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Acne Vulgaris

When most people think of acne, they envision a teenager or adolescent with a pimply face, but this skin problem isn’t unique to the younger set. Adults get it too. The official medical name for this skin condition is acne vulgaris. Vulgaris literally means common, which is appropriate since so many people are affected by this skin problem.

What Causes It?

The red bumps and clogged pores that are so characteristic of acne is related to the overproduction of an oily substance called sebum. Sebum is made by sebaceous glands that lie adjacent to hair follicles. It has the beneficial function of lubricating and protecting the skin, but when too much is much produced, it causes skin cells inside the hair follicle to stick together. These cells are continuously being produced and sloughed off, but sebum causes them to clog up the follicle and pore that connects to the surface of the skin. Bacteria feed on the dead skin cells and sebum. This leads to inflammation and the red bumps and pustules you see with acne.

People with acne also get whiteheads and blackheads known as comedones. These are essentially follicles plugged with dead skin cells that aren’t inflamed.

The whole process starts with overproduction of sebum, and that’s usually hormonal in nature. That’s why you see acne so often in adolescents in teens as their hormone levels change. Acne is also more common during pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations. There’s also a genetic component to acne, and it can be triggered by hormonal medications or corticosteroids. Stress and diet also seem to play a role.

Basic Treatment

Some people with acne cleanse their skin too aggressively. Twice a day cleansing with a mild cleanser, gently moving the washcloth in a circular motion without aggressively scrubbing the skin, is sufficient. Once cleansed, applying a lotion containing benzoyl peroxide helps to reduce the bacteria in the follicles that are contributing to the problem. For severe cases of cystic acne, dermatologist sometimes prescribe antibiotics to reduce bacteria. Unfortunately, oral antibiotics have side effects.

Another ingredient in some over-the-counter products that helps to reduce bacteria is sulfur. Sulfur has the additional benefit of helping to open up clogged pores. It does this by reducing the tendency for dead skin cells in the follicle to clump together. It can cause redness, peeling and irritation.

Another approach for treatment is to use products containing alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid. These weak acids are found in some products used to treat acne. They help to loosen up and remove the dead skin cells that are clogging the pores. Of the two, products containing salicylic acid are usually more effective, although some people experience skin irritation when they first start using them.

Sulfur has the additional benefit of helping to open up clogged pores.

More Advanced Treatment

A dermatologist or aesthetician can do chemical peels using salicylic acid or glycolic acid to reduce comedones and help prevent outbreaks. This usually requires a series of peels to get maximal results. These peels can cause some temporary redness and skin irritation.

Dermatologists frequently prescribe retinoids in products such as Retin-A to treat acne vulgaris. Retinoids work by keeping the dead skin cells in the follicle from sticking together, which opens up pores that are clogged. Despite their effectiveness, many people have redness and skin irritation when they use them. This usually improves over time.

The primary cause of acne is overproduction of sebum, which is usually related to hormonal changes. Some women with adult acne respond to oral contraceptives, but this should be a treatment of last resort due to the potential side effects.

Another treatment that’s growing in popularity is blue light therapy. This involves using a handheld device that delivers blue light to the skin. Bacteria produce chemicals called porphyrins. These porphyrins absorb the light and free radicals are produced that destroy the bacteria which contribute to acne. These handheld devices are now available for home use. They shouldn’t be used to treat cystic acne.

The Bottom Line?

Acne vulgaris is a common skin problem not only in adolescents and teens but adults too. Fortunately, there are treatments that work well for this condition.

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Acne Vulgaris Products

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This product provides a dramatic improvement in the skin's appearance, feel, and function.
$28.00
4 oz | PN003
In Stock ADD TO BAG
An oil-free serum so potent it goes beyond acne to fight aging.
$88.00
1oz | SK076
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Helps to improve the appearance of problem skin.
$85.00
30 ct | NV158
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A replacement brush head duo for acne-prone skin.
$44.00 $54.00 value
2 ct | CS072
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A fast-acting, on-the-spot treatment that helps to clear up pimples and significantly reduce redness.
$24.00
1oz | KS018
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The Mia 2 with a brush head and cleanser targeted for acneic skin.
$169.00
1 ct | CS069
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A decongesting cleansing gel recommended for oily or problematic skin.
$38.00
8 oz | SK070
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A spot treatment that rids of blemishes and ingrown hairs.
$28.00
1.18 oz | RC052
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A lightweight moisturizer that is perfect for combination, oily or acne prone skin.
$53.20
2 oz | SM088
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Calms irritated and stressed skin and reduces blemishes with blue LED.
$349.00
1 ct | QL002
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Removes dirt, debris, makeup and excess oil with 2% Salicylic Acid.
$39.00
4 oz | OB055
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Get smoother, clearer skin in only a few minutes a day with this blue LED device.
$595.00
1 ct | QL012
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Four replacement brush heads for acne-prone skin.
$88.00 $108.00 value
4 ct | CSPK70
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This exfoliating toner removes excess residue and dead skin cells, leaving your skin with a beautiful glow.
$38.00
8 oz | SK073
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Quickly and efficiently clear acne blemishes while preventing future breakouts.
$81.00
1.6 oz | OB047
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An acne treatment that helps to reduce blemishes and inflammation.
$36.95
1.35 oz | LP083
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Reduce breakouts from the inside by 55% in six weeks with this scientifically proven complex.
$43.00
120 ct | MR014
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Adult Anti-Acne System is a clinically proven three-step regimen to reduce sebum and improve fine lines.
$130.00 $164.00 value
SK103
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Specifically formulated for acne-prone skin.
$34.00
5oz | SK043
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A pure facial wash that leaves skin clear and refined, without over-drying.
$22.00
6.5oz | BC021
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An exfoliating and acne-minimizing mask that leaves you with magically glowing skin.
$69.00
1.2 oz | GG002
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Reduces blemishes and blackheads while it soothes.
$17.00
60 ct | TP041
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An exfoliating gel that helps to combat stubborn blemishes.
$28.00
3.3 oz | PN007
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This treatment clears acne blemishes, refines texture, and prevents reoccurrence of acne imperfections.
$31.00
1.01oz | LP086
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A cleansing bar that reduces breakouts and inflammation.
$42.00
4oz | RC050
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Manage breakouts and put your best face forward.
$29.50 $39.00 value
BC052
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A brush head for acne-prone skin to be used with any Clarisonic device.
$27.00
1 ct | CS071
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Exclusively formulated to clear up blackheads, refine pores and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
$40.00
60 ct | PT074
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A spot treatment specially formulated to address your most stubborn skin imperfections.
$42.00
0.3 oz | PN018
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This light, hydrating formulation contains antioxidants and provides exceptional calming benefits to oily and breakout-prone skin.
$37.00
1.7 oz | PH010
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Strong detoxifying, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action in an easy roll pen applicator.
$19.00
0.21 oz | SP007
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Clinically proven to quickly clear acne, helping you maintain clear, healthy skin.
$143.00
OB039
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Skin Accumax® is a scientifically advanced nutritional supplement.
$115.00
120 ct | JI582
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Deeply cleanse, exfoliate and renew pores in 1 easy step.
$15.00
30 ct | OL099
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A pure facial wash that leaves skin clear and refined, without over-drying.
$42.00 $44.00 value
13 oz | BCPK05
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This serum effectively tightens pores and boosts skin renewal, evening texture and tone.
$45.00
1oz | LP087
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An anti-bacterial mask that fights off blemishes with Ginger and Shiso.
$28.00
4 ct | KA004
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Medicated cleanser for the treatment of acne and clogged pores.
$38.00
8.5 oz | PT073
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Heal and reduce breakouts on blemish-prone or troubled skin.
$98.80
SM063
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An effective system for combating acne, blackheads and enlarged pores.
$47.00
PN012
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Exfoliates dead skin cells and dries and clears blemishes.
$40.00
5 oz | PT099
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This moisturizer keeps oil production in check while providing anti-aging benefits.
$65.00
1.7 oz | KS019
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A spot treatment pad that addresses acne and soothes ingrown hairs and razor burn.
$30.00
45 ct | RC077
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This system helps to combat stubborn acne, redness and inflammation.
$49.00
PN017
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A blemish treatment that helps to heal and conceal blemishes with sulfur.
$18.00
0.03 oz | BE573
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A nighttime treatment to reduce breakouts and inflammation.
$54.00
1.17 oz | RC099
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Formulated to remove excess oils, fats, and other lipids present on acne prone skin.
$32.00
3.4oz | NS011
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A powerful gel cleanser that combats acne and skin breakouts.
$35.00 $46.00 value
12oz | MR214
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