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What can be done about acne?

Acne is a condition affecting the sebaceous glands located deep in the skin of the face, neck, chest, and back. A tiny tube carries oil in the skin surface, where the tube becomes a pore. During adolescence, under the influence of the testosterone hormone, the sebaceous glands enlarge and secrete more oil. In those with acne, for unknown reasons, the pores become plugged with cells which are shed from the lining of the tubes and clumps of certain bacteria, which normally are present. This plugging leads to the formation of blackheads and pimples.

Almost everyone may develop some acne in his or her lifetime. Some get only a few blackheads and pimples, while other may be affected more severely. Most people develop it in their teens; others in their 20s or later. Acne rarely is seen in the elderly or infants. Almost all sufferers tend to outgrow acne eventually, usually by their early 20s.

Presently, there is no known cure. There are, however certain advice and treatment that have aided many people in keeping the condition under better control, Alliant Health System, Louisville, Ky., reports.

Face washing. Acne is not a condition of uncleanliness and therefore can not be washed away. You may wash your face two or three times a day with mild soap, if you wish, but don't do so excessively, as this may irritate the problem.

Diet. At the present time, most doctors don't emphasize diet in acne. Nevertheless, there are those who seem to be affected by certain foods. For instance, cola drinks, chocolate, and nuts or other fats may aggravate the condition. If you notice that your acne worsens within a week after eating certain foods, those particular items should be avoided.

Make-up and moisturizing creams. Do not use anything with oil on the face since this can lead to further plugging of the pores. Most moisturizing creams and many make-ups contain oil, but there are oil-free products available that are better for those with acne.

Mental attitude. It is most important to realize that acne will have to be dealt with, and adjusted to, until the condition runs its course. Try to maintain a positive outlook and not let those little oil glands stop you from doing the things you want to do.

Squeezing lesions. Acne eruptions should not be squeezed or picked. Using a compress of a warm wash cloth or cotton dipped in warm water until they open by themselves is preferable. An instrument called a comedone extractor is available, and doctors may use this instrument to open certain lesions on their patients.

Sunlight seems to be helpful for many with acne, but some people worsen in the sun. Doctors also treat acne with various locally applied medications that act by unplugging the pores and by their healing and germ-killing properties. The best of these contain benzoyle peroxide or retinoic acid. Antibiotics, such as Tetracycline, also are used by mouth for those people whose condition warrants it. Other drugs are under investigation, but will not be available for widespread use for several years.

If you are not able to control the condition with sensible home care, the physical and emotional effects become wearing, or there is a family history of severe acne, you should seek a physician's help. With proper care, most people adequately are able to control this distressing common skin disorder.
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Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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