What are Pimples? And, what is the difference between pimples and acne?
Pimples are small, red, swollen spots on the skin. (Merriam Webster)
Whereas, acne is a condition in which the skin on a person’s face, neck, back etc has small swollen spots called pimples. (Merriam Webster)
From the two definitions above, it has become clear to us that pimples and acne are almost the same. Just a slight difference between the two is that acne is a skin condition and pimples are one of the symptoms.
Since acne is one of the most common skin condition experienced by people of all race irrespective of age or sex, you must have had to fight, still fighting, or even know of someone who’s still looking for how to control pimples.
Before introducing you to the best strategies to overcome this skin condition called acne, let’s take a look at how it is induced.
How Is Acne Induced?
Acne is induced by the following pathogenic factors (Note: don’t mind the medical jargon, read the description to understand them better);
Hyperkeratinization: This is when an excess insoluble protein called keratin interrupts the normal skin shedding (also known as desquamation) and causes the dead skin cells to bond together, thereby leading to a blockage of the hair follicles.
Follicles are tiny holes from which hairs grow in the skin.
A blockage of the hair follicles from hyperkeratinization and an over-secretion of sebum is what lead to micro comedones (blackheads and whiteheads).
Excess Sebum: Sebum is an oily substance that lubricates the hair and is found in the skin’s hair follicle. It is produced by the sebaceous glands. However, It becomes excess when there is a high level of a male sex hormone called androgen.
Hormones are natural substances in the body that influences its growth and development.
As androgen secretes more and more sebum, there would be a rapid increase of microorganisms called P. acnes.
Propionibacterium Acnes (P. Acnes) Infection: Now known as Cutibacterium acnes (C. Acnes). They are bacteria that can live and grow without oxygen and are found in the sebum.
As the P. acnes increase, they trigger the skin to become inflamed which results in swollen red spots called pimples.
Inflammation: A condition in which a part of the skin becomes red, swollen, and painful. When the inflammation gets deep into the skin, cysts are formed.
What Are The Best Strategies To Overcome Acne?
Been able to control pimples, and overcoming acne as a whole could be very frustrating and challenging for most people experiencing them. This process involves a lot of trial and error, as what seems to have worked great for someone might be ineffective for another person.
#1. Eat Healthily
Although it has been proven that what you eat doesn’t really have any direct effect on the formation of pimples, its importance to your overall body health cannot be overemphasized. So, your first approach to fighting any form of skin condition or disease is to eat and stay healthy.
I know it might be difficult for you to ditch your favourite burger with fries and cola all of a sudden, I completely understand the struggle. But remember, these processed foods are often loaded with starch, fats, and sugar, which should be consumed in moderation and not excessively.
The next time you’re craving those junks, tell yourself “this too shall pass” and go for those fresh fruits and vegetables that are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, they also make you feel satisfied, keep you hydrated, and may boost your skin health while also preventing acne.
Do you know that Vitamin A found in apples, bananas, broccoli and many other fruits & veggies, is the essential component of retinoids–a very common therapy used topically to fight acne because of its comedolytic and anti-inflammatory properties.
#2. Beware of Makeup
Most makeup tends to do more bad than good. You might be using them to hide your acne which although isn’t a completely bad either, but it could end up blocking your pores and aggravating it more.
If at all you feel the need for makeup, always go for the non-comedogenic (meaning, does not clog pores) ones, and they are usually water-based. Use them sparingly, occasionally, and often let your skin breathe.
#3. Determine Your Skin Type
Knowing your skin type helps you to determine which product to use, it also helps you to know how to tailor your skincare to suit your need.
Despite the fact that acne mostly occurs on the oily skin types, there have been several cases of it occurring on both dry and normal skin types respectively.
Oily skin types have to be more strict with the non-comedogenic products. Whereas, dry skin types shouldn’t exfoliate excessively. Generally, acne-prone skins should take caution with exfoliating in other to prevent it from further irritating the skin.
#4. Adopt A Skincare Regimen
When it comes to your skincare regimen, follow the ‘kiss’ approach, you keep it simple and safe.
Gently cleanse your skin twice daily, using a mild cleanser at nights to properly remove makeup and other debris from the environment.
And, only with lukewarm water in the mornings, because you only have to refresh yourself. Or, you could proceed with using cleanser if you had to apply makeup the night before.
Toning helps to purify the skin by further cleansing the skin of the remaining specks of dirt left by the cleanser.
It also helps to nourish and hydrate the skin while balancing skin’s PH.
Albeit toners great benefit, they are mostly alcohol based, which tends to be too harsh for the skin. Ensure you read your labels to avoid the alcohol based ones.
Moisturize your skin with a moisturizing product that is tailored for acne-prone skins. And again, a non-comedogenic one. To learn more about the benefits of moisturizing read here.
#5. Use Products for Acne-prone Skin
Finding the right products for your acne-prone skin could be like a nightmare sometimes. Chances are you’ve tried several over the counter products, tried the most expensive brands and still haven’t found anyone to fulfil your need. Below are the ingredients to look for in products that could help to control pimples and their effects;
- Retinoids like adapalene and tazarotene; have comedolytic effects (which means they prevent acne) and anti-inflammatory effects (meaning they reduce redness, sullenness, and pain associated with inflammation).
- Caution should be taken while using retinoids as they may tend to sensitize the skin to the sun while causing redness and peeling.
- Antibiotics like erythromycin, clindamycin and dapsone; they also anti-inflammatory effect, and antimicrobial effects (which means they inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms).
- They should be used with benzoyl peroxide to prevent bacteria from developing a resistance to them.
- Benzoyl Peroxide; also have antimicrobial effects.
Retinoids and antibiotics would most likely be prescribed by your dermatologist, while Benzoyl peroxide is an ingredient that could easily be found in products that are over the counter.
Aside from the aforementioned strategies, there are also great strategies with the use of natural ingredients, which would be covered separately some other time.
After trying the above best strategies and there is no improvement in the case of severe acne, a dermatologist should be able to help you with other stronger medications and/or surgical procedures.
Remember, seeing results need a lot of patient and discipline. Don’t just use a product for a week or two, or even a month, then jump to another.
You have to at least use a product consecutively for about three to six months before it’s ineffectiveness could be justified.
Let us hear your opinions. What strategies helped you to overcome acne? Write down your comments below and let’s be enlightened together.