Acne is a widespread condition that causes blemishes on the skin. It is often first seen in adolescents, but can strike at any age. Acne can occur on almost any area of the body, but is most often seen around the face, chest and back.
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear to researchers, the body will sometimes overproduce a substance called Sebum. Sebum is produced by the body to moisturize the skin. When there is overabundant Sebum, it sometimes doesn’t make it past the hair follicle or pore, causing a clog. This results in growth of bacteria called Propionibacterium Acnes, or more simply P. Acnes, which is the underlying cause of acne. P. Acnes causes the redness, swelling and pustules usually associated with acne.
Acne is not caused by food or dirt, although both can make existing acne worse. While proper skin care and diet are important overall, they will not completely prevent or treat acne outbreaks. For relief, acne sufferers need to turn to traditional acne medication or holistic (natural) medicine for acne medication and treatments that are effective.
Acne medication can either be topical – applied directly to the effected area – or oral – taken internally.
Topical treatments such as Benzoyl Peroxide or Retinoids work by attacking bacteria that lies in the follicles. The two basic varieties of topically applied acne medication are those that contain antibiotics and those that do not. Acne medication without antibiotics can be purchased over-the-counter, but the more powerful creams containing antibiotics like Clindamycin and Erythromycin require a prescription. Azelaic Acid is sometimes used in topical acne medications as an anti-inflammatory.
A regimen of oral antibiotics may be prescribed for more severe outbreaks of acne. Antibiotics like Erythromycin and Tetracycline are generally given in high doses to start, with the dose gradually reduced over a 6-month treatment schedule. The P. Acnes bacteria at the root of acne outbreaks can become resistant to antibiotic treatment after a time, making the subsequent antibiotic treatments less effective.
Oral contraceptives, or Birth Control Pills, are also effective as a long-term acne medication solution to acne outbreaks. These pills slow the production of sebum, and without a sebum build-up the P. Acnes bacteria cannot take control of the follicles. Birth Control Pills are not prescribed as acne medication for men due to their hormonal effects, and cannot be given to women who smoke or are otherwise advised against using them. They are also, obviously, not indicated for acne sufferers who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near-term.
Alternative acne medication, also known as natural or holistic medicine, takes a different approach to the treatment and prevention of acne. Unlike conventional acne medication, Holistic medicine is based on the study of the human body and mind as a whole unit, and practitioners believe that all conditions must take into account both physical and emotional factors in the patient.
The traditional view treats acne’s symptoms in hopes of clearing up the underlying cause. In contrast, alternative medicine believes nothing happens in the body without the entire body and mind being involved, and seeks to correct the emotional as well as physical reasons for an outbreak.
While natural medicine does not ignore the underlying physical cause of acne – the P. Acnes bacteria – natural treatment of acne will focus on stress and emotion to find an underlying holistic cause of the physical symptoms. Holistic treatment of acne will also focus on hormonal changes that lead to a sebum imbalance in the skin.
As such, holistic practitioners will work to bring the mind into balance as a first step to acne treatment for acne outbreaks. They will then focus on constructing a diet that balances the hormones and gives the body its best chance at fighting off acne outbreaks with its natural defenses.
Lastly, the holistic acne treatment approach will consist of a regimen of natural supplements specifically designed to strengthen the body’s defenses against acne. This could include vitamins and minerals and Vitamin C and Flaxseed Oil. Natural practitioners also use remedies such as homeopathic Sulfur as a form of acne medication.