Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Over the counter acne medications and how they work

Benzoyl Peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most common acne treatments. It can come in a variety of different forms, such as gels, topical creams, and cleansers. It can usually be found in concentrations of 2.5%, but can go all the way up to 10%. It is a mild drying and peeling agent which clears pores and kills bacteria. When using this product, one must be careful not to get it near the hairline or on clothing because of its bleaching effects.

Salicylic Acid: Salicylic acid increases the turnover of cells in the skin. When applied, it will open up pores and unclog them, leaving skin feeling clean and refreshed. As it dries, the pores close back up which causes a tightening sensation, and also prevents the pores from becoming clogged again.

Sulfur: Sulfur slowly oxidizes into sulfurous acid, which acts as an antibacterial agent. It causes the skin to dry and peel which reduces the amount of oil on the skin and prevents pores from becoming blocked.

Resorcinol: Resorcinol is an antiseptic and disinfectant, and is especially useful in treating acne when it is combined with another ingredient such as sulfur. It is very effective against blackheads and whiteheads. It is usually found in concentrations of 2% or less, unless it is prescribed by a physician.

Glycolic Acid: Glycolic acid is very effective at penetrating the skin. It exfoliates the skin by loosening the bonds between dead skin cells to reveal healthy skin. It is also commonly used to reduce the appearance of acne scars.

Azelaic Acid: Azelaic acid inhibits the growth of acne causing bacteria and keeps pores clear. It also reduces inflammation. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Experience with Accutane

I was in fifth grade when I got my first pimple. After that, it all went downhill. Throughout middle school and high school, I was teased for my acne. I saw numerous dermatologists, and tried just about everything, with no results. Some of the medications that I was prescribed made the condition worse, some made me sick, and some did nothing at all. After I graduated high school, I was prescribed Accutane. I had to go through the whole I-Pledge program, watched some videos, took a pregnancy test, started taking birth control, and waited a month to finally get started on the pills. I was really hopeful that my skin 
problems would finally be cured!

Some people have wonderful experiences with Accutane. I have heard it called a miracle drug that is able to cure even the most stubborn cases of acne. I can only speak from my own experience with the drug. It was absolutely horrible. As soon as I started taking it, I felt the effects. My skin became so dry and cracked that the flakes would come off in chunks, and it bled. I would have at least one nosebleed per day, and sometimes it seemed like they wouldn’t stop. My eyes were constantly bloodshot because they were so dry. My lips became so parched and cracked that chap-stick did nothing but make them bleed more. The acne that was supposed to be clearing up became even worse; the pustules swelled to twice the normal size, and there were ten times as many. I was so embarrassed and horrified by what I looked like. Worst of all, my insides hurt. I felt as though my guts were being wrenched and twisted into knots. I was terrified by these side effects, and I quit taking Accutane after a few months. Many years later, I am still feeling the effects. My eyes are constantly dry, which makes it difficult to see and to wear contacts. I have to wear disposable daily contacts because of how often the contacts rip while I am wearing them.

Because of the severe side effects of Accutane, there have been numerous lawsuits. Luckily, I did not have to experience some of the most painful or crippling effects, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease. One man even developed inflammatory bowel disorder and had to have the majority of his rectum and colon removed. Some of the other critical side effects include bone loss, lowered blood count, birth defects, Alopecia, and liver damage.

Once again, I can only speak from my own experience. I would not recommend anyone to take this drug without considering the serious and sometimes life-altering risks and doing a lot of research. There are so many other treatments for acne, sometimes it just takes a while to find the one that will work.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Types of Acne

Whether in infancy, puberty, or adulthood, approximately 90% of people experience acne during their lifetime. Everyone knows what acne is, but most people don’t realize how many different types there are. From the common Acne Vulgaris to the rare Acne Necrotica, acne affects the lives of countless people.

Acne Vulgaris: This type of acne has a number of possible causes. Genetic predisposition can be a largely contributing factor. Other common causes are cosmetics, certain medications such as steroids, exposure to sunlight, pregnancy, and hormonal changes which are associated with puberty. This type of acne can be treated with topical medication, antibiotics, and even birth control for women.

Acne Aestivalis:  This type of acne is caused by sun exposure. It is also known as Mallorca acne. Acne Aestivalis is distinguishable by the closely bunched red papules that form on the skin. This condition is more prominent in fair skinned people, especially those who sunbathe for long periods of time. Sunscreen does not appear to prevent an outbreak.

Acne Conglobata: This type of acne is extremely severe, but it is also rare. It is characterized by interconnected abscesses which cause disfigurement. The cystic pustules are filled with a foul smelling mixture of serum and pus. Although the cause is unknown, acne conglobata is thought to be aggravated by steroids, dioxins, and cessation of testosterone therapy. The best treatment for this type of acne is isotretinoin. Other antibiotics may sometimes also be used.

Acne Cosmetica: Caused by cosmetics, like the name suggests, this is a mild form of acne. The papules and pustules are usually small and cause the skin to look bumpy. Creams, oils, moisturizers and other cosmetics are common causes of this type of acne. When purchasing cosmetics, make sure that they are noncomedogenic, and be sure to completely remove all cosmetics at the end of the day.

Acne Fulminans: This type of acne is very uncommon, and is very severe. It is thought to be immunologically induced, caused by elevated levels of testosterone. These elevated testosterone levels can cause a rise in sebum and P acnes bacteria.  It often appears after unsuccessful treatments for acne conglobata. This condition is usually treated with steroids, and may require hospitalization if left untreated. Symptoms of this disease include pain and inflammation of the joints, swelling of lymph nodes, which causes inflexibility of the neck, and complete loss of appetite.

Acne Keloidalis Nuchae: This type of acne occurs primarily in men of African descent between the ages of 13 and 25. It is a scarring form of folliculitis, characterized by tender and itchy bumps and scars on the nape of the neck. Treatments for this condition include retinoid cream, steroid or cortisone preparations, and an antibiotic. Inflammation and scar tissue can be treated with laser therapy, steroid injections, surgery, or freezing with liquid nitrogen.

Acne Mechanica: This type of acne is caused by rubbing, which often occurs from clothing, belts, straps, or sports equipment. Topical treatments of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide usually do the trick to get rid of acne mechanica. If it is at all possible, removing the cause of the acne is the most effective treatment.

Acne Medicamentosa: This type of acne is caused or aggravated by medication, most commonly progestin, which is found in oral contraceptives. Steroid use can also be a contributing factor. To treat this condition, stay away from oral contraceptives and steroids.

Acne Miliaris Necrotica: This form of acne is a condition of the scalp which causes dandruff. Genetic predisposition may play a role in determining who is likely to get this form of acne, but the cause is unknown. It does not affect bald areas.

Acne Necrotica: Acne Necrotica is one of the more severe forms of acne, and is a persistent type of the common acne vulgaris. It is excruciatingly painful, and is deeply scarring, because it causes death of dermal cells. It is treated with very strong antibiotics and isotreitonin. Laser treatments are used to fade the scars which are left over from this disease.

Excoriated Acne: This type of acne is also known as picker’s acne. It is caused when the sufferer has a compulsive urge to pick at, scratch, or squeeze their blemishes. It can cause open sores, which may become infected and cause more serious problems. This condition may be linked to other serious health problems, such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, and ADHD.

Halogen Acne: Halogen acne is brought on by exposure to iodides and bromides. It is treated exactly the same as acne vulgaris. In fact, the only difference between halogen acne and acne vulgaris is the cause.

Infantile/Neonatal Acne: Neonatal acne occurs in infants, and usually peaks when the baby is approximately two months old. The cause is unknown, although it is thought to be triggered by the mother’s hormones, and treatment is not necessary. It affects approximately twenty percent of infants.

Occupational Acne: This form of acne is caused by exposure to a variety of irritants and chemicals. Treatment is different depending on which type of irritant the sufferer is exposed to. The easiest way to treat this ailment is to cease exposure to the irritant. A diagnosis for occupational acne is likely if the patient has an unusual pattern of acne.

Lupus Miliaris Disseminatus Faciei: Lupus Miliaris Disseminatus Faciei, also known as LMDF, is quite uncommon. This condition usually spontaneously resolves itself within one to three years, but a variety of antibiotics and steroids can successfully accelerate the healing process. LMDF is characterized by brown, red, or yellowish brown papules, particularly around the eyelids.  While the cause is unknown, it may be linked to an infection of M Tuberculosis.

Pomade Acne: Pomade acne is very similar to acne cosmetica. It is caused by the comodogenic oils that are found in hair pomade, and is therefore most commonly seen on the forehead. The best treatment is to discontinue use of pomades, or to avoid contact with the scalp and skin.

Tropical Acne:  Tropical acne is severe acne which is brought about by high heat and humidity, such as the climate of the tropics in the summer. The best treatment is to avoid heat and humidity. Over the counter remedies can also be helpful.