How to Get Rid of Acne, and HAve the Skin You've Always Wanted?

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Answered by: Lacey, An Expert in the Beauty - General Category
Acne is just as much an emotional pain as it is a physical one. A person's face is what they first greet the world with, and what they first see when they look in the mirror every day-- which brings us to the question that's been repeatedly asked by people from all over the world-- how does one get rid of acne?

The first step is to determine what's causing the outbreaks. This varies from person to person. For some, the issue is irregular hormones-- which can only be tested by a doctor. For this reason, many people leave this as the last option to explore. However, if a hormonal imbalance is the cause of a female's outbreaks, it's usually a very simple matter for her to start taking a birth control pill to regulate the hormones.

For others, the problem may be a food allergy-- and while this could also be tested by a doctor, many choose to simply eliminate the suspected problem-food from their diet. A food allergy may be mild enough in that it only causes acne, and shows no other allergy symptoms. If eliminating one food group-- such as soy, gluten, sugar, or dairy-- does not help, move on to try eliminating another.

For yet another individual, the problem may be irritation caused by a particular skin or hair product. The best way to test this out is to stop using ALL skin and hair products, and then slowly add them back in, one at a time. Usually a period of one and a half months in between products is sufficient. If one uses a lot of products, it will take a lot of time to figure out which is the culprit, but this is a step that should only need to be done once.

For other people the cause of their acne may simply be that they need to exfoliate their skin more often-- for these people, not exfoliating enough means that their pores are getting clogged by the dead skin cells. The clogged pores help to breed bacteria, which the skin attempts to defend itself against, thus resulting in whiteheads, etc.

It may seem that after one knows the cause, getting rid of acne would be simple. Unfortunately, the treatment options for acne are just as numerous as the causes for acne. If one's problem is a food allergy or irritating product, eliminating the allergen or irritant should be sufficient, while if a female's issue is a hormonal imbalance, birth control pills may be enough.

If, however, an individual needs more exfoliation, there are two types which he or she can try: manual/physical, or chemical. Both can be as mild or as strong as is needed. For manual or physical exfoliation, gently washing the face with a washcloth and warm water are one option, while using a facial scrub is another. Be wary of the later option though-- the only facial scrubs appropriate for the facial skin are those that have synthetic "beads". A scrub which has natural exfoliating particles will be too rough on the delicate facial skin, and may cause micro-tears over time. Another problem with facial scrubs is that since every person is different, it's possible that introducing a new product could be irritating to the extent that it would CAUSE breakouts instead of eliminate them. With skincare in general, less is more.

AS far as chemical exfoliation goes, there are also options. For mild exfoliation, there are AHA's and BHA's. An AHA is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid-- glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, and mandelic acid are all AHA's . AHA's are commonly found in acidic fruits, such as oranges, lemons, limes, and tomatoes, as well as in yogurt and milk. A BHA is a Beta Hydroxy Acid, specifically salicylic acid. The difference between an AHA and a BHA is that while an AHA is water-soluble and affects mostly the top layer of the skin, a BHA is oil-soluble, and can go through the oil on the skin and into the pores to clean them out. For this reason, an AHA is typically used to exfoliate and smooth the top layers of the skin by speeding up skin cell turn-over rate, and thus making the skin look more fresh and even in tone, while a BHA is most commonly used to clear the pores of clogs and dirt, thus preventing outbreaks. Both are equally important to a person who is acne-prone.

There are also temporary fixes for acne: chemical peels and cortisone injections. A chemical peel uses an acid, such as a stronger AHA or BHA, a Jessner (salicylic acid, lactic acid, and resorcinol in a base of ethanol), Retinoic acid (vitamin A/ retinol), Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), or Phenol, to make the skin peel and shed its outer layers. The stronger the peel, the more skin that is shed. The skin that is shed is the skin that has been affected by the acne, bacteria, scars, pigmentation, etc, and the "new" skin that is revealed is generally fresh and unblemished, depending on how deeply the peel penetrates.

This is considered a temporary solution because unless the underlying cause for the acne is resolved, one will continue to break out again after a short period of time. Chemical peels are most often used after acne has been treated, to help diminish the appearance of the resulting scars and pigmentation. Another temporary solution is a cortisone injection given by a doctor, usually a dermatologist. The steroid is injected directly into the cyst, and said blemish heals in about a week. This option does nothing to prevent future outbreaks, however.

As well as incorporating the above suggestions into one's skincare routine, a very popular method of acne treatment is using a product that contains Benzoyl Peroxide to eradicate the bacteria on the surface of the skin. There are many such products available, and in a variety of strengths. As Benzoyl Peroxide can be quite drying, and thus irritating to the skin, it is best to start with a product which contains a lower percentage and work up to a higher percentage over a period of a few weeks to a couple months, depending on the skin's sensitivity.

In addition to the above mentioned recommendations, it will always be less irritating to the skin to use products that are fragrance-free and do not contain artificial dyes. In addition, a formula that is PH-balanced especially for facial skin, having a PH balance of between 4 and 6.5, which is slightly acidic, is most preferable.

To get rid of acne, an individual must consider all possible contributors, and treat the skin accordingly.

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