What Causes Acne?
Despite what you may have heard growing up, acne isn't caused by eating too much chocolate or exercising poor hygiene. Instead, blemishes tend to develop due to an overproduction of oil and the skin’s inability to shed dead cells quickly enough. A tendency toward developing acne can also be genetic and may be inherited from your parents. When your pores get plugged with oil, bacteria grows inside the blocked hair follicles. These bacteria multiply beneath the skin and cause pimples. Depending on the severity of your acne, you may be prone only to smaller blackheads or to larger whiteheads.
Over-the-Counter Acne Medications
If your acne is mild to moderate, then there are a number of over-the-counter topical acne medications your dermatologist may recommend. The most common active ingredients found in these products are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid--two acne-fighting agents that work in different ways.
How Does Benzoyl Peroxide Work?
Benzoyl peroxide is effective at killing the P. acnes bacteria (the bacteria responsible for acne blemishes). It also has exfoliating properties (helps to shed dead skin cells) and can assist in regulating excess oil. Available in lotion and gel forms, this agent has been trusted by dermatologists for decades and is available over the counter in concentrations up to 10 percent.
How Does Salicylic Acid Help Acne?
Salicylic acid is another effective ingredient used to treat acne. It works by helping unclog pores and reducing inflammation and redness. This medication may be more effective at reducing the risk of future breakouts than it is at treating existing pimples.
In addition to the products containing active ingredients approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne, you can also find a number of natural and alternative products on drugstore.com. These products contain botanicals that may help reduce the appearance of acne.
Can Tea Tree Oil Help Acne?
One very common ingredient in natural formulas is tea tree oil, which has antiseptic properties that may reduce bacteria. While more research is necessary to prove that tea tree oil is effective against acne, some small studies have shown promising results.
Other plant products like aloe vera, calendula, and witch hazel may also help moisturize skin and reduce some of the redness and irritation caused by acne breakouts.
How do Pore Strips Work?
Another popular type of alternative blemish product is the pore-cleansing strip that can help remove oil, dirt, and blackheads from the pores on your nose. To use, simply wet the strip and apply it to the nose, making sure to adhere all surfaces of the strip to the skin. Allow the strip to dry for the stated amount of time on the directions. Then gently remove the strip. You’ll be amazed at what comes out of your pores!
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you apply a small amount of any over the counter acne medication to one or two small affected areas for 3 days when using it for the first time. This will help you to make sure you don’t exhibit any hypersensitivity symptoms before using the product more broadly. If no discomfort occurs, be sure to follow the directions on the label and review the Drug Facts.
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