Acne, an annoyance skin disease that is to some extent influenced by hormonal changes within your body and can negatively impact your self-esteem and confidence. While acne cannot be cured completely there are steps we can take to prevent outbreaks and to control or prevent recurring.


Acne is one of the skin problems attack mostly young generations within the age group of 20 to 24. Its occurrence is influenced by hormonal changes within one’s body. Heredity, hormonal imbalance, personal hygiene, smoking, nutritional deficiency, stress, oily skin or hair, medications and the use of certain cosmetic products which contain vegetable oil and chemical substances are always viewed as elements that may influence the development of acne.



Sebaceous glands in the human skin produce an oily substance called sebum which helps lubricate skin and hair. While sebum is flowing onto the external part of the skin surface, dead skin cells are simultaneously eliminated from the pore lining. Nevertheless, when sebaceous glands produce sebum in excess, a pore gets clogged up and blocked the dead skin cells or serum from flow out of the pore. This situation causes swelling around the pore and the resultant inflammation because of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes) being trapped inside the clogs.


Common acne is termed as acne vulgaris medically and it consists of closed and opened comedones. There are basically a few types of acnes.


Acne Rosacea is seen occurred among middle-aged adults. It results in a formation of inflamed bumps around the chin, cheeks, nose, or forehead which remains on the victim, seldom clearing up and over time may cause a bulbous nose in males.


Perioral Dermatitis refers to the presence of tiny papules (red bumps), scaling, and pustules (or pus-filled yellowish bumps) appearing around the eyelids, chin, mouth and forehead, which is usually happens to young females.


The occurrence of Corticosteroid acne is normally linked to the use of corticosteroids (a common drug reaction happens among teens) and other drug like dehydroepiandrosterone with the case of nasty pustular acne appearing around thighs, chest, face, back and arms accompanying with thinning of scalp hair, cessation of menstruation being reported.


Acne Excoriee des Jeunes Filles is a minimal acne lesions on the face occuring among the younger girls when they squeeze and press the pimples with their fingers trying to get rid of this skin disorder.


Of all, Cystic acne is the most severe form of acne which can cause scarring to the face.

The most effective approach to treat acne is when the attack is mild. While acne cannot be cured, this skin disease still can be controlled and reduced and one shouldn’t view it as a scary “scars”. Generally, there are many ways to combat acne or even prevent its recurrence by employing over-the-counter (OTC) products available in the pharmacy, dietary therapy, laser therapy, combination therapy, Chinese herbs and so on. If one of this methods doesn’t work for you or is not suitable for you, just try another and so forth.

Dietary Therapy

Although there is no direct result of food in the formation of acne, improper diet can aggravate one’s existing condition. When your kidneys and liver are burdened with lots of workload or/and stress, excessive toxins are more likely to be expelled from the skin appearing as acnes. To reduce/prevent the formation of acnes, you should cut out oily and spicy food, chocolate, beef, red meat, sea food, dairy products, yogurt and most of the processed and canned foods. Avoid refined flours, hydrogenated oils and fatty fried foods which may aggravate the acne condition.

You should omit foods loaded with sugar (such as ice cream, pies, cookies, donuts) and nuts (such as walnut, almonds, brazil nuts) that promote the formation of acne or worsen the acne condition. Having a healthier diet will certainly improve your acne condition. Olive oil or sesame oil, berries (such as cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), whole-wheat meals and low-fat dairy products are foods ideal for skin health. Drinking organic green tea or wheat grass juice also helps prevent fine lines, and is good for the health of skin cells.

Try eating a healthy and natural foods with a diet that consists of fruits and vegetables (such as mung beans, winter squash) as these foods contain essential nutrients like vitamin A and carotene to help improve skin health. Too much androgens can be a main culprit for acne breakouts, so try eating wolfberry fruit and soybean which have estrogen-like effect to help balance the production of androgen in excess. Also, drink plenty amount of water to help nourish blood-toxins which may cause skin eruptions. Probiotics, olive oil and green tea extract are also a better choice to stop acne breakouts and for skin health.

Note: Even after your acne has been cleared, you still have to watch what you eat and drink.

AHA & BHA

Both Alphahydroxy acids (AHA) and Betahydroxy acids (BHA) are very effective options in the treatment of various types of acnes. They are used in different concentrations and can effectively help to soften as well as to loosen clogged, thick pores. Even though they are very effective in the treatment of acnes, they must be used with other preparations and in combination with each other. Many acne products available at the pharmacies also contain BHA’s or/and AHA’s.

Vitamin A Derivatives

Tretinoin is one of the most common form of vitamin A derivatives used to treat acne and it can be used either as oral or topical prescription medicine. Besides Tretinoin, Isotretinoin is another form of vitamin A derivative marketed as “Accutane”.

Tretinoin acts to promote drainage by reducing blockage of the oil glands. However, the use of Tretinoin may cause dryness or increase the sensitivity to the affected area since some patients have experienced burning sensation and some of them even have scaling, itching and redness. The other adverse effect of Tretinoin may increase skin sensitivity to the sun, causing the patients to rely on sunscreen products to help avoid exposure to the sun rays.

Warning: Pregnant moms are strictly prohibited to use this option for treatment of acne because it may cause birth defect.

Application of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are anti-bacterial chemicals used to kill bacteria (bactericidal) and are also prescribed in the form of oral medication or as creams (topical application) for acne treatment. Oral antibiotics have a varied pharmacological approach as compared to topical antibiotics. After absorbing through the intestines, oral antibiotics get into the bloodstream and then they go into the skin to attack the bacteria “from the inside” that causes clogged pores and acne lesions. Unlike antiseptics and topical antibiotics, they are not hindered by the limited penetration caused by the clogged hair follicles, hence they are highly effective.

Clindamycin such as “Dalacin-C” cream is used to treat acne since the bacteria that causes acne lesions is sensitive to this antibiotic. Topical antibiotics do not have good penetration into acne lesions. In addition, long-term used of topical antibiotics can cause skin allergic reactions and can also cause the bacteria to become resistant to these antibiotics.

Tetracyclines are available as topical creams or are prescribed for oral treatment in moderate to severe acnes. They help inhibit bacteria activity and growth. Oral Tetracyclines tend to be effective between 3-6 months but not for prolong use as this oral treatment can lead into the bacteria becoming resistant to these antibiotics; hence its limitated effectiveness. In addition, Oral Tetracyclines can cause adverse effect of gastrointestinal disturbances such as abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and may also kill off good bacteria that are responsible for the well-being of the digestive system.

Metronidazole is another antibiotic prescribed to treat various types of acne condition if the patient found that Tetracycline is ineffective. In comparison, Metronidazole can effectively inhibit or prevent bacteria activity and growth. Nevertheless, Metronidazole has been observed to cause cancer, headache, insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, difficulty to urinate and poor appetite.

If other antibiotics are not effective in treating acnes, erythromycin or trimetoprim-sulfamethoxazole may also be prescribed. Oral antibiotics may help clear off the acne problem but all antibiotics do not have a property to prevent recurrence of acne.

Warning: Pregnant moms are strictly prohibited to use this option for treatment of acne because it may cause unexpected birth defect.

Laser Therapy

A laser therapy is a form of acne treatment that includes many light-based therapies and is always wielded by skilled and professional personnel. This laser therapy works by focusing on the bacteria, P.acne, that causes acne inflammation and also by reducing oil production through causing damage to the sebaceous glands.

Since this treatment is very costly, it is not recommended for most teenagers who would like to get of their acnes.

Combination Alternatives

Combination alternatives make use of both an oral prescription (usually antibiotics) and a topical product. This is regarded as an ideal approach since oral antibiotics get absorbed to attack acne from the inside while topical products work on acne from outside to better treat acne.

This treatment includes either topical tretinoin and oral antibiotics or benzoyl peroxide and oral antibiotics but the shortcoming of this approach is that its limitation in penetrating through the clogs and development of resistance of P. acne bacteria towards antibiotics.

Chinese Herbal Treatment

Chinese herbs have long been known for their lack of side effects, and are good to expel excess heat, improve “qi” circulation, relieve stress, promote healthy bowel movement, detoxify toxins in the blood, reduce swelling and stimulate cell metabolism.

There are three Chinese herb formulas used to treating acne. Formula (1): 9g of peach kernel (or tao ren), 9g of seagrass, 30g or Job’s tears, 9g of kelp and some sea salt as seasonings; formula (2): sileris root (or fang feng), gardenia (or zhi zi), Japanese catnip (or jing jie), scutellaria (or huang qin), peony (or shao yao), unripe aurantium (rind) (or zhi shi), licorice (or gan cao), forsythia (or lian qiao), angelica root (or dang gui), dahurian angelica (or bai zhi), ligusticum (or chuan xiong), platycodon (or jie geng) and bupleurum (or chai hu) with 8g each; formula (3): 20g of forsythia (or lian qiao), 15g of amur cork tree bark (or huang bai), 25g of Chinese Wolfberry root bark (or dig u pi), 25g of figwort root (or xuan sen), 20g of densefruit pittany root bark (or bai xian pi), 25g of dandelion (or pu gong ying), 15g of pine pollen (or song hua fen), 50g of honeysuckle flower (or jin yin hua), 25g of portule herb (or ma chi xian), 25g of belvedere fruit (or di fu zi), 40g of Job’s tear seed and 25g of peony tree bark (or mu dan pi).

Choose one of the herb formulas stated above and do the following steps to prepare Chinese herbal tea:

First, put the herbs in one lidded earthenware pot. Next, add some water to the pot until the water level is slightly higher than the herbs. Let the water boil and then change the fire to low heat for an additional 20-30 minutes before removing it from the stove. Use a sieve to strain the herbs to about a cup and drink while it is still warm.

You should drink a cup of this herbal tea a day for 60 days straight. If you’re on any medication, please make sure you drink this herbal tea two or three hours after your medication.

Warning: Certain individuals may experience minor side effects including vomiting, dizziness, allergic reactions (or skin rash), diarrhea or/and nausea. If you’re experiencing this problem, please stop the intake of this herbal tea.

Pregnant and breast-feeding moms are discouraged from taking this herbal tea.

Application of Antiseptics

Antiseptics are a group of chemicals primary used to either kill bacteria (bactericidal) or inhibit bacteria (bacteriostatic). One of its common examples is Chlorhexidine or Hexachlorophene. This chemical is used as a disinfectant to help inhibit bacterial activity and growth. It’s also a compound used in most anti-acne face wash products since it’s very effective in reducing and inhibiting bacterial activity and growth. The downside of this chemical is that it cannot penetrate deep into acne lesions to help kill bacteria inside the clogged hair follicles; hence its limited effectiveness.

Another antiseptic which is used as an exfoliation agent (helps remove dead cells) and kills bacteria is Benzoyl peroxide. It is usually incorporated into acne medication in the form of lotion, cream or gel, and it may also be used together with sulphur or an anti-bacterial chemical. “Pro-active” and “OXY” are acne products that are using Benzoyl peroxide as an active ingredient. Even though Benzoyl peroxide products are very effective in killing bacteria that cause acne inside the clogged hair follicles, it has poor penetration through the clogs to kill bacteria inside the hair follicles that are the primary causes of acne lesions. Benzoyl peroxide products are not recommended to those who have sensitive skins and they may cause adverse effects such as dryness and redness.

Thousands of years ago, Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil was traditionally used by the Australian aborigines used as natural plant oil that has been proven to have good antibacterial properties especially in killing bacteria such as P.acnes. However, like Benzoyl peroxide, Chlorhexidine or Hexachlorophene, tea tree oil has a limited penetration into the hair follicles in acne because of the clogs that are blocking entry into hair follicles.

Acne Management

You should keep in mind that acnes cannot be cured completely. Although you take prescription medicine and the acne cleared from your face, they might be a recurrence due to the hormonal changes and other reasons. Menopausal females and pregnant moms as well who are on hormonal replacement therapy can even have breakouts.

Apart from the treatments suggested, there are some important reminders to help you better combat with acnes as follow:

Whenever possible, try using natural products that can reduce oil production. Most of the non-oily facial products that contain Echinacea or tea tree oil are also good to reduce/prevent acne breakouts.

Avoid using those face care products that contain vegetable oil and synthetic chemicals or any facial products that have chemical ingredients of sodium chloride, parabens, isopropyl palmitate, socetyl stearate, isopropyl myristate, isopropyl isostearate as these chemicals can cause acne lesions. Remember to read the product labels carefully and consult a pharmacist or a doctor if you have any question or you are experiencing any side effects after using the product.

Since oil is a main culprit for the formation of clogs, you’re advised not to use any oily hair including hair gels or cosmetic products. Nowadays, many teenagers prefer their cool-looking spiky hair-do, but their faces are decorated with many terrible acne lesions.

To avoid your face becoming loaded with holes and pits, do not squeeze your pimples with your fingers. In a severe case, you pimples may be infected with pathogenic bacteria and may also exacerbate the condition of your acne lesion.

You should get enough sleep and relaxation. For most adults, they need 7-8 hours of good night sleep. Having not enough sleep or sleep deprivation can add stress to the body and thus causing fine lines and dark circles appearing around the eyes and acne lesion on the surface of the facial skin. In addition, sleep deprivation can cause hormonal imbalance and thereby adding pressure on the sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum, and worst still, acne may also breakout.

As Aloe Vera has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, use Aloe Vera extract to help heal the acne scars.

Use anti-bacterial soap to wash your face at least twice a day, especially in the morning and before you go to bed. After each washing, apply some non oil-based moisturizer onto your face to help dehydrate your face. Do not touch your face with your dirty hands, but make sure you wash them thoroughly before touching your face.

Final remark:

As I mentioned earlier, it is always wiser to treat acnes while they are mild. Acnes, however, should not be scary, as it can be controlled by some of the suggested methods here. Also, many products are available at the retail pharmacies to help combat acne. Please seek a doctor’s appropriate advice and approval prior to deciding on which alternative suits you best.

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