Friday, 24 August 2012

Answers to some questions from readers about pimples


 A few readers have asked me questions about acne - I thought I'd share my answers here :)

What's the fastest way to get rid of a huge pimple?

A cortisone injection from a dermatologist. This will even get rid of those massive hard lumps under the skin that usually take forever to go away on their own! Most pimples after treatment will flatten out in 1-3 days. As handy as it is, it's not recommended that this be done regularly (it can wreak havoc on your hormones) - save it for night-before-the-prom type emergencies. The price varies but it'll set you back $50-100 per jab.


What causes acne?

Acne forms when pores become blocked with sebum and dead cells, and often these blockages are invaded by bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, which leads to inflammation (redness and pus). This usually happens due to hormones called androgens (such as testosterone) which cause the skin to product more sebum - these hormones increase drastically during puberty. Additionally, genetics, diet, smoking, stress, environment, medication, hormonal fluctuations (e.g. menstrual cycle or disorders) and pregnancy can also play a role for particular individuals.


What's better - benzoyl peroxide or antibiotic cream?

Overall - benzoyl peroxide. Firstly, it doesn't encourage antibiotic resistance, which is when the antibiotics kill all the weak bacteria, leaving the strong bacteria to multiply and make strong bacteria babies, and the antibiotics won't work anymore. Bacteria don't ever become immune to BP. Secondly, BP doesn't just kill bacteria - it also helps reduce sebum production and encourages shedding of skin. BP is more commonly used with mild to moderate acne, and is available over the counter, whereas you need a prescription for the antibiotics in most countries. However, combining antibiotics and BP avoids the problem of antibiotic resistance and can be more effective - ask your doctor if you're not sure what's right for you.


Does UV light improve acne?

The results are mixed as to what effect UV light has, but it doesn't work as well as topical creams, plus topical creams aren't going to give you cancer or age your skin like UV light will!



References

JJ Leyden. A review of the use of combination therapies for the treatment of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol 2003, 49, S200.

A Nast et al. Guideline on the therapy of acne. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 2010, 8, S1.

AF Taub. Procedural treatments for acne vulgaris. Dermatol Surg 2007, 33, 1005.

13 comments:

  1. Thx so much for this!! What is your take on salicylic acid vs benzoyl peroxide?

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    1. BP is mainly bactericidal and BHA is mainly keratolytic (chemical exfoliant), even though they both do a bit of each - go for the one that has the action you want. Both BP and BHA work best as a leave-on treatment.

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  2. This was interesting - I was wondering if you knew much about the hard lumps (millia) I don't really get zits at all, but 've had millia for years - one comes out every once in a while but I always seem to have about the same amount on my face. I've got loads. I know you can have injections or have a dermatologist pick the out properly, but I've got so many it's pointless. I was wondering if there's something you know of that can treat them/prevent them? xxx
    Island Girl Insights ♥

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    1. I'll have to research that further and get back to you! Definitely a good topic for a future post :)

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  3. Hey, just some esthetician thoughts on your points... Cortisone injections don't actually "get rid" of pimples, they just quickly reduce inflammation at a cost. The pimple will likely reappear, unless it was a total anomaly. Benzoyl Peroxide is usually used at WAY too high a concentration (à la Clearisil and Oxy, which are not good), and should be used at extremely low concentrations to be effective and prevent inflammation in the skin.

    I personally don't ever support using antibiotics for acne, so thanks for telling people why topical antib's are bad!

    Re: UV light, there is no benefit to acne. It can temporarily dry out the skin, making it seem like oil/acne has been reduced, but simultaneously causes inflammation in the skin which, once the skin recovers from exposure, ultimately makes acne worse. However, some people get confused about the blue LED light treatments that are out now, thinking that blue LED is like UV light, which, as I'm sure you know, it isn't.

    Great post. :)

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  4. LOL, I cracked up over that cute drawing, too funny Michelle!!

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  5. Awesome post! I really like the drawing. A few months ago I was having a weird case of breakouts and I am not the type to ever have acne (even as a teenager!)...luckily it's been better lately (but not how it used to be :() Thanks for the info :)

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  6. I'm just so mad that I have to use anti-acne and anti-wrinkle products at the same time! Lol.

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  7. @Maria - Thanks, I'm pretty proud of being able to do my own drawings now! And all without a tablet :)

    @sandipalien - I'm having a few weird breakouts at the moment actually... but I know the culprit. Heavy foundation makes my skin throw a tantrum!

    @Pink Pamalamma - Haha! That's unfortunate, but not uncommon :(

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  8. Love the picture! Thanks for this post, super informative. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! It's an accurate depiction of me I think ;)

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  9. Hm, what would a 1% hydrocortisone cream do?

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