Fighting pimples

Acne is a term commonly used for pimples and complexion problems. Acne is only a skin problem and does not affect the general health unless it gets complicated. Pimples are a mild form of acne which is a sebaceous gland disorder, mostly occurring in teenage people due to hormonal changes. It may occur in children and adults in some rare cases. The pimples usually subside after the age of 23.

It is a superficial infection of the skin forming blisters (papules) which may vary in size, shape, colour, course and effects. Pimples usually occur on the face and sometimes involving the neck, chest, back and upper arms. It is usually caused by the blockage of skin pores or obliterated inflamed duct of sebaceous glands in the skin. So, pimples are a combination of dead skin cells, sebum and bacteria. They later involve sebaceous glands and hair roots or follicles.

Stages of Acne - Acne progresses as inflammatory red spots (papule), blackheads (comedones) or whiteheads, and if it gets deeper, it produces boil-like lesions called nodules or cysts. Bacteria are the common culprit for all forms of pimples. The skin produces excess sebum (for lubrication) during hormonal changes or bacterial infection, which may be felt as oily material on the face. This excess sebum attracts dust and forms a plug which closes the pores of the skin. After this lesion heals, scars will form as permanent marks of the pimples' occurrence on the skin.

The preliminary stage of a pimple is the comedone - blackheads - which are open and dark in colour. These are caused by blockage of pores and get their dark colour through skin debris containing excessive melanin pigment.

Whiteheads are a dangerous form of pimple and contain pus. If we neglect this condition, the inflammation goes into the sebaceous gland and hair follicles, forming a cystic mass which may be very painful. These cysts may rupture and become a scar.

Types of Acne - There are several forms of Acne

  • Acne-Vulgaris (Acne-Simplex - pimples) - most common in adults with papule, comdones, nodules and pustules

  • Acne Indurata - deep seated infection which occurs mostly on the back

  • Acne-Fulminans - highly inflammatory pustule usually accompanied with fever

  • Acne-Cosmetica - low-grade acne in teenagers who continously use cosmetics

  • Acne-Rosacea - an extensive form occurs in hot climate, especially on the nose. It mostly occurs in old people with hypertrophied tissue

  • Acne-Varioliformis - deep-seated reddish leision which leaves a depressed or puckered skin like variola

  • Acne-Artificialis - which occurs due to intake of salts of iodide or bromide or drugs which contain these substances or contact with tar or petroleum products.

Symptoms of Pimples - Initially, it appears as red eruptive blisters or like rashes on the face, neck, chest and back, but mainly on the cheek, chin, temple and forehead, which turns to black or white heads. During this period, slight burning, soreness or pricking pain and redness may be present. It will take approximately 5-8 days to heal, if it resolves early. But if it goes deeper, it will take nearly 15-20 days to resolve. Later, if infection spreads, it becomes a painful pustule and involves nearby glands also, forming coalescence of many papules or pustules, leading finally to a scar. Usually, it gets worse with rubbing, stretching, pressing, pinching and scratching. In the most infective form, fever may also occur.

Causes of Pimples - Science is not so developed to pin-point the exact cause or rule out something else. But it is noticed in various circumstances why pimples erupt favourably. They are as follows
A) Hormonal changes - occurring during puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, and while people start or stop using birth control pills will mostly aggravate pimples. The male sex hormone testosterone (also found in women) triggers the sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum, making the skin greasy, which in turn causes pimples.
� Period of Puberty - Is pimple a sign of puberty? It occurs in both sexes due to excess sebum production, but predominately occurs in females
� Premenstrual symptom - Is pimple an indicator of periods? Mostly in women, pimples are more frequently worsened at the time of menstruation

B) Bacteria - The most common bacteria which cause pimples are Propionibacterium acne, Corynebacterium acne, Staphylococcus albus and Pityrosporon ovale.
C) Foods and intakes
- Oily, fatty, pastry, spicy and fast foods, chocolates, nuts, and milk produce more sebum, leading to more pimples.
Bromine and iodine salts' intake or medicines containing these substances, which are mainly used for cold, sedative and as analgesic, will also cause pimples.
D) Environment
- Increased exposure to ultraviolet rays (sun exposure) and also environmental irritants such as pollution and high humidity will also cause pimples.
E) Hereditary factors
- It is often found to run in families
F) Physical and mental stress
- may aggravate the condition for a flare-up.
G) Cosmetics-Greasy cosmetics stick to the skin and form a plug in pore-causing pimples
H) Infection- Dental sepsis and sinusitis sometimes cause pimples.

Effects of acne - Acne may cause black marks or discolouration or permanent scar and sometimes psychological depression when in a group.

Diagnosis of acne: Appearance of the skin itself indicates the diagnosis. Normally, no tests are required for pimples.

Prevention - The secret lies in keeping the skin clean from dirt, allergens, bacteria or viruses. Simple washing usually helps in maintenance of skin by removing germs.

  • Do's

  • Clean skin by washing at least three times a day

  • Cleaning skin by steaming as it is the best way to open the pores and to keep skin fresh

  • After exercise, wash sweat immediately to wipe off salty deposits

  • A lot of water for good body hydration

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthy skin

  • Vitamins A, C and zinc in the diet for better healing and healthy skin
    Always use

  • Gentle and mild cleanser for facial wash

  • Use soft water for washing the face

  • Use mild moisturisers and make-up
    Use carefully - Some will feel better with application of

  • Egg yolk since it is rich in vitamin-A

  • Sandal since it gives a pleasant cool feeling

  • Lemon extract since it clears the pores by its cleansing or bleaching effect

  • Washing face with strong chemical soap

  • Picking or squeezing or peeling the papule since it will cause scar by damaging skin.

  • Hot sun (even though pimples tend to be less prevalent in the summer, but very hot sun may lead to dehydration and cause cracks and outbreaks). Also UV rays can intensify acne by stimulating oil production, which cause clogged pores.

  • Excessive application of powders directly to the face (it is better to rub the powder on the hands and then apply it gently and mildly.

  • Cosmetic beauty products and make-up

  • Over moisturising the skin

  • Oil application to face since it absorbs the dirt and holds it

  • Greasy cosmetics or creams, which aggravate acne.

  • Food with high content of fat like chocolate, nuts, cheese, chips, oily foods, fast foods

Surgery - If the size of the pimple is more and it is accompanied by pain and if the symptoms do not respond to drugs, removal or drainage of cysts is done. This often produces scars.

Medication - in Allopathy, mostly medicines are not prescribed, but in extreme cases antibiotics are used to control the infection. But prolonging the course of antibiotics, often manages the situation temporarily and usually recurs after stoppage.

External applications

  • Anti-bacterial cream - acts as a bactericidal, germicidal and also opens pores

  • Cleansers - a mixture of oil and water which cleans and moisturises dry skin

  • Cortisone (steroid) cream - temporarily makes symptoms of the pimples vanish

  • Exfoliating cleansers of salicylic acid peels the outer layer of the skin as flakes to open pores. This will cause redness and soreness

  • Skin toner of diluted alcohol, water and glycerine will be useful in oily skin

  • Applying vitamin A - retinol - helps in promoting skin peeling. It often produces hyper-sensitiveness to sunlight

Hormone treatment - Birth control pills (containing an oestrogen and a progestrone) can improve acne symptoms. Dryness of the skin and headaches may come as adverse effects

Homeopathic approach - Treating skin disorders is very tough, since it is the outer most part of the body and also often exposed to irritants or pollutants or frictions which hinder the action of drugs. Also recurrence is common in skin disorder, pimples being no exception. Recurrence often produces permanent scarring. In case of pimples, the habit of picking, pinching, rubbing also hinder the curing process and add infection. Also, when the cure is not in the proper way, the disease often repeats and becomes tendency.

Homoeopathic treatment can give permanent relief to recurrent pimples. The early you treat, you get speedier and complete cure without any scar. All forms of pimples are due to an internal disorder, so the usage of external application does not yield permanent results, since it usually suppresses the condition. The tendency to erupt or break into pimples is in the body, not just in the face. So it cannot be cured with ointments. In fact, it is better to avoid topical applications as far as possible. You can notice this with people often using fairness creams which help the skin only as long as it is used. If they discontinue the usage, it will become worse than before.

Some people relate pimples to heat, sleep, hairy constitution, more sweat, more sebum secretion and they try to eliminate it and treat for these symptoms. But whatever may be the reason or reaction, if we get energised or gain immunity, the disease will not affect us.

Internal Homeopathy medicine is often the best natural option to stop recurrence of acne by raising natural resistance towards it without side-effects. The correct direction of cure is not like shutting off at one go. It will slowly come down in occurrence, size, intensity and duration. If we suppress it with ointments or external applications or steroids, it goes off immediately but will again flare up after gaining force. After taking homeopathic medicine, the disease will not vanish but recur with less intensity and for a shorter duration without pain and disturbance. It will also heal fast and finally fade. This is the right direction for safest and permanent cure.

Medicines commonly used for acne are - Belladonna, Beri Beri Aq, Oleum jac, Acid nit, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, Hepar sulph, Bacillinum, Kali Brom, Pyrogen, Art Vul, Calc phos, Lycopodium, Staphysagria, Carbo animalis, Thuja, Anti crud, Calc carb, silicea, Graphites, Sulphur, Nat mur, etc. These medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a qualified Homeopath.