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Dealing with acne

Roanna Silveira

Acne is the bane of many teenagers’ existence and it can extend even up to adulthood.

What is acne?

Pimples or acne form when hair follicles under the skin clog up. Pimples usually form on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders.

They are different types:

Whiteheads: These remain under the skin and are small.

Blackheads: Clearly visible, they are black and appear on the surface of the skin.

Papules: Small, usually pink bumps, these are visible on the surface of the skin.

Pustules: Clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are red at their base and have pus at the top.

Nobules: Clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are large, solid and painful pimples that are embedded deep in the skin.

Cysts: Clearly visible on the surface of the skin. They are painful and filled with pus. Cysts can cause scars.

Causes of acne

Acne is caused when the hair follicles, known as comedones, get clogged with dead skin cells and sebum. It usually affects areas of skin with high amounts of sebaceous glands.

The exact cause of acne is unknown but hormonal changes, especially during teenage years and pregnancy, play a role. Acne is associated with an increase in hormones such as testosterone and that is why it is common in teenagers and young adults. Excessive growth of propionibacterium acne, a bacterium normally present on the skin, is a factor that leads to acne.

Stress can make acne worse.

Genetics is thought to be a major cause of acne in most cases.

Certain drugs can cause acne. Greasy cosmetics can make skin cells stick together to form a plug. It is best to avoid such products.

Myths behind acne

Chocolate and greasy foods are often blamed, but there is little evidence that food has much effect on acne in most people.

People with acne are often told to wash their face, but over-washing can lead to even more irritation of the skin and can result in over production of oil. Blackheads and pimples are not caused by dirt, but by pores clogged by bacteria growing in them.

What does acne do?

Acne is not dangerous. However, it can lead to long term scarring which can lead to lower self esteem, anxiety and depression in severe cases.

Avoiding acne

Wash your face no more than twice a day with warm water and mild soap meant for acne. Wash your face after heavy exercise. Avoid strong soaps or rough scrubs.

Avoid bursting the pimple, as this may push the infection down causing more blocking and swelling.

Avoid touching the face as this can transfer dirt and bacteria to the face.

Wash hands frequently, especially before applying lotions or makeup.

Clean spectacles regularly as they collect sebum and skin cells.

Use loose clothing to reduce acne on the body.

Choose skincare products and makeup for sensitive skin and avoid oil-based products. Choose products which are non-comedogenic (which do not cause closed pores).

Remove makeup before sleeping. Follow a proper regime to effectively cleanse the skin each day.

Wash hair regularly and avoid greasy hair products. If you have oily hair, you may want to wash it every day.

Exfoliate before shaving and use sharp razors. Shaving with a dull razor can lead to the formation of pimples.

Reduce scarring

People with darker skin often see post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – marks that appear brown. Those with lighter skin often develop post-inflammatory erythema which is purple or red marks.

Acne scars are deep indentations that are usually caused from picking at a blemish. They take much longer to remove and can only be erased with laser treatment.

A true acne scar is when the body takes that healing process one step further and is not able to actually form the collagen the normal way. If there is a lot of inflammation, the collagen and elastic tissue may not be able to regenerate completely or it does in a disorganised fashion leaving one with a scar.

If you have a fresh pimple, soak the blemish at night and warm it up a little bit to loosen up the pus and then do a spot treatment with mild benzoyl peroxide. If you’re worried about using chemicals, then try a little honey mixed with cinnamon powder.

If the pimple leaves a scar, the mark can remain for about six months before it starts lightening up. Use a product with glycolic or salicylic acid to exfoliate the skin will bring the dark skin cells to the surface. Retinoid skin products brighten and heal the skin.

Be sure to use a sunscreen daily as it reduces marks and scars.

Follow these tips to get clearer, healthier skin!

(Writer can be contacted at


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