There is hardly anyone other than a person with acne who would wish to have military grade anti-acne arsenal creams and potions with them… Yes… the acne prone skin is considered the toughest to take care of. You may suddenly one day wake up with more zits on your face before you could have won the battle with marks of old pimples.. they attack any time of the year unannounced, mostly before that momentous event you have been waiting for since long.. It seems to be an endless battle !!! And what worse… Acne once considered a disease of puberty and adolescents is increasingly becoming an adult issue. Adult acne is the reality our millennial generation has to come to terms with. Blame our stressful and erratic work schedules, lack of adequate sleep & exercise, faulty and adulterated diets and sometimes just plain bad genes ( Acne does runs in families!! )
Acne is a common attribute of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome aka PCOS which is often called metabolic syndrome of young people and a predicament to diabetes.
Luckily though when it comes to treatment and care of acne prone skin all is not gloomy, and there are so many good skincare options, medical therapies, and lasers available for both active acne and acne scars. With proper selection of skincare and treatments, acne can be tackled effectively. When selecting skincare for acne, specific ingredients with proven anti-acne actions should be looked for. These ingredients are present in most prescription anti-acne medicines but are an active agent in lower doses in anti-acne skin care, e.g., face washes, lotions, and creams.
1. Salicylic acid: it’s a beta hydroxy acid which has a keratolytic action ( breaks the upper oily sebum-rich layer of skin ) that contributes to its anti-acne properties. It helps in resurfacing the skin, lightens the dark spots and tightens open pores. It is a constituent of various over the counter aka OTC preparations as well as prescription medicines in the concentration of 1-2%. A higher concentration solution 20-30% is used as an in-office use chemical peel for acne patients by dermatologists. A natural source to look for in skincare is “witch hazel extract” which is salicylic acid in composition. Great for mild to moderate acne. Salicylic acid is the main constituent in Vichy Normaderm range and Dermalogica’s Clear Start range.
2. Tea tree oil: tea tree oil has long been revered as an anti-acne medication and is a part of many OTC preparations as well as a constituent of anti-acne skincare range from reputed brands. It’s commonly incorporated in face washes, soaps, lotions and spot treatment for acne. It works well in mild acne. The tea tree range from The Body Shop has many incredible options to choose from.
3. Niacinamide: It is a potent anti-inflammatory and depigmenting agent that works beautifully in diminishing the active acne lesions and the marks from old acne. It’s a component of various anti-acne medications and few creams and lotions as well.
4. Glycolic acid: It is again a peeling agent that resurfaces skin and lightens the dark spots. Mostly available in face washes, toners and night creams. It’s a very good ingredient to look for once your acne has settled down and the stubborn marks are still there. Bioderma White objective range has glycolic acid with vitamin C. An affordable option is Glyco -6 & 12 cream available as a prescription medicine.
5. Azelaic acid: it’s a new ingredient that works on active acne as well as dark spots. It’s available as a prescription medicine in India in the strength is 10-20%. Foreign skincare brands like The Ordinary and Skinceuticals have products with azelaic acid in their range
6. Zinc: Oral zinc has long been revered as an anti-acne therapy given its epithelial stabilizing abilities. Topical zinc too has some zit fighting capability, La Roche Posay Serozinc mist and Avene thermal spring water are wonderful options.
7. Mandelic acid : also known as oil of bitter almonds, mandelic acid is a peeling agent that works both on active acne and acne marks. It’s employed as an in-office chemical peel and has recently been introduced in face washes, e.g., Mandisa facewash by Indiabulls and Menarini’s Acnelak face wash.
While there is no dearth of anti-acne skincare in the market, the trick lies in the layering of products and the combinations to avoid. It becomes even more tricky if you are on prescription medicines like retinoids ( Tretinoin, e.g., Retino A and Adapalene aka Adaferin ) and Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) for higher grades of acne. That’s where your dermatologist can help you immensely in choosing the right skincare for you individually. Like if you are using a retinoid, it’s better to avoid salicylic acid based skin products as together they can cause over exfoliation and red irritated over sensitive skin. Also combining two peeling agents like glycolic acid and mandelic acid or even tea tree oil is a bad idea. Hence it becomes imperative that the skincare is chosen wisely and individually. Nevertheless with so many options available now, taking care of pimple prone skin shouldn’t be a daunting task anymore.
Dr Ankita Sangwan
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