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Acne has come to be regarded as a rite of passage that every teenager must go through before stepping into adulthood. However, some will have it worse than others. The condition may also continue post-adolescence. Late-onset adult acne is usually harder to treat.
Everything considered, acne is one of the most prevalent dermatological concerns that affect millions of people all over the world, regardless of their age, skin type, ethnicity, and gender.
While the pimples tend to go away after a while, they may leave behind unsightly scars. Once the scar forms, it may never go away.
Different Kinds of Blemishes
There are several different types of blemishes.
1. Blackheads and whiteheads
Blackheads and whiteheads appear on the skin when excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin clog the skin pores.
If the congested pore closes up, the blemish appears as a white or flesh-colored bump on the skin and is termed a whitehead. If the clogged pore stays open, its sebaceous contents are exposed to the air and oxidize to turn a darker color.
Thus, it is the oxidation of the contents of a clogged pore rather than the accumulation of dirt that leads to the formation of a blackhead. Even though these tiny black spots on your face can make you look dirtier than you actually are, they are generally not caused by a lack of personal cleanliness.
Even those who follow the most rigorous skin care routine can get blackheads now and again. A blackhead is not dirt, so resist scrubbing as doing so only worsens it.
Papules usually appear as red raised lesions on the surface of the skin when the excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells inside a clogged pore push deeper into the skin.
These bumps can be of different colors, shapes, or sizes and are usually accompanied by painful swelling (inflammation) around the affected area.
Pustules are similar to papules, only that they are filled with pus. Pus is a combination of bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells that have accumulated and caused an infection. Resist the temptation to pick or pop pustules as it can cause further inflammation and can even scar your skin.
4. Nodules or cysts
Nodules are hard, painful, and deep-seated blemishes that can severely damage the skin tissue and cause long-lasting scars even after they heal.
Nodules form when the walls of a hair follicle break down, allowing the bacteria and oil to spread deeper into the skin. A membrane may form around the infected area, leading to the formation of a painful cyst.
5. Red or hyperpigmented marks on the skin
The blemishes may be left behind once the acne has cleared. The inflammation that has occurred causes an increase in pigment production. Because there has not been any permanent damage to the collagen, these stains, unlike scars, are smooth.
Scars form when there is abnormal collagen production during the skin repair process. When you incur some kind of skin tissue damage, the skin cells produce collagen to form a protective film over the wound to keep it safe from further injury or trauma.
If there is excessive production of collagen during this skin healing process, it can take the form of an indented or raised scar at the affected site. The best way to avoid developing scars is to treat your acne early and avoid picking or popping the acne.
How Long Do Blemishes Normally Take to Fade Away?
The type of blemish determines how long it will take to fade. When treating papules, pustules, and comedones, it may take 4–6 weeks to see improvement. Complete clearing may take 2–3 months.
Red marks or discolored spots may take 3–6 months or longer to disappear. Scars may be permanent.
Nutrient Deficiencies That May Cause Blemishes
The nutrient deficiencies that are most likely to contribute to acne are deficiencies in vitamins A, E, and D and zinc. Vitamins A and E are both antioxidants required to keep you healthy.
A study showed that individuals with acne run low on vitamins A and E and that supplementation of these vitamins may help improve their skin condition. (1)
Another study found a similar correlation between low blood levels of zinc and severe acne. The study proposed that people with this condition should increase their daily intake of dietary zinc to 40 mg. (2) Zinc is a dietary mineral that plays a vital role in skin development and in regulating your metabolism and hormone levels.
Foods That Help in Clearing Blemishes
It is becoming clearer through studies that dairy products, particularly skim milk, and foods with a high glycemic index or glycemic load can aggravate acne.
Therefore, eating low-glycemic foods that contain complex carbohydrates is recommended to reduce the risk of acne. These foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. The research is less clear, though, in identifying foods that may help prevent or reduce acne.
According to some studies, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help decrease inflammation and reduce some of the symptoms of acne. (3)(4)
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), pastured eggs, soy products, navy beans, spinach, kale, flaxseeds, walnuts, and almonds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Limited evidence suggests that foods rich in antioxidants, dietary fiber, zinc, and vitamins A and E may also help reduce acne by decreasing inflammation.
Can Coconut Oil Help Fade Blemishes?
Coconut oil has amazing moisturizing and antibacterial properties. However, it may not be the best ingredient to treat acne. Even though lauric acid, a component of coconut oil, possesses antibacterial properties, no evidence shows that coconut oil will improve comedones, papules, or cysts.
In fact, coconut oil is highly comedogenic, which means it causes comedones. Therefore, be careful if you are using it as a moisturizer.
Can Blemishes Be Removed Permanently?
The dark or red marks from acne usually fade over time. Using sunscreen, retinoids, and vitamin C can aid in their disappearance. Once a scar has formed, it may require cosmetic interventions to remove it completely. Cosmetic treatment options may include dermal fillers, lasers, punch excisions, or a combination of these.
Prevention is better than cure. It is the cornerstone of almost all treatment modalities but is especially relevant for acne scars or blemishes. To save yourself the ordeal of treating a stubborn scar, you should take the necessary skin care measures to prevent its occurrence in the first place.
For acne blemishes that have already formed, early-stage treatment will help prevent your mild acne from becoming cystic or nodular. Cystic acne can damage your skin at a deeper level and is associated with a higher risk of permanent scarring, as opposed to mild acne. Thus, treating acne scars depends on how deep the skin damage is.
If your acne blemishes fail to clear or progress to a severe form despite proper preliminary care, then see a dermatologist for prescription medications and other suitable skin care products.
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