OTC Acne Devices: From Stone age to Space Age.

With greater understanding of the pathophysiology of acne, comes greater advances in treatment, well beyond a wash or cream. Nonetheless, physical contraptions can range from simplistic to complex inventions to target drainage, inflammation, bacteria, and skin shedding.

  1. Comedone Extractor: One of the most simplistic but necessary tools for acne is the comedone extractor. It should be a part of everyone’s arsenal. This little metal tool uses the physics of a pressure gradient to expulse contents from whiteheads and blackheads. It is a sanitary and less damaging way to clear acne, while decreasing the risk of scarring and bacteria that a fingernail scraping would do. Whiteheads (little closed, white topped bumps) will require pricking of the surface (clean a needle with alcohol, and make a small opening for contents to come through) before using an extractor. Blackheads (little grey/black filled bumps/recessions or pores) are already open and ready to apply firm pressure with the extractor. Clean the extractor with alcohol after each use. The best extractors should have a fairly wide opening with firm oval or square ridge of metal at edges (not the small circles which make it hard to visualize the bump and difficult to express through hole). See the above photo. But the drawback is, it doesn’t help with inflammatory lesions.

  1. Oscillating Sonic Brushes: Although there is quite a professional array of opinions on these brushes, some saying they cause too much epidermal damage and some appreciating the mechanical exfoliation is beneficial if used in moderation. I am of the latter opinion. I find the uses of brushes on non-sensitive skin individuals as a great tool to upend dank, dusty flake and renew glow. Brushes are also helpful to shake out debris from blackheads/pores and encourage opening of whiteheads. The Clarisonic is the most popular and comes with a variety of accompanying parts. Multiple reviews of the best facial brushes can be found on-line such as  http://www.toptenreviews.com/home/beauty/best-facial-cleansing-brushes/, http://heavy.com/social/2016/02/top-best-facial-cleansing-brush-face-claisonic-ddf-olay-lavo-proactiv-conair-philips-soniclear/

  1. Light Therapy (light emitting diodes): Facial masks, wands, and desktop vanity devices using visible light rays have been found to reduce acne with minimal adverse effects. Blue light (405-420 nm) is touted to destroy P. Acnes bacteria in the skin, by activing bacteria cell porphyrins (light sensitive chemicals in cell walls), which cause destruction of the bacterial cell membrane. The result is a two-day death sentence for bacteria. Red light (630-66- nm) reaches deep into the skin to shrink sebaceous (oil glands), thereby decreasing oil production and inflammation up to two weeks. The newest wave of products actually combine these light spectrums for maximum benefit, showing a 76% improvement in one study, greater than either used alone. Compare the best devices on sites such as https://simplesavvychic.com/best-acne-light-therapy-devices/ or http://www.lighttherapydevice.com/. However, the most effective light systems, using penetration boosting chemical preps, can be found in clinician offices.

For those with sensitive skin or who are having adverse effects on other acne treatments, the above devices may be a great way to treat without using harsh chemicals. However, these devices work best in conjunction with a good acne care regimen, to maximize clearing effects.

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