Facts on treatment of teenage acneJan 9, 2001 Write an essay on this topic.
Have you ever wondered what the most common reason for insecurity in teenagers is? As you might guess from the topic, the answer is Acne.
One breakout noticed in the morning is very often the difference between your teen being sullen and moody versus bright and cheery that day. It is an unfortunate fact of life that today's culture places a high influence on a person's looks and Acne or lack thereof, is sometimes a very important component of this.
Acne is most commonly caused by certain types of bacteria that thrive on the surface of skin. Many of these bacteria such as Propionium Bacterium and Staphylococcus Epidermis represent normal composition of your skin flora but under certain conditions, they grow at a pace such that your body recognizes it as a foreign invasion and secretes inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins in order to fight this. This inflammation is usually what produces the characteristic eruptions that pimples are unfortunately noted for.
What are the conditions that cause this over-proliferation of bacteria. The most common cause is oily skin. This can for one, be due to the excessive hormones being secreted during the teenage years. It has been also postulated and documented that certain auto-immune conditions may be to blame as well. Given all this, the different treatments on the market today (both OTC (over the counter) and prescription drugs) aim at combating different aspects of this condition.
Perhaps the best known OTC drug is Benzoyl Peroxide (usually 2%) and it is probably the most common ingredient found in most Clearasil and Oxy tubes. This acid is effective because it serves a dual purpose. First, it destroys bacterial flora and secondly it helps to dry out the inflammatory pores that have produced the breakout. As a result of this, one of its negative aspects is that it causes over drying of the skin and does not produce a prolonged cure. Thus, most users might find that although their Acne cleared to an extent, unless they kept on using it, it would continue to reappear.
Another common OTC drug is Salicylate. This is a derivative of Aspirin and functions as an anti-inflammatory drug which reduces your body's exaggerated response to the over-proliferation. Thus, although its acid properties may have some effect on killing bacterial skin flora, the main action is simply to control the extent of the breakout. This drug is most commonly found in face washes.
Alternatively, Glycolic Acid has also been employed in the prevention and control of acne. One useful advantage of Glycolic Acid is that it promotes the shedding of your skin. What use is this you might ask? Well for one, your skin will not be given a chance to produce the oil that bacteria love so much. Glycolic Acid products are usually more expensive than other non-prescription drugs and instead of being found at your local drugstore, they are usually marketed online and on TV. Proactive is the brand that comes to mind here.
The "vitamins", usually Retin-A, have anti-oxidant properties that have also proved useful in some cases.
The last major group of drugs that help control acne are probably the most powerful and these are the Anti-microbials. Anti-microbials are, as the name suggests, drugs that fight bacteria and other micro-organisms. Of these, only Triclosan is available in non-prescription form. Triclosan is a generalized anti-microbial (i.e.- works on most bacteria) and helps to control the growth of bacteria. It is found in some face washes.
As far as prescription anti-microbials go, the main two drugs currently prescribed are Minocycline and Vancomycin. However most anti-microbials work and if you've suffered from Acne, you may have noticed that when you are sick and you're on Penicillin, Amoxycillin or another antibiotic, your face cleared up for a while. If you want to be rid of acne at least for the duration of the treatment, these drugs are as close to a guarantee as you can get. However like most good things, there is a price to pay.
There are some rare but serious potential side effects that can occur, as with most prescription drugs. Minocycline has been known to cause bone and teeth defects while vancomycin can cause what is known as "red man syndrome". Also, if you've ever had staphylococcus food poisoning or Toxic Shock Syndrome, you would know that Vancomycin is very expensive so prolonged treatments can run up a massive bill. Finally, you cannot be on anti-microbial treatment forever since bacterial resistance is far more likely to develop and you are liable to get complications when you take antibiotics for another illness.
Unfortunately all this does not paint a pretty picture does it? The best way to try to combat teenage acne is first to start fighting it early. When your child gets his/her first pimples, take the necessary steps to ensure that it is treated. Bacteria, like misery, loves company so if you can control the outbreaks early on in life, it will diminish outbreaks in the future. Plus, your child should also get into the habit of using the proper medicated face washes regularly. One of the easiest ways to prevent more Acne is to wash the face regularly especially if you have oily skin. Don't give your children treatment with antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary. One exception is Triclosan, the non-prescription drug usually found in face washes, since it is more of an antiseptic rather than an antibiotic. Since we all have different faces, none of the other groups of drugs have proven effective in all cases so it is important to find out what works best without using two different treatments at the same time.
On the bright side, most cases of teenage acne disappear once they grow into adulthood and hormone production cools off. In some cases, acne may persist and needs to be treated for life. For the purposes of brevity I won't go into detail on adult acne but suffice it to say that the same treatments are usually the only options available to the patient. On the same note, it is also worthwhile noting that acne is sometimes presented as symptoms of another overlying illness.
Will there ever be a permanent cure? Well, one of the many marvels of modern science is that we can now go directly to the root of the problem using various techniques in molecular biology and gene mapping in order to produce a chemical that can be an effective deterrent towards skin eruptions. None of the research has yet proven conclusive but various clinical trials are in progress that may provide the answer in the coming years.
In the meantime, the most important thing is to teach your kids self-confidence in the face of acne attacks. Do not force things upon them but subtly provide positive reinforcement towards helping them realize that it is a battle that needs to be fought regardless of whether they may win outright or not. What I've noticed in most severe cases of Acne at our community hospital is that teenagers are usually frustrated that they "break out" and stop using facial care treatments. Self-confidence builds self-respect and this will help motivate them to continually use the proper face washes that will at least reduce their breakouts.
Disclaimer: I'm a 4th year medical student and the facts presented are based on my own knowledge and experiences. Before using any drugs please consult your family physician.
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