Can Ice Help Acne?
There are plenty of treatments available for acne. These involve the use of natural remedies, medications such as antibiotics, and topical applications. And as a sport treatment, there have been reports of individuals using ice to reduce pimples. How effective is this?
Well, according to acne specialist Julie Pruitt, using ice cannot “cure” acne. Pruitt goes on to state that the misconception arises from the fact that ice can reduce the inflammation and swelling that occurs as a result of acne. So yes, ice can help acne. However, it does not eliminate the acne itself. It is more of a emergency band-aid solution to a bullet wound.
Nevertheless, ice does serve a purpose in reducing swelling, which can be an emergency quick fix in getting rid of whiteheads or blind pimples. So, if you need to get rid of a massive pimple or zit just before you head out, then ice can come in handy as a temporary solution. Although applying ice may temporarily redden the skin surrounding the pimple. It will eventually reduce the spot’s redness as a whole 30 minutes later. Be sure to apply ice a few hours before going on a date or to dinner.
Here are a few steps to show you how ice can be used to reduce acne inflammation and swelling:
1. The first step is to actually make some ice. So, if you have an ice maker or a freezer, just fill up an ice cube tray with water and place it in the freezer or fill the ice maker with water. Once the ice is ready, take the ice and wrap it in a clean and soft cloth to create an ice pack.
Avoid using ice directly on your face, as it can cause frostbites or ice burns. And, this will last for days! Then you’ll have real problems.
2. Rub the ice on the affected area for about 15 minutes or less. This will help in tightening the pores on your skin. You will notice the inflammation reducing gradually. This method works even more effectively with hypertrophic or atrophic scars.
3. You can repeat the process everyday if you like. Though, it won’t eliminate acne or reduce the scarring, it will definitely bring down the swelling and inflammatory effect. This will make your skin look healthier and better.
What Else Can Be Done?
Poor hygiene is not the cause of acne, but a factor involved in the process of acne formation. So, we must learn to practice proper hygiene. Unclean skin can harbor bacteria, especially the one that cause acne. Propionibacterium acnes. This bacteria can get into the pores clogged with sweat, dirt, and sebum. Ultimately leading to acne.
Since ice doesn’t exactly minimize acne formation, we would need to follow and combine other treatment methods to benefit completely. Here are a few of those methods:
• Cleansing and exfoliating the skin. For cleansing, it is advisable to use just water. Only use your hands while taking shower with only the water. No actual cleansers or products. The cleansing process is best when done twice a day. As for exfoliation (removal of dead skin cells), see here how a mud mask works wonders.
• Women who use oil based make up should avoid doing so. Oil based cosmetics can clog the pores, which results in acne. To prevent this from happening, you must make a practice of using oil-free or non-comedogenic products.
• Probiotics have also been known to help with acne. They balance the good bacteria and bad bacteria ratio, which can help minimize acne breakouts or acne formation.
• Also, avoid the consumption of junk foods. Junk foods cause problems in the digestive system, which can further lead to hormonal changes. Hormonal changes, as we already know, are one of the factors involved in causing acne.
• Other habits that might improve acne conditions include proper sleep, eliminating stress, exercising and avoiding touching the face.
Common Myths About Acne
Here are some of the common myths about acne that you might have or may come across:
• Acne is caused by poor hygiene. This is completely false. Acne is caused by a wide range of factors and a lot of them are purely physiological. Though, poor hygiene maybe a factor, it does not cause acne by itself. In fact, too much hygiene is also a contributor to acne formation.
• Acne is a skin infection. This is also untrue. It is more of a skin condition that is caused by a combination of factors such as hormones, sebum production, bacteria etc. It is not contagious and cannot be transmitted to another person.
• Acne cannot be cured or treated. This is another myth. Acne can fixed naturally. Try these steps to cure it. However, in some cases, it may last for very long but can still be treated and managed.
How Long Can an Acne Treatment Last?
Typical acne treatments generally starts showing results in about 4 to 5 weeks. But, as far as a complete clear up is concerned, it can even take up to a few months. The key is to continue with the treatment for as long as possible or for as long as needed. A lot of patients tend to quit treatment under the assumption that it isn’t working. This is why most people never experience proper healing. Experts advise patients to try a particular treatment for at least a period of 6 weeks before giving it up. Also, experts state that if one treatment doesn’t show improvement, then the next best step is to continue with another treatment, instead of just quitting.
Unfortunately, the hard fact is that the cure for acne is a complete overhaul of your lifestyle choices. Continued treatment through better eating habits, sleeping, exercise and stress management is the only way to keep things under control. Stopping this kind of treatment won’t cause flare ups immediately. But it will come back. Treatment must be continued till the acne subsides on its own. Generally, treatment can last up to 5 years, especially for adolescents. By the mid to late 20s, acne subsides for most individuals. There are a few cases where acne lasts all the way up to the 30s or even your 40s.
A Summary of Acne
Acne is a skin condition that affects almost all of us, especially teenagers. According to experts, people in the age groups of 12 to 25 are most likely to be affected by this condition. The condition also affects more males than females. According to studies, around 8 out of 10 teenagers develop some form of acne in their lifetime and 3 out of those 10 teenagers will experience a severe form of the condition. Severe acne can lead to scarring that may last for a long time. In fact, the scars can last up until middle age. Acne, generally, affects the face, but it can also spread to various other parts of the body such as the chest, neck, and back. Acne usually subsides after a period of 4 to 5 years since its onset. But, in certain cases, it can last for ages.
However, it is a condition that can be treated. But, treatment may last for a long time and timely intervention also plays a key role in mitigating severity. For instance, acne that is inflamed may require immediate attention, or else, it will eventually lead to scarring. People usually undergo treatment for acne spots as well, which can last for months. Even after the spots disappear, patients are required to undergo treatment for maintenance. This is done to prevent a resurgence of the acne and the consequent spots.
How Does Acne Occur?
In order to understand how acne occurs, we must first understand how our skin works. Underneath our skin’s surface, there are a series of glands known as the ‘sebaceous glands’. The sebaceous glands produce an oil-like substance known as ‘sebum’. Sebum is what keeps our skin smooth and moisturized.
The sebum is excreted through tiny hole in our skin known as pores. These are the very same pores through which facial hair also grows.
During adolescence, our bodies produce a higher amount of sebum than normal. This occurs primarily due to the many changes that our bodies undergo at this age. These changes also cause a hormonal imbalance, which in turn, stimulate the sebaceous glands. This leads to more sebum being produced and our skin becoming more oily and sticky as a consequence. The stickiness causes our pores to harbor dirt and bacteria, which eventually leads to the formation of acne. So, you could say that acne occurs due to the combined effect of hormones, sebum, bacteria, and dirt.
As these pores become clogged, they lead to the formation of whiteheads and blackheads. Blackheads can be identified with their signature black color. The color is a result of pigmentation and not dirt, which is a common myth that does the rounds. Similarly, when sebum accumulates under these clogged pores, it leads to the formation of pimples. Normal acne does not progress beyond this phase.
As for severe acne, it occurs when a bacterium known as Propionibacterium acnes settles in the accumulated sebum and begins to multiply. Though, not harmful when on the skin, the bacterium triggers an immune response when it multiplies in the accumulated sebum. This immune response leads to skin inflammation. The inflammation damages the skin further and causes spots to form. The spots eventually become filled with pus. In some very severe cases, the pus filled spots turn to cysts and nodules.
The inflamed spots begin to heal gradually. However, the affected areas do remain discolored for a long time. This happens due to post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. The hyper-pigmentation is more noticeable in darker skinned individuals. Another consequence of the inflammation is the formation of pits or craters on the skin. These pits or craters can last a lifetime and that’s why even elderly people can be found with these scars on their faces.
Other Causes of Acne
Apart from these standard causes, acne can also be caused due to other, more rare, conditions. For instance, in women, polycystic ovary syndrome can lead to acne. This is because these conditions lead to excess testosterone (male hormone) production, which is one of the major factors that cause acne formation.
Another rare cause of acne is exposure to certain chemicals such as halogenated hydrocarbons, which is usually a workplace related hazard.
Things that Worsen an Acne Condition
Apart from normal causes of acne, there are external factors that aggravate the condition. These include:
- The usage of heavy make-up. Some types of make-up can adversely affect the skin and aggravate the existing acne problem. Experts advise using oil-free or non-comedogenic cosmetics to prevent this from happening.
- Monthly periods in women has also been known to aggravate acne.
- Contraceptive pills containing only progestogen have been known to cause acne or make it worse.
- Touching, squeezing or pinching the pimples, blackheads, whiteheads etc. can lead to further infection. This triggers an immune response causing further inflammation and scarring.
- Humid environments can also cause acne to get worse. Sweat accumulates in the pores, along with sebum, dirt, and bacteria, which are the most common factors behind acne formation.
- Wearing tight clothing made of artificial materials, especially during exercise, can also aggravate acne. This is because tight clothing can lead to excess friction and sweating in the skin.
- Certain medications also aggravate the condition. For instance, steroid based ointments and creams for treating eczema or phenytoin for epilepsy have been known for their side effects, which involves aggravating. Doctors can prescribe alternative medication to prevent this.
- Anabolic steroids used by bodybuilders have also been known to worsen acne.
- A diet rich in sugar tends to have an indirect effect on acne as well. However, no concrete evidence exists to prove this. Still, it would be safer to avoid a sugar rich diet and stick to healthier options.
Can ice help acne? As we have already seen, acne is hard to cure and ice definitely doesn’t change that fact. However, ice does help reduce the swelling and inflammation that comes with acne. Therefore, we can consider ice to be a small part of the whole acne treatment package. Ice can be combined with various other treatments such as antibiotics or topical ointments to produce a wholesome effect.
Cheers, and be sure to leave a comment or any questions below!