acne, there is bacterial activity and therefore, infection. An acne condition comprises of many kinds of eruptions, like blackheads, whiteheads, cysts (lumps), eruptions with pus, etc.

Appropriate cleansing is important for acne, in order to reduce oiliness and check the spread of the condition. However, too much soap and water washing makes the skin too alkaline and leaves it further predisposed to acne. Medicated soap, cleanser or lotion should be used twice a day, morning and night. Night time cleansing is most important. A rose-based skin tonic or astringent lotion should be used after cleansing to wipe the face. It should also be used during the day to refresh the skin and reduce oiliness. Oily creams and moisturizers should not be applied. Protective creams may be applied. Medicated lotions and preparations must be used to control an acne condition. At night, after cleansing, an anti-acne lotion should be applied only on the eruptions. If there are marks left behind by acne, an anti-blemish preparation may be used. Night creams or moisturizers should not be applied or massaged on oily skin. Scrubs and grainy masks should be avoided. They may be used after the acne condition has subsided, in order to deal with the scars.

Clinical treatments are also available for acne, which involves cleansing and “clean-up”. The skin is cleansed with medicated cleansers and blackheads are extracted. This is an important way of checking the spread of the condition. We also provide treatment with specialized gadgets, to create a germicidal environment on the skin. Cold compress is given and the skin is toned. Medicated masks and protective creams are used to soothe the skin and cure the eruptions.

I am often asked if women are more prone to acne than men and whether shaving will aggravate an acne condition. Actually, men are more prone to acne than women. Male skin is thicker than female skin. It is also richer in oil-producing glands. Therefore, male skin is oilier and has larger pores, which can get more easily clogged with oil, leading to pimples and acne. If the skin is oily, the effort should be to reduce oiliness. The simple way of preventing acne is to cleanse the skin morning and night with a medicated cleanser or cleanser for oily skin. Rinse with plenty of water. After shaving, wipe the skin with an astringent lotion. An after-shave lotion would also help to prevent infection. If there is any bleeding from an eruption, apply an anti-acne lotion or medicated ointment. If there is no acne, use a facial scrub two or three times a week, applying it on the face and rubbing gently with small circular movements. Wash off with water. This helps to prevent blackheads, which in turn prevents acne.

Acne points to a congested skin and congested system. Therefore, one should have a diet that helps to cleanse the system and keep it flushed of toxins and wastes. The diet should be high in fibre and rich in vitamins and minerals. It should include fresh fruits, raw salads, sprouts, wholegrains, yogurt, fresh fruit juices, clear soups, lassi. A low fat diet would help. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Add the juice of a lemon to a glass of water and have it first thing in the morning. A person with acne should avoid fried foods and reduce sugar. 

Acne needs professional care and in good time. Teenagers are often told, “you will grow out of it,” but by then it is too late, because acne can leave behind a havoc of scars……dark marks and pits in the skin. Laser therapy, microdermabrasion and peel treatments are given for acne scars. I devised Veg Peel, to make it safe and eliminate the risks of chemical peeling and other invasive methods. All said and done, where acne is concered, prevention is always better than cure.

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