Over-the-Counter Acne Products

Few of us get through life without ever having to deal with acne. For most people, the problem begins in adolescence, but acne can also strike adults. With so many over the counter acne products, it can be difficult to wade through them all and find the right product for you. There are several different over-the-counter ingredients that can help treat your acne.

Acne is the term given to skin outbreaks known as pimples, blemishes and zits. It is most common among people between the ages of 12 and 25, but older people suffer as well. Just under the surface of the skin are glands known as sebaceous glands. These glands produce oil called sebum. Sebum is very important in keeping the skin soft and moist. Sebum is released to the skin's surface through tiny little holes called pores When certain bacteria are present, the sebum combines with the bacteria and becomes sticky, which causes the pores to become clogged. When this happens, the bacteria have the perfect environment to thrive. The area becomes infected and then it begins to ooze pus and swell. It can then spread and the next thing you know, you have a rash of pimples. Acne most commonly shows up on the face, neck, back, shoulders and chest. The chin, cheeks and forehead are the typical facial areas that acne attacks.

It's Not Your Diet
There are many misconceptions about what causes acne. The truth is diet and poor hygiene do not cause acne. Of course avoiding a diet filled with greasy food and chocolate just makes good sense for your overall health, but diet doesn't cause pimples. It's unfortunate that this myth persists because it adds shame to a condition that is already hard on the self-esteem.

If you have severe acne, you may need to seek help from a dermatologist, but most people can find relief through over the counter acne treatments and skin care products that are specially formulated to help clear the clogged pores and kill the bacteria that is the real problem behind the pimples.

Acne Treatments
One of the most common ingredients in acne treatments is benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide has been around since the 1930s. It is a bleaching agent that uses oxygen to help get rid of the bumps, while the antiseptic properties get rid of surface bacteria. The problem with benzoyl peroxide is it can be very drying to the skin. It is probably best used in a cream or gel form that you can apply directly to the pimple, and about a half inch around the pimple, while avoiding the rest of your skin. Proactiv Solution uses benzoyl peroxide as one its primary ingredients in its renewing cleanser. Proactiv has worked well for many people, with a three-step system for treating acne. Skin care products that use benzoyl peroxide have varying degrees of concentrations that range from 2.5% to about 10%. There is no real hard evidence that higher concentrations of benzoyl peroxide are any more effective than lower concentrations, so start with a lower strength product to avoid the drying effects.

Another common ingredient in acne treatments is salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a proven bacteria fighter, so it can be very effective in treating acne. However, it too can be very drying, so it is important to use it sparingly and only on affected areas of the skin, moving about a half inch beyond the reddened blemish. If you have very sensitive skin, you should try a product with salicylic acid before you try benzoyl peroxide. Salicylic acid works to breakdown whiteheads and blackheads. It also slows down the shedding of cells inside the hair follicles, which in turn, prevents the pores from clogging. You can find over the counter acne treatments with anywhere from .5 percent to 2 percent salicylic acid. OXY is a common brand of acne treatment that uses salicylic acid.

Sulfur and resorcinol are usually found together in acne treatments. These two ingredients work by removing dead skin cells that clog pores and by removing excess oil from the skin. They can cause redness and peeling, so be careful not to overuse. Clearasil contains sulfur and resorcinol.

The most important thing to remember about over the counter acne treatments and skin care products with acne fighting ingredients is to start with the lowest concentration of medication that you can find. Try one product at a time until you find the one that works best for you.

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