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(Ask Your Pharmacist) Simple lifestyle changes can prevent acne

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By Adaku Efuribe

Ask Your Pharmacist

What is the Treatment for Acne? In this brief update on Acne, I will be sharing with you the definition, causes/ symptoms of acne; possible treatments and lifestyle advice to help manage acne.

What it is: Acne as a very common skin condition characterised by comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and pus-filled spots (pustules).

Acne develops when the skin starts to react abnormally to the male hormone testosterone, which every male and female has in varying amounts. During the teen years the levels of testosterone shoot up, which causes body hair to develop and makes the skin, produce more oil (sebum) in the skin. At the same time, the skin pores from where the oil is normally secreted start to narrow and become blocked with a plug of protein called keratin.

The bacteria that live naturally on the skin break down this oil producing substances that cause irritation, redness and swelling.’

Causes and symptoms: The exact cause of acne is unknown, but family history  increases susceptibility. Acne can flare up before menstruation, during pregnancy and  menopause.  Certain foods may cause flare-ups.

Acne can be a side effect of drugs including tranquilisers, antidepressants, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and anabolic steroids.

Personal hygiene is essential. Abrasive soaps, hard scrubbing, or picking at pimples will make them worse. Avoid oil-based cosmetics  that worsen acne by clogging the pores. Exposure to oils and greases, polluted air, and sweating in hot weather could aggravate acne, just as emotional stress may contribute to acne.

Treatment – If you suffer from pimples speak to your local pharmacist, there are a host of OTC (over the counter) remedies to manage it, in the form of  gels, creams, facial washes and oral medication.

Your pharmacist will be able to recommend a suitable product for you and give you advice on how to use the products to get the full benefit from them.

Acne treatment consists of reducing sebum production, removing dead skin cells, and killing bacteria with topical drugs and oral medications.

Topical antibiotic medications include antibiotics such as erythromycin.

Oral antibiotics: could be prescribed for moderate to severe forms of acne. In most countries oral antibiotics are prescription only medicines. Your pharmacist will advise you on the dosage regimen and possible side effects of your antibiotic treatment during the dispensing process.

Lifestyle advise to help manage Acne

Acne is not curable, but can be managed by long term treatment that will in turn reduce  manifestation and prevent scaring.

The following steps may be taken to minimise flare-ups:

*Wash affected area in the morning and before bed time using a medicated facial wash as recommended by your pharmacist or doctor

*Use oil-free makeup and moisturisers

*Eat a well-balanced diet, to improve your well-being

*Do not pick or squeeze spots as this will eventually lead to scaring

*Reduce stress and stressful situations by practicing relaxation techniques like yoga and mild exercise.

* Adhere to your dosage regimen/direction for application of topical medication to get the best out of your treatment.

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