The comedolytic action of some cosmetic products is also used to exfoliate acne-prone skin, while reducing follicular hyperkeratosis. As a result, an acne cream containing exfoliating agents promotes the release of sebum trapped within the glandular ducts.
- Physical scrubs: Exfoliate acne-prone skin by mechanical friction. The most used exfoliants, belonging to this category, are:
- chemical peels remove dead cells on the skin surface causing a controlled breakdown of the skin and simultaneously promoting desquamation and cell turnover. Therefore, they exert a chemical exfoliating action, breaking the bonds that keep the corneocytes united to each other. Exfoliating acne creams can be prepared with:
The use of acne creams prepared with chemical exfoliants should not be combined with pharmacological and medical treatments. Not surprisingly, many acne exfoliating creams are made with these substances require a prescription. Furthermore, exfoliating acne creams (except those prepared with mandelic acid) should not be applied before or immediately after sun exposure, as they cause photosensitivity.
In any case, regardless of the type of exfoliating substance contained, before using any exfoliating cream for acne it is a good rule to always seek the preventive opinion of your doctor or dermatologist, even in the case of preparations that can be purchased without a medical prescription.
Moisturizing and photo-protective creams
Moisturizers are extremely important in the treatment (pharmacological and otherwise) of acne. In fact, many anti-acne products, by depleting the hydrolipidic film of the dermal layer, decrease the effectiveness of the natural protective skin barrier: as a result, the skin appears dry and dehydrated as water tends to evaporate from the most superficial layer of the epidermis.
The regular application of moisturizing creams supports the therapeutic action exerted by pharmacological or natural creams for acne.
For this purpose, there are hyaluronic acid creams (especially indicated for mature acneic skin), and creams formulated with natural moisturizing extracts (such as, for example, Aloe vera gel).
As an adjuvant to the anti-acne treatment, it is advisable to prefer moisturizing creams with a very light consistency and free of comedogenic substances.
It is also recommended to prefer photo-protective moisturizing creams, i.e. creams prepared with sunscreens capable of defending the skin from the sun’s electromagnetic radiation. Let us briefly recall that UVB radiations – solar or artificial – tend to worsen the clinical profile of a patient suffering from acne, especially due to the UVB fraction (which worsens inflammation at the level of acne lesions). In addition to this, as mentioned above, many products against acne alter the skin’s hydrolipidic film and/or exert an exfoliating action, thus decreasing the barrier function normally exerted by the skin. Therefore, if the skin is not protected by adequate sunscreens, UV radiations can penetrate more easily into its deepest layers causing various damages, sometimes even very serious.
By definition, acne is an inflammatory process of the pilosebaceous glands and hair follicles, often resulting from the action of pro-inflammatory substances released by the bacterium P. acnes on the skin. Also, don’t forget that many acne medications – while effective against pimples – are quite irritating to the skin.
That said, it is understood that a cream formulated with soothing, inflammation-relieving and anti-reddening substances is a valid tool for reducing the secondary symptoms of acne.
For this purpose, an anti-inflammatory and soothing acne cream can be formulated with substances such as:
- Essential oil of chamomile (Matricaria recutita): is rich in bisabolol and camazulene and is indicated for the formulation of anti-acne creams thanks to its local anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, dermopurifying and healing properties. Due to its medicinal virtues, chamomile essence is indicated for sensitive, delicate, irritated and acne-prone skin.
- Witch hazel extract (Hamamelis virginianaL.): it has anti-reddening activity (but also skin-purifying properties).
- Active ingredients extracted from marigold (Calendula officinalis): for topical use, calendula essential oil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, healing and immunostimulant properties. For this reason, calendula is also used to prepare flaming creams for acne.
- mallow extract (Malva sylvestris): it has properties similar to those of chamomile, therefore anti-inflammatory and soothing.
- Hawthorn extract (Crataegus oxyacantha L., sin. Crataegus monogyna): it is used in acne creams thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Birch extract (Betula alba L., Betula pubescens): it has both flaming and dermopurifying properties.
- 18-beta-glycyrrhetic acid extracted from licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): substance which, suitably diluted, constitutes an effective soothing agent for acne-prone, inflamed and reddened skin. In flaming creams for acne, this cosmetic ingredient is usually used at a concentration ranging from 0.5 to 1%.
Creams formulated with anti-inflammatory and soothing active ingredients are highly recommended as a support for pharmacological therapies and/or natural anti-acne treatments.
When acne constitutes a serious discomfort, both physical and psychological, the curative treatment must be more intense and generally requires the intervention of the doctor and/or dermatologist.
In similar circumstances, antibiotic creams prove to be extremely effective in fighting acne: the most suitable active ingredients for this purpose are clindamycin, erythromycin and metronidazole.
Antibiotic creams for acne – in addition to containing the antibiotic principle – can also contain other anti-acne substances, such as, for example, benzoyl peroxide, a substance with antibacterial and exfoliating properties.
These medicines, which require a doctor’s prescription, must be applied regularly to cleansed and dry acne-prone skin, for a relatively long period of time, always established by the specialist.
The beneficial and curative action of these medicines should always be supported by the regular use of moisturizing, purifying and anti-inflammatory creams to fight acne on several fronts.