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Stuck in Acne Hell? How to Get Out

You came here because you wanted to know a guaranteed solution to get rid of pimples and their marks as soon as possible, yes?

And you are wondering why you are having to read this when you just wanted a quick answer, yes?

The thing is, unless you educate yourself about the basics of acne prone skin, you are going to be stuck in acne hell forever.

We think that if we search the Internet for that one face wash or that “best acne cream” and start using it, pimples will be gone. In that pursuit, we follow random tips from friends, dubious home remedies, quick fixes, and product reviews from bloggers who’ve not had a pimple in their lives. Result? Pimples and more pimples.

The more desperate you get, the more products you want to use, and the worse it gets. This is acne hell. To get out, you need a plan.

For many of us here, it’s been a bumpy ride (no pun intended) to and back from acne hell.

We know what you are going through. We understand how acne can beat up one’s confidence and self-esteem, how it can mar and scar the best years of one’s life.

Do you even have acne?

Arrey, I don’t have acne, these are just pimples!”

Is this you?

If you are seeing pimples of any kind, big or small, no matter what you want to call them, they are just different forms of acne and your skin will be called acne prone. Pimples = acne.

In India, we somehow reserve the word “acne” for someone who has a face full of big red bumps. People don’t want to be placed in the same bucket as those people with “acne”.

Because of this denial, we don’t take the steps we need to take to achieve clear skin. This is important even for those who only experience occasional pimples because they can develop severe forms of acne later in life.

There are different degrees of acne. So your occasional small pimples are mild acne. Someone else’s prominent pimples are moderate or severe acne. But you all have the same type of skin – acne prone skin.

No single answer

Many come to Acne Mantra looking for a yes / no answer about a single face wash or acne cream and after that they just want to run with it. And then they are back couple weeks down the line, wondering why that face wash did not clear up their acne.

You see, there are no shortcuts. With fly by quick fixes, you can only go that far. Acne is a much deeper issue than a face wash can overcome. The real solution, or pukka kaam, is to spend time learning about acne so you can manage it smartly, systematically.

Those who have achieved freedom from acne have followed whole regimens with products added thoughtfully, instead of hopping from one product to another just because they saw it on T.V.

The truth about home remedies

We’ve known people who keep trying out home remedies for years in the hope that something will work. They are so against the idea of “putting any chemicals” on the skin they they cause themselves harm in the long run.

By the time they wise up, acne has already left its stamp in the form of permanent, deep scars and pimples that show no sign of stopping. Yes, there is something called “too late” when it comes to acne.

Don’t keep messing with your skin only because you want to check if a home remedy will work. Given the risks, it is an expensive way of discovering effective home remedies.

This is not to say home remedies don’t work, but you will have to come to terms with it that if your acne is any worse than very mild, you will  need to take appropriate treatment. Yes, that will involve at least some chemicals, but you are likely consuming more chemicals in your food than through skin care products.

OK, what products do I buy now?

Within 5 minutes of landing on Acne Mantra, this thought starts racing through one’s mind – OK, when do I start and what products can I go out and buy now? Can I order products online? What is the price?

The television, newspapers, magazines and blogs have all trained us to buy first, think later. Sadly, this impulsive shopping often back fires when it comes to acne prone skin.

Here’s a secret. It is not about products. It is about concepts. When you learn to identify acne-safe products, you will almost always be able to pick the right products that will work for you.

If you are serious about getting rid of pimples, spend the first week of your time on this website only reading. No purchases. Read, read, read. Ask us questions, check with other members, then decide.

If you want to get your shopping fix, go buy some shoes or clothes or motorbikes – don’t experiment with your face.

Never really done with it

Acne can come on suddenly on perfectly clear skin and take you by surprise. In both guys and girls. At any age, too.

Acne breakouts are increasingly common in people who are way past their teens, in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Our first response is to rush to a doctor, ask for the strongest medicines, finish the course and want to get on with life, like acne never happened. Fair enough.

Completing a course of antibiotics does not mean acne is cured. It is a disease, not a bout of fever.

Acne is cyclical. After a long period of remission (staying dormant), it can come back, again, suddenly, out of the blue. You can prevent these reoccurrences to an extent.

What is causing this nightmare?

Various reasons. While a surge of hormones on reaching puberty (teens, early 20’s) is the most common time and cause of acne, there are other instances in your life when you are susceptible to developing acne.

Here are some less known reasons. They are not some vague ball of puff. There are tests for each of these conditions that you can use to rule them out one by one.

  1. Poly-Cystic Ovarian Disease (PCOS)
  2. Thyroid disorders (hyper or hypothyroidism)
  3. Insulin Resistance (spikes in insulin, common in diabetic families)
  4. Food allergies and intolerance (e.g. milk)
  5. Nutritional deficiencies (deficiency of vitamin D, zinc etc.)
  6. Heredity (parents had it)
  7. Times of hormonal upheaval (pre-mentrual time, ovulation, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning, menopause, mast***ation, arousal and se*ual activity, intense workouts)
  8. Stress and mental tension
  9. Dandruff
  10. Pore-clogging skin care or makeup products (common)

Keeping enemies close, eh?

Even though people use an acne treatment or follow their doctor’s prescription, they continue to use pore-clogging products on the side in the form of face washes, face packs, scrubs, toners and what not.

Pore-clogging or comedogenic products used alongside can totally kill any benefits you might be receiving from an acne treatment. Then you wonder why your pimples aren’t going away.

It is like taking heavy-duty medicines for Diabetes and continuing to eat large amounts of sugar. What do you think is going to happen?

We don’t make the connection that our favourite products might be causing us pimples. “What, Nivea cream? No! I don’t think it causes pimples. I’ve always had pimples. And I’ve used Nivea forever. Even my mom used it as a girl”.

Continuing to use pore-clogging products just because you have an emotional attachment to them is a mistake.

As soon as their doctor’s prescription gets over, people try to get back to using their old skin care products (Nivea creme, Dove soap). Not good.

Once acne hits, it is unlikely that you will be able to continue using the same pore-clogging products that you were using earlier.

From now on, every product that touches your face (and other acne prone areas) has to be non-pore-clogging. You will learn about it as you go along.

Also, learn to read product reviews on the Internet properly. When a blogger happily declares that a product “didn’t break me out”, don’t take it at face value. The question to ask them is, “Has anything ever broken you out?”. Then read the review through that lens.

What to do now

While acne is an internal problem, there are things you can do externally that can bring relief. The first line of treatment is skin care. Very often, fixing your skin care routine is enough to bring noticeable results. In any case, a robust skin care plan is needed if you are to see lasting relief.

Fetch a cup of tea or coffee, sit back and relax. You’re going to be here a while.

Your Anti-Acne Plan

Step 1: get wise

  1. See this easy infographic showing what causes pimples.
  2. Check if any of these 50+ triggers of acne are present around you.

Step 2: skin care

  1. What kind of products to avoid from now on: products or poison?
  2. Find out your Acne Prone Skin Type.
  3. Check out these ready-made skin care regimens with tried and tested products.
    1. Starter Regimen: Acne Mantra’s signature regimen for moderate to severe acne and dark spots.
    2. Budget Regimen: Spend under Rs. 500 per month while treating moderate acne and dark spots.
    3. Basic Regimen: For mild or teenage acne and if you need a maintenance regimen.
  4. Acne gone but left dark spots behind? Use the 3-step CPP Process to fade dark spots fast.

Step 3: diet and supplements

  1. Take the milk challenge
  2. Explore nutritional supplements
  3. Consider Zinc for hormonal cystic acne

Step 4: dermatolgist

  1. If you are following an acne regimen and not seeing clear skin after 3 months, then it is time to see a dermatologist. At this point, a dermatologist will most likely prescribe antibiotic tablets. Or, they may consider putting you on isotretinoin. Isotretinoin has severe side-effects and must be used with caution.

Step 5: medical tests

  1. If you are following an acne regimen or a doctor’s prescription and not seeing clear skin after 3 months, it is time to check for underlying health issues and nutritional deficiencies. See this detailed post about what exact medical tests to get done.

Help and support

Acne Mantra is a community of warm, helpful people you can reach out to for help and support. Register in the community area by creating a login and password and ask your questions there. Be sure to read our posting guidelines to get maximum benefit.

Do join us on Facebook to get updates in your Facebook stream.

If you want to help someone, a family member, a loved one or a friend, send them to this page. Share this link with them on Facebook or over email. They will thank you for saving them years of struggle and heartache.

What we can do for you

Our goal is to empower you with necessary information so you can make smart choices in taking care of your acne prone skin instead of looking for quick fixes or random tips.

Acne Mantra comes from people who have lived with acne themselves. Each new post comes from days of research and while we cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, we make every effort to present up-to-date information.

Know that all the information is shared in good faith and is not meant or implied to replace medical treatment. While we have your best interest at heart, we expect you to use your own wise judgment before following our recommendations.

image ciadefoto@flickr

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