The hor­mone fac­tor

Drink your weight in wa­ter… or stick with the many proven acne fight­ers. The best in­gre­di­ents, here!

Glamour (South Africa) - - Beauty - Sal­i­cylic acid

If your acne is cys­tic and con­cen­trated around your mouth, blame your hor­mones Be­cause the pill stops the hor­monal fluc­tu­a­tions that can bring on those break­outs, it’s of­ten a so­lu­tion. And if you started tak­ing the pill in your teens or 20s, well, you may not even re­alise it’s help­ing keep your skin clear un­til you go off it and break out. Some women de­velop cys­tic acne for the first time only af­ter they stop tak­ing the pill, says der­ma­tol­o­gist Dr Jill M We­in­stein.

The link be­tween other forms of birth con­trol and break­outs, how­ever, isn’t as clear-cut “There’s cur­rently con­tro­versy around IUDS and acne,” says Dr Wil­liam James, a pro­fes­sor of der­ma­tol­ogy who has seen pa­tients break out af­ter switch­ing from oral con­tra­cep­tives to the semiper­ma­nent de­vice. “Many IUDS out­put hor­mones, which could lead to acne flare-ups, but it’s such a small amount of hor­mones that we don’t know if those are caus­ing acne or if it’s be­cause you’re los­ing [the skin] ben­e­fits of oral con­tra­cep­tives.”

Another pill with skin ben­e­fits is an oral blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tion called spirono­lac­tone “It’s un­der­go­ing a re­nais­sance for acne treatment,” says Dr James. “It blocks the ef­fects of an­dro­gen hor­mones on oil glands.” But it’s not with­out po­ten­tial side ef­fects, such as ir­reg­u­lar pe­ri­ods. So com­pa­nies are re­search­ing ways to con­trol ex­cess oil pro­duc­tion (a sign of hor­monal acne) with­out in­flu­enc­ing hor­mone lev­els. The most promis­ing, DRM01, is a top­i­cal drug that shuts off the en­zymes needed to make se­bum. It could be avail­able in as lit­tle as two years.

1Ben­zoyl per­ox­ide It works in about 12 weeks by calm­ing in­flam­ma­tion and killing the bac­te­ria that cause acne. But there’s a good chance you’re us­ing it the wrong way. “We used to think of ben­zoyl per­ox­ide as a spot treatment,” says Dr James. “But since it kills acne bac­te­ria, we now know to use it all over to pre­vent new break­outs.” A 2.5% or 5.5% for­mula works as well as a 10% one, with­out the flaky side ef­fects. TRY La Roche-posay Ef­faclar H (R240) – it’s a der­ma­tol­o­gist favourite.

2It’s in a lot of acne prod­ucts, but be­cause it works by re­mov­ing ex­cess oil and dead skin cells from the skin’s sur­face, it’s re­ally ideal only for black­heads and white­heads, not usu­ally deeper pim­ples. If sal­i­cylic acid creams dry you out, Dr Ze­ich­ner sug­gests look­ing for the in­gre­di­ent in a face wash. “Leave it on for as long as it takes you to sing the al­pha­bet.”

3Retinoids “They’re like pipe clean­ers for your skin,” says Dr Ze­ich­ner. “They min­imise the stick­i­ness of dead cells so they’re less likely to clog hair fol­li­cles and cause pim­ples.” Dr James adds, “Com­bin­ing retinoids and ben­zoyl per­ox­ide is also very ef­fec­tive, be­cause the in­gre­di­ents act in dif­fer­ent ways.” Talk to your der­ma­tol­o­gist about pre­scrip­tion-strength retinoids.

4An­tibi­otic­sIf your acne is cys­tic, per­sis­tent or se­vere (15-plus pim­ples at once, but who’s count­ing?), “Oral an­tibi­otics can get it un­der con­trol by de­creas­ing in­flam­ma­tion and killing some of the acne on your skin,” says Dr We­in­stein. But just last year, the guide­lines for this treatment changed. “Re­search showed a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of re­sis­tant bac­te­ria was a re­sult of long-term an­tibi­otic use, which was com­mon with acne pa­tients,” says Dr We­in­stein. “Now we pre­scribe oral an­tibi­otics for only 12-14 weeks.”

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