Balm for the stressed skin

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Those who suffer from acne can often treat their own skin. But which free-shopping mates help and which not?

Whoever has it does not feel comfortable in his skin, sometimes even distorted. For especially when it spreads in the face, acne can hardly be concealed. Sometimes it is only small hills or many black spots, preferably on nose and forehead, which disturb. Often, however, it is worse. Then reddened nodules and purulent vesicles are visible, not infrequently the skin is full of pustules, some of which are strongly inflamed, also on the back or on the décolleté.

Acne does not only suffer from adolescents. They are the most frequent and most affected, also because of the disturbed hormonal balance during puberty. However, adults can also be affected or suddenly again affected by acne. In women, the skin may deteriorate before the rule or during pregnancy because the hormone level changes. Also environmental toxins, cosmetics or drugs can cause acne.

Easy acne can treat everyone by themselves

Now, a doctor does not always have to shoot heavy guns against them. A mild to moderate acne can be treated by everyone. But this is not meant to be expressed: it is best to leave your fingers and leave the stressed skin to the trained hands of a beautician. There are, however, freely available remedies that can help to alleviate the evil. At best they prevent new pimples and blackheads forming.

The most common over-the-counter products were examined. Almost exclusively – with one exception – preparations were used for external application, in the form of gels, creams, lotions or concentrates. The amazing result: The list of recommended active ingredients is very manageable.

Suitable agents

Active substance benzoyl peroxide

As a single substance, only one active ingredient has been found to be “suitable” for the treatment of acne, namely benzoyl peroxide. This is a so-called chemical peeling agent: it cleanses greasy skin, removes superficial skin cells and counteracts inflammation by destroying corresponding germs.

Preparations containing benzoyl peroxide are available in varying concentrations and in various dosage forms. Since it irritates the skin, the highest dose of 10% of the active substance should only be used in severe acne, even if the doctor arranges it. Weaker doses of three and five percent are suitable for mild to moderate acne. However, those who suffer from neurodermatitis should only use low-dose preparations, and only after consultation with a specialist. The already dry skin could be attacked too much and become even more sensitive.

When used, the skin can become dandruffy or very dry. If you already had a dry skin before, the remedy should be used sparingly. And it can take a while before an effect is felt – after one or two weeks, the skin is less greasy, after four to six weeks, pimples and blackheads should have decreased significantly.

In some people the skin also reddens or burns something. In such a case, you should choose a lower concentration, discontinue the treatment and use the preparation only every two days. If this does not help, a visit to the dermatologist is advisable. Also sun baths or solarium visits are not advised if you use benzoyl peroxide, since the skin becomes more sensitive to UV radiation. As there may be interactions with prescription drugs (such as tretinoin), you should not use the same remedy at the same time. Talk to your doctor about it.

Antiseptics (disinfectants)

“Stiftung Warentest” is also a skin cleanser, in which two antiseptics, ie disinfectants, have been combined. The wash-active substances in the preparation clean the skin effectively. They remove the grease film on the skin and dry it slightly. The course of the acne does not affect it, the testers consider.

For use, dissolve the concentrate first in warm water. For a liter of water you need about half a teaspoon. Dip a washcloth into the liquid and place it on the appropriate skin areas. Leave in for about a minute, rinse with lukewarm water. Repeat the procedure one to three times a day.

The solution can soften the skin so much that it stretches. In such a case, reduce the dose or use the medication only every two days. It should be discontinued if the skin reacts too strongly and reddenes, or when itching blisters form. It could be an allergic reaction to one of the two active ingredients. Inform your dermatologist about it.

Sodium borosilicate sulfonate (shale oil)

Frequently used are peeling agents with the active ingredient sodium bisulphonosulfonate (shale oil). They should have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. It is available in different versions: for application on the skin as a cream and lotion and also as a tablet for oral use.

Lotions and creams should not be used longer than twelve, tablets for no longer than six weeks. Stiftung Warentest, however, advises against using these funds at all because the therapeutic efficacy has not been adequately demonstrated. In addition, severe skin irritations can occur, as well as interactions with other medicines. In particular, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should refrain from doing so, as there is not sufficient evidence for this particular patient group.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid has the property of slightly softening the upper layers of the skin, so that blackheads are easier to express. However, this is only effective from a concentration of more than two percent. Lower doses are therefore less suitable. Preparations with benzoyl peroxide are preferred.

Anyone with a renal impairment should avoid this drug or do not apply it more often than three days in a row – and only on small, hand-held areas of the skin. Because there may be interactions with prescription drugs, you should not use them at the same time.

Peeling agents and antiperspirants

A combination of a peeling agent (here benzoyl peroxide) and an antiperspirant brings in the opinion of the testers with acne nothing. If the effect of benzoyl peroxide alone is not sufficient, the drug is more likely to be combined with an antibiotic, such as erythromycin or clindamycin. The fact that benzoyl peroxide together with an antiperspirant acts better than alone or in combination with an antibiotic is not proven sufficiently.

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