Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. Medically, it is known as acne vulgaris. It occurs when skin pores or hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin (sebum), and so usually affects skin areas where oil glands are present in relatively high numbers, such as the face, back, and upper chest.
If poorly treated or if left untreated, acne can result in scarring. More, it can negatively impact a person’s psychological state, worsening their mood and lowering their self-esteem, and can be associated with a higher risk of anxiety and depressive conditions.
Acne is most common in puberty, brought on by hormonal changes either during the menstrual cycle or with increasing testosterone, as these hormones cause an increase in sebum production. Dead skin cells then block the pore, leading to the typical swelling or “head” as sebum builds up behind the blockage. Finally, excessive growth of normal skin bacteria occurs in and around the pore, resulting in inflammation, redness and soreness.
Common treatments target one or more of the above stages in the development of acne, and may be either taken orally or applied topically to the affected area (1).
Benzoyl peroxide is commonly used to reduce the number of skin bacteria, and salicylic acid can unblock pores (1). A doctor may prescribe retinoids (e.g. tretinoin), that work to both unblock pores and reduce inflammation, or alternatively, topical antibiotics (e.g., clindamycin or erythromycin) that work by killing off the infecting bacteria.
Most of these treatments have the disadvantage of drying and/or irritating the skin, and many cannot be used by pregnant or nursing women.
When applied to your skin, nicotinamide may:
But we wanted to take a moment to point out what we believe is one of its most overlooked abilities: the treatment of acne.
Topical nicotinamide has been shown to be effective in the treatment of acne. A 4% or 5% nicotinamide gel has been found to be as effective as topical 1% or 2% clindamycin gel for treating mild-moderate acne (2,3). The study concluded that nicotinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties may have contributed towards its success, however it has also been shown to reduce the excess facial sebum production that causes inflammatory acne, facial shine (oiliness) and non-inflamed comedones (small, skin-coloured bumps frequently found on the forehead and chin of those with acne). Application of a 2% nicotinamide moisturiser to the face for 4-6 weeks reduced sebum production with significant differences in facial shine and oiliness (4).
After reading scientific literature, our pharmacists recommend that Vitamin B3 gels be applied twice daily. If this application rate causes excessive skin drying, it may be applied once daily or every other day.
Another way to take advantage of the benefits of topical Vitamin B3 is to incorporate it into your skin care, such as in a facial moisturiser!
See also BCP Clear Skin Kit.
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