Whether you call them spots, pimples or zits, the red bumps caused by acne are probably something you'd like to see less of. Acne primarily affects the upper part of the body, although it can occur anywhere. Mild cases of acne can be managed with self-treatment, but serious cases should be cared for by a dermatologist to prevent unnecessary scarring.
Acne results from a combination of three things: overproduction of sebum, a clogged pore and bacteria. Sebum is oil that is naturally produced by your skin. When too much oil is produced and becomes trapped in a pore, it provides a perfect growth medium for the bacteria that cause acne.
Antibacterial soaps are soaps or detergents (synthetic cleansers) that contain ingredients that kill bacteria. There are concerns that the use of antibacterial products, particularly those containing triclosan, may contribute to the rise of “superbugs,” or bacteria which are resistant to all but the most advanced chemical agents and medications. These concerns were reported by emerging infectious disease researchers working with the Centers for Disease Control as far back as 2005.
Antibacterial soaps may help kill bacteria on the skin that contribute to the development of acne. Antibacterial soaps can cause the sky to become dry and irritated, however, especially if they are not designed for facial use. Topical medications being used for acne, such as benzoyl peroxide, may have antibacterial effects, rendering the use of antibacterial soap redundant.
Health experts, such as those at University of Wisconsin Health Services, recommend using gentle cleansers such as Purpose or Cetaphil as your first line of acne self-care. Other health experts, such as those at Southern Illinois University, say that an antibacterial soap may be helpful. Eighty-six percent of 103 reviewers at the website Acne.org reported positive experiences with and said they would recommend a particular antibacterial cleansing bar for acne treatment. Only you can determine whether an antibacterial soap helps with your acne.
As with any product used on the skin, the potential for skin irritation or allergic reactions from antibacterial soaps exists. If any product you are using produces redness or itching, discontinue use and consult your physician. If self-care does not improve your acne after several weeks, or if your acne becomes worse, consult your physician.
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Stephanie Crumley Hill is a childbirth educator who for more than 20 years has written professionally about pregnancy, family and a variety of health and medical topics. A former print magazine editor, her insurance articles for “Resource” magazine garnered numerous awards. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Georgia.