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Acne Treatment of Different Skin Types
September 20, 2011 11:30 AM
Not everyone has the same skin type, and if you have acne, then the treatment could be dependent on your skin type. Before discussing the different acne treatments available, therefore, it will be necessary to discuss the various skin types.
Skin types are graded in a number of ways, anything from 3 types to several. Here we shall discuss more than the normal three (oily, dry and normal) but instead look at seven.
1. Normal Skin
Normal skin looks evenly colored and textured, firm and smooth without larger pores. People with normal skin probably had mild acne when at high school, but cleared up fairly quickly during the teenage years without specialized treatment or scarring. Acne in this type of skin normally requires only mild topical treatment and a mild antibiotic face wash to keep the pores clean of dead skin cells.
Treatments designed to reduce sebum production could result in dry skin susceptible to environmental damage. What must be kept in mind is that the prime cause of acne is excessive production of skin oil, correctly known as sebum, becoming mixed with shed skin cells within the sebaceous pores and plugging them. When this plug gets infected with bacteria, the immune system leaps into action to produce puss through leucocytes attacking the bacteria, and inflammation designed to create temperature conditions alien to bacteria.
If you use treatments formulated to reduce sebum production in oily skin, then you might lose the natural skin oil needed to keep your skin Waterproof and resistant to the pollution and chemical agents that can cause dermatitis.
2. Dry Skin
If you got through adolescence with few or no skin problems, and you have dry hair and your skin feels dry after washing, then you have dry skin. It is even more important with dry skin that you do not use sebum-reducing treatments, if you even get acne at all. Only the mildest acne treatments should be used if you have dry skin, thought is unlikely that you will get anything other the very mildest case if you really have dry skin.
Your skin can dry through age, so to be of a dry skin type, you should have suffered, or be suffering, these problems while you are 35 years old or under. After that age your skin tends to dry out naturally.
3. Oily Skin
This completes the trilogy of the classic skin types. Oily skin is associated with acne, and if your hair is oily, you tend to tan very easily rather than go red in the sun, and if oily make-ups, such as some foundations, tend to last only a short time, then you likely have oily skin.
You will also have suffered from acne as a teenager, and your skin will have a particular 'look'. It will often appear shiny, and will also seem to have a coarse texture with larger pores than most others seem to have. You will tend to get a lot of blackheads, not only as a teenager.
Oily skin is classically associated with acne, and it is for those with that skin type that classic treatments will be prescribed, such as antibiotics and Accutane.
Apart from these three skin types, there are others that have been defined involving a combination of these and also age.
Sensitive skin is associated with broken blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin, and such skin types should be treated very carefully. If creams or lotions are applied to sensitive skin they should be rubbed in very gently as it could cause bruising.
Sensitive skin is no more susceptible to acne than most other skin types although significantly less so than oily skin. For that reason, treatments for sensitive skin should be similar to that for dry skin or in most cases normal skin.
Combination skin has an oily zone across the forehead, and down the nose and chin, the other areas of the face being normal or dry. Such skin can also be oily along the jaw line and normal to dry everywhere else. In such cases aggressive acne treatment might be necessary in the oily zones, and more mild treatments used in the areas which are normal.
There are three other classes or skin type based upon age or condition, one being mature skin and other ailing skin and the final type, surprise, surprise, being known as acne skin. Ailing skin is caused by skin conditions other than acne, and you should get the advice of a dermatologist if you believe you have this type of skin. Mature skin on the other hand is natural and occurs with age: the skin becomes slack and loose due to a slowing down of cell growth which causes the skin to lose elasticity. There is no cure for this type of skin other than cosmetic surgery, and it is rarely affected by acne.
Acne skin is normally oily and associated with blackheads, pimples and spots. It is not normally applied to serious acne conditions, being mostly associated with skin which is generally 'spotty', as opposed to mostly clear. It is debatable whether acne skin is any different from oily skin which also tends to be covered with spots and pimples, and the treatments for acne skin are no different to those for oily skin: these are Accutane, antibiotics and topical treatments such as face washes and scrubs.
If you have acne skin you must be careful about the type of cosmetics and face cleansers you use, since either could aggravate your condition. This is not restricted only to those with oily skins of course, since everyone should be aware of the effect of cosmetics and face cleansers on their skin but it is more significant with those who suffer from acne. Cosmetics cannot cause acne, but they can help to aggravate infections which have already occurred.
Although most focus is placed on those with oily skins which are more susceptible to acne, people with any type of skin should consider carefully the types of cosmetic and cleansers which they use. Contrary to what you may have heard or read, acne has nothing to do with your diet - eating fatty foods or chocolates do not cause acne, which is caused only through production of excess sebum, or skin oil, by the sebaceous glands.
Irrespective of your skin type your physician will determine the best treatment that is appropriate for your particular case of acne. This may be different for individuals and may or may not change according to skin type. Antiseptic face washes or scrubs may be appropriate for some acne cases, Accutane might be the best treatment for others, while a course of internal antibiotics such as tetracyclines may be deemed appropriate for yet other cases.
Treating acne has three distinct phases:
1. Removal of the blackheads and lesions. The removal of lesions can also involve a degree of scar removal, although that is another topic. Black heads, whiteheads and other papules can be treated by the use of facial cleansers and scrubs. They should not be squeezed since the puss inside them could be forced deeper into the skin and so lead to a more generalized infection.
2. Treatment of the bacterial infection. The typical symptoms of acne, the papules, whiteheads and blackheads, are caused by bacterial infection of the plug of sebum and dead skin cells within the sebaceous follicles. The general treatment for such infections is antibiotics, both topically and internally. Tetracycline has already been mentioned as a common internal antibiotic, and several forms of antibiotics are used in facial scrubs of which peroxides and benzoates may perhaps be rather severe for dry and sensitive skins.
3. The third phase is treatment of the causes of excessive sebum production. This is generally not entirely treatable since it is predominantly due to excessive hormonal activity at certain times of your life such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. However, your physician may offer treatments such as the contraceptive pill which should be used with care.
Other treatments include agents that aid desquamation, so preventing the irregular shedding of skin cells that lead to the mixture of sebum and dead skin cells that form the plug that is so easily affected by bacterial infection.
Together these three stages of acne treatment can, if not prevent the condition, certainly reduce its extent and have less of an effect on your skin, particularly if you are the off the oily skin type. Doctors will take your skin type into consideration when determining the best acne treatment for you, although all generally this will only be with respect to topical treatments: treatments that are applied to the surface of your skin.
There are also a number of herbal treatments which are used in the treatment of various stages of acne, and many sufferers find these equally as effective as the more traditional forms of topical applications as prescribed by physicians. However given that the treatment you use is safe according to your physician, any that works for you is the acne treatment that you should likely use, irrespective of your skin type.
Your Diet May Be What's Causing Your Acne
September 19, 2011 06:05 PM
Although dieticians and physicians maintain that diet does not cause acne, this is not strictly true. Even dermatologists argue the point, but while it is generally agreed that eating fatty foods or excessive quantities of chocolate will not in itself lead to acne, there are certain valid arguments that diet has a role to play. Recent research has shed new light on dietary factors that can help to promote acne symptoms, if not being the sole cause of them.
Before discussing that, it is important to understand why acne gives rise to the symptoms that it does: lesions in the form of whiteheads and blackheads, pustules and cysts. While not necessary to discuss the biochemical details, the part that your diet has to play will not be understood without considering the effect of hormones on acne.
The reason that teenagers in particular appear to be more prone to acne is that an increased production of hormones has an effect on the condition that causes the symptoms of acne. Fundamentally, acne is characterized by the infection and inflammation of a mass of oil and dead skin cells within the pores of the skin, particularly on the face, neck, chest buttocks and back. If we discuss each of these elements first, and how they are created, then the relationship between diet and acne will become clear.
At a certain time in their lives, people experience a spurt of growth and develop sexually. This is initiated by the secretion of hormones, particularly of male sex hormones collectively known as androgens, and by various hormonal 'Growth Factors'. This stage of human development is known as puberty, although there is also an increase in androgen secretion by the adrenal glands just before menstruation and during pregnancy and menopause. Androgens such as testosterone are reserved not only for the male of the species!
An effect of androgens is to increase the rate of secretion of sebum from the sebaceous glands in the skin. The reason for this is unknown, though it has been hypothesized that its purpose is to Waterproof the additional hair that is grown on the body at this time. Another suggested reason is as an olfactory warning to others to deter from sexual activity, in teenagers until their sexual development is complete, and in pre-menstrual, pregnant and menopausal women for obvious reasons. There is no substantial proof for any of these hypotheses, though the latter appears to make more sense than the former.
Irrespective of this, androgens also interfere with desquamation, and the dead skin cells within the pores tend to fall off irregularly and in clumps. This mix of dead skin cells and excess sebum clogs up the pores of the sebaceous follicles. Once this plug becomes infected with bacteria, the immune system is activated, inflammation occurs, and leukocyte action leads to pus formation. That is what is known as acne.
In order to determine how diet and acne are connected, it would be necessary to determine what components of our diet can either stimulate sebum production, or stimulate androgen secretion. If no such link could be found, then it would be fair to descry any connection between acne and the food you eat. However, there is a connection, and it is a positive one.
In addition to their main function, insulin and a hormone known as IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 that helps promote growth in children) promote the secretion of testosterone, a male hormone or androgen. Knowing, as we now do, that androgens promote the secretion of sebum, then anything that increases the levels of insulin or IGF-1 within the body will also lead to sebum production and hence to acne. What that infers is that any foodstuffs that increase the insulin levels in the blood can also lead to acne.
This inference is supported in many ways. For example, it has been found that while drinking milk promotes a greater risk of acne, eating yoghurt does not. Why is this? It is known that milk can increase insulin levels because of its high sugar content. The effect of bacterial activity to produce yoghurt reduces the amount of sugars in the milk it is made from because the bacteria live on the lactose. The same argument applies to cheese, which promotes lower insulin levels than milk, if not as low as yoghurt.
This being the case, then a diet low in sugars and carbohydrates should reduce the incidence of acne generally. Recent research has indicated that a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugar increases both IGF-1 and insulin levels in the blood. This then creates a surge in male hormones which in turn leads to excessive sebum secretion and intermittent shedding of skin cells and so on to the growth of bacteria and acne. It is a logical progression, supported both by theory and by observation.
So how should a person with a propensity for acne change their diet? Switch to fruits, vegetables and grains. Non-fatty meats are also acceptable, and .lots of fish and other seafood. Studies have concluded that diets rich in seafood lead to very low acne rates. The Japanese and coastal Chinese suffer very little acne in comparison with those taking a Western diet, particularly an American diet.
One of the reasons for this is that omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce both inflammation and sebum production. The same is true of green tea that contains antioxidants that reduce the blood levels of dihydotetosterone and hence of sebum secretion by the sebaceous glands. We could go on, and list supplement after supplement that contain antioxidants and other substances that can reduce the production of sebum and hence of the symptoms of acne.
Vegetable oils, on the other hand, with their high omega-6 fatty acid content, can drive up sebum production and the activity of the immune system and the inflammatory response. There are few doubts left that, while acne is not specifically caused by what you eat, diet can contribute to it and that acne and its severity can be eased by eating a diet low in carbohydrates and other sugar-promoting foods.
Natural Bar Soaps for the Kitchen and Bathroom
January 23, 2008 11:59 AM
Good natural bar soaps that contain only substances that are good for your skin are available, although most people pay little attention to them. Many people might be unaware of the fact but the skin is the largest organ of the body. As such, the skin needs taken care of just as much as any other major organ, yet few people pay much attention to what they bring into contact with it. Although a lot of money is spent on body products, do you really know what your skin needs for optimum health and what substances can do it harm?
Your skin carries out many functions other than keeping the bits inside that should be kept inside. It is a natural thermostat, containing the sweat glands that dampens it and allows evaporation to cool you down. It contains hairs and subcutaneous fat, both of which help you to remain warm when the external temperature is low. Your skin is designed to remain supple, and so allow free movement of the various parts of your body.
It is an ideal Waterproof covering for your body that also protects you from infection. Although infection can set in if the skin is ruptured through cuts or grazes, the skin itself rarely suffers from surface infections when related to the number of infectious agents it is constantly in contact with.
The health of your skin is very important, especially in view of the fact that it regularly comes into contact with some very hazardous substances. What may not have occurred to you is that one of the many functions of your skin is to eliminate some of the body’s waste products. It does this when you sweat and the toxins that are emitted can harm it. Although not often infected, it does suffer from complaints such as psoriasis, eczema and acne that are not primarily caused by bacterial agents or viruses, and hence not true infections.
These conditions, however, are caused largely through the emission of toxic agents through the sweat glands. Acne for instance is caused by excessive emission of sebum that combines with dead skin cells to form acne which can also become infected with bacteria. Psoriasis is the excessive formation of skin cells at too rapid a rate, the true causes of which are as yet unknown. Skin cells can become cancerous due to excessive exposure to sunlight or ultra violet radiation, and skin cancer is the most common type of cancer that your doctor is liable to come across.
If you suffer from any specific skin condition, such as acne, or even dry skin that can be caused through excessive exposure to degreasing agents or dry winds, then your skin will need special care. The soap you use is very important in the way you care for your skin, and many people will use soaps that contain many ingredients that they cannot pronounce let alone understand.
Your skin needs cleansed regularly since it comes into contact with many dangerous and toxic substances. Apart from the everyday pollution of traffic fumes and factory emissions, there are also the substances that contaminate your skin at work and at home. At home specially, domestic cleaners can be very harsh on your skin, consisting of substances that are intended to clean away greases and oils, the very types of substance that protect your skin from the elements. When you clean your oven or your sink without gloves, you also clean off the protective oily layer on your skin and leave it open to bacterial attack.
Your skin can also become sensitized to many substances, so that whenever it comes into contact with them it promotes an allergic reaction that can cause irritations so severe that your life can become very miserable. Many people are allergic to various types of soap or detergent because they have become sensitized to them, and are unable to use that type of cleanser after sensitization.
Many soaps contain active ingredients that are intended to carry out specific functions. Thus, some contain antibacterial agents to inhibit the growth of specific types of bacteria on your skin, while others contain detergents to improve their cleaning power. However, some detergents can be very harsh on your skin, and try to avoid bar soaps containing PEG-6 methyl ether or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). These can be harmful to your skin. There are others, and if your skin is sensitive try to avoid soaps containing animal products or petroleum derivatives.
Take tetrasodium EDTA, which is present in common bar soaps. It enhances the penetration of substances through your skin, which means that it can also enhance the penetration of the lees welcome ingredients in the soap as well as the moisturizers. Substances as sodium etidronate that is a synthetic preservative that might cause irritation to your skin and mucus membranes. There are several other synthetic detergents that are ingredients in bar soaps, and many kitchen soaps contain the same ingredients as personal or bathroom soaps, the difference between them being only in their moisturizer and perfume content.
Other ingredients than can cause potential problems are limonene, linalool and camphor, all of which can give rise to unwelcome conditions such as irritation or respiratory problems. The first two of these are common in bar soaps, as are benzaldehyde and benzyl alcohol which are irritants. Alpha-pinene, found in some bar soaps, is a sensitizer than can damage your immune system. Unless you know what a specific ingredient is, don’t use the soap. Instead you should use pure natural bar soaps containing antioxidants that are good for your skin.
A pure soap should contain the fat or oil that it is made from, good examples being coconut or palm oils, water, a water softener to enable the soap to cleanse the skin properly, an example being one of the penetrates, a moisturizer such as glycerine or lanolin and possibly a perfume derived from natural sources. Salt is also frequently used, and is a good bactericide.
Wherever possibly, you should choose a natural soap containing antioxidants. Citrus soaps, for example, contain vitamin C although many soaps contain antioxidants such as beta carotenes, vitamin A and vitamin E. Since soap consists of both oils and water, you can have both oil and water soluble antioxidants in your soap. The antioxidants help to protect your skin from the ravages of pollution and the effects of the sun’s rays, both of which generate free radicals that can accelerate the aging and wrinkling of your skin.
A good antioxidant, moisturizer and wetting agent in your bar soap will help to protect your skin from the effects of atmospheric pollutants, the drying effect of the sun and wind and also effectively cleanse the skin surface and pores of everyday dirt. If this is associated with an absence of synthetic chemicals that can cause irritation then you will be giving your skin the best protection that you can. This is true of soaps intended either for the kitchen or the bathroom.