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Looking into Chemical Peels for Treating your Acne?
I've never been big on the thought of applying chemicals to any part of my body, and the idea of using them on my face to heal acne sounded counter-productive - not to mention more than a little painful! Chemical peels, however, have been a popular acne treatment for many, many years. Often more effective than simple topical treatments, but arguably less intense than laser skin resurfacing or microdermabrasion, chemical peels can be used to treat both acne blemishes as well as acne scars. There are a few different types of peels, differentiated by the depth of penetration and the chemical ingredients.
Chemical peels use a variety of chemicals to remove the upper layer of damaged, scarred, or lined skin. The idea is that, with the removal of damaged skin, new and healthy skin will grow in its place. Furthermore, removing the top part of the skin can take away any dead skin cells blocking the pores, allowing comedones to start healing and preventing new formations.
There are several different types of chemical peels, and AHA (alphahydroxy acid) peels are the mildest form of chemical peel, with the least recovery time involved. Sometimes doctors even recommend a face wash or cream containing AHA for a similar effect. AHA peels can be composed of glycolic, lactic, or fruit-based acids, and application generally lasts only 10 minutes at a time. Since the process is so gentle, repeat applications may be necessary with intervals of a week or more in between. Following the treatment, the skin generally responds with temporary flaking or sloughing of dead cells and may feel very dry and red, somewhat similar to a sunburn. This generally disappears quite quickly, and bandages aren't usually necessary.
Chemical peels done using TCA (trichloracetic acid) are a moderate form of chemical peel that affects a greater depth of the skin. This peel can take longer to apply, and results in a more intense burning of the skin. Although the procedure can be done relatively quickly during a visit to the dermatologist, sedation is sometimes used during the treatment in order to help the patient relax. Also, since the TCA peel is more intense than the AHA peel, it is recommended that sun exposure be limited, and the skin properly protected. Some crusting may occur with this treatment, but it is purely superficial, and should disappear within a few days.
The strongest type of chemical peel uses phenol, generally in combination with croton oil. This treatment is used to remove deep wrinkles, serious sun-damage, and sometimes even pre-cancerous growths. The phenol peel is the deepest one available, which is both beneficial and detrimental. The chief positive aspect of a phenol peel is that skin improvements are so obvious; smooth, even-toned, and more blemish-free skin can often be noticed within 7-10 days, lasting sometimes up to 20 years. The cost for such dramatic improvements, however, is not small. The procedure itself can be up to 2 hours in length. Also, the recovery time for a phenol peel can take over a month, and side-effects are reported to be much more common for this peel than for the AHA or TCA peels. These side-effects include swelling and crusting, but one of the most serious is a permanent skin pallor. Phenol peels essentially bleach the skin and render it unable to tan. This means that the effects of this peel will look natural only for those with pale skin who don't tan easily.
It is clear that chemical peels, as with any acne medication, are not a procedure to embark upon without a consultation from a professional. Since peels vary in penetrating depth, certain chemical peels are tailored towards certain types of acne. Also, while self-treatment kits can be purchased, it is highly recommended that patients go to a professional. Only professionals can ensure proper chemical control and minimize the chance of mistakes and irreversible side-effects such as scarring or adverse pigmentation. From most reports, chemical peels sound like they can be a very useful tool for acne treatment, often with fantastic results. That said, I don't think I'll be doing it myself any time soon!
About the Author: Author C. L. Jackson wishes the topic of acne was simply an academic interest ... but unfortunately thatís not the case! You'll find much more information on this topic at the author's website http://www.acne-infosource.info/acne-medication.php