Adult Acne is a difficult nut to crack, but treatments that address the root causes of acne beg further exploration. These treatments depart company with conventional treatments by allying with instead of fighting against, our good friend mother nature.
We have had considerable success in the adult acne battle, and because our treatments are nature friendly they do not accelerate the aging process as so many harsh anti-acne treatments do. Let’s take a look at how our alternative treatments address the various causes of acne as they apply to adults.
Since acne starts with sebum, it makes sense that a safe and effective way to control acne would depend on finding a way to regulate sebum production. Previous attempts to deal with this problem have focused on controlling surface sebum (the so-called “oily skin” phenomenon) by attacking it with harsh cleansers or drying it up with sebostatics like azelaic acid. But by then it is too late, as blemishes have already formed.
We know that reducing oil production at the source works, because one of the most successful acne treatments available today is Accutane, which reduces oil production by shrinking oil glands. But the side effects of Accutane can be daunting. Fortunately, new studies have emerged which point to pantothenic acid as a promising, safe and natural alternative. Pantothenic acid regulates sebum production by helping one’s body metabolize the fats that produce sebum.
Inflammation causes the skin to age, so the last thing we want to do is subject our skins to anything that may aggravate inflammation. This means wearing sun protection year round, yes, but it doesn’t stop there. Many so called anti-aging treatments that strip off layers of skin are just not for you if you are battling acne.
Too much exfoliation leaves the skin vulnerable to sun damage, and can cause irritation leading to inflammation. Besides exfoliating at every opportunity, acne sufferers are urged to avoid oils at all costs. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to use oils on oily skin, the best way to moderate excess sebum in adults is by applying oils that keep skin balanced, healthy and glowing. Oils are great for deep cleaning because they penetrate and get to the source of impacted matter (dead cell and sebum buildup). They are able to dissolve impactions because oils dissolve oils.
Conventional treatments tend to address the big contributors to teenage acne, i.e., excess skin cell production and P. acnes, but sadly, these treatments work less well for most adults. It often happens that with few choices available to them adults settle for treatments that add insult to injury by simultaneously delivering poor results and accelerating the aging process.
Adults deserve better information as well as a wider range of options so they can make wiser decisions when it comes to treating their problem skin. Let’s take a look at what treatment options presently available either work well for adults or should be avoided.
When cell turnover rate exceeds the every 28 day cycle excess skin cells plug follicles, creating microcomedos. In the absence of inflammation, microcomedoes look like whiteheads and blackheads. A common treatment to reduce development of these microcomedos uses topical comedolytics, which work by helping the skin to shed more effectively, keeping the pores from becoming plugged. Typical comedolytics are retinoids like Retin-A or beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid.
As we age cell turnover rate starts to slow down, and in this case retinoids like Retin-A and Renova are often prescribed for their anti-aging benefits, the idea being that exfoliation stimulates collagen production and brings cell turnover rate up to earlier levels. While many people note benefits like softer and smoother skin from using Retin-A overuse can cause redness, peeling, dryness, itching, and a burning or tingling sensation. Use of retinoids during the day should be avoided as interaction with UV can exacerbate skin irritation.
A The EWG warns that some studies show retinoids increase growth rate of skin tumors, and recommend avoiding them, particularly in sunscreen. Be sure to maintain year round sun protection as well, as any exfoliater will increase susceptibility to sun damage.
Over time, microcomedos can fill with P acnes and become inflamed. The follicular walls swell, diffuse through tissue and produce enzymes that aggravate inflammation, thus attracting more bacteria. The upshot of all this activity can be a full-on break out. The problem with initial bacterial invasion is that sets up conditions for persistent cycles of infection and reinfection, which explains why many anti-acne treatments center around combating P acnes with topical medications, or if that doesn’t work, with oral antibiotics.
Benzoyl peroxide remains effective against P acnes, unlike other some other antimicrobials for which P acnes has developed resistance. Studies show that benzoyl peroxide has keratolytic properties which complement its antimicrobial activity, enabling it to treat deeper, more inflammatory lesions. While BP is often prescribed for adults we do not recommend it because benzoyl peroxide generates free radicals that interfere with new skin cell formation and slow the healing process. A famous study cites its tumor inducing potential in rats, and BP is known to compromise the stratum corneum of the skin by exposing it to oxidative stress, much like UV exposure. This sets the stage for such skin aging events as barrier disruption and inflammation.
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