Acne is a common skin disorder that involves the skin's oil producing glands and hair follicles. Acne is caused by the build-up of debris, including dead skin cells, in the hair follicle causing obstruction of the oil flow and bacteria. This build-up results in the formation of "whiteheads" and "blackheads" more commonly known as acne.
The aggravating factors that may increase the occurrence of acne include:
- Stress, including difficulties in relationships, fatigue, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and/or illness.
- Hormones that stimulate oil production, which is why acne begins at puberty.
- Friction/sweating, especially the combination, can lead to acne. Hand-to-face contact is a common source of friction.
- Cosmetics/skin products, mainly oil based products, that can clog pores.
- Medicines such as steroids, birth control pills, some asthma medications, anti-epilepsy medicines, INH, and lithium.
- Nutritional supplements that have iodine.
The treatment of acne includes the following:
- Wash the skin twice a day and avoid excessive scrubbing. Use a mild soap like Neutrogena, Purpose, or Dove.
- Use water-based or dermatological safe cosmetics only.
- DO NOT pick or squeeze acne lesions.
- Use over-the-counter medication containing benzoyl peroxide.
- If acne fails to improve, seek a medical consult.
Self Care Tips:
- Keep your skin clean. Using a clean washcloth every time, work the soap into your skin gently for a minute or two and rinse well.
- Leave your skin alone! Don't squeeze, scratch, or poke at pimples. They can get infected and leave scars.
- Use over-the-counter cream or lotion that has benzoyl peroxide.
- Wash after you exercise or sweat.
- Wash your hair at least twice a week and keep it off your face.
- For men: Wrap a warm towel around your face before you shave. This will make your beard softer. Always shave the way the hair grows.
- Avoid too much time in the sun. Don't use a sun lamp.
- Use only water-based makeup. Don't use greasy or oily creams, lotions, or makeup.
When self-care is not enough, a health care provider can prescribe topical ointments and/or antibiotics. In cases of cystic acne or acne resistant to conventional treatment, an evaluation by a dermatologist is advisable and Accutane may be considered. No matter what treatments are recommended, remember to continue proper skin care.
- Web MD Acne Health Center. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/default.htm
For more information contact the UNC Student Health Center at 351-2412.