Since ancient times, acne has been causing havoc with complexions. Even the Pharaohs of Egypt struggled with acne. Many superstitions and myths were linked to the skin disease as various oddball treatments were tried. The ancient Egyptians used spells and charms to treat it. People living in the third century A.D. thought the disorder was caused from telling lies. Diet and certain drinks were considered to be a major cause of acne in the 14th century, so doctors told patients to avoid spicy foods and strong beverages. It wasn't until the second half of the 20th century that significant progress was made in treating the skin disorder.
Ancient Roman Sulfur Treatments
Ancient Rome led the way as the first civilization to treat acne. In Roman Empire times (27 B.C. through 393 A.D.), it was thought that pores could be unclogged and cleansed by mixing sulfur in mineral baths. Because this type of cleansing reduced the amount of bacteria-causing acne, it was fairly effective. What's more, because of sulfur's dehydrating abilities, oils that clogged the skin were dried out. Although this wasn't a perfect cure, the mineral water and sulfur treatment did produce results.
Cell Salt Therapy
Nineteenth-century German biochemist Dr. William H. Scheussler did studies which found that every human has 12 mineral compounds known as biochemical tissue salts (cell salts). He concluded that any deficiencies in the body's cell salts resulted in illness or acne. Dr. Scheussler believed it was necessary to restore the correct balance of tissue salts for removing acne blemishes. His cell salt therapies, first discovered in 1873, are still practiced by homeopaths around the world.
Early 20th-Century Acne Treatments
In the 1920s, benzoyl peroxide was found to kill acne bacteria and became a popular treatment. Generally inexpensive, it's still widely used and is typically the first treatment option for managing mild to moderate cases of acne. Benzoyl peroxide is available in gels, lotions, cleansers and prescription creams.
Acne was often referred to as "chastity pimples" in the 1930s because people believed virgins suffered from the skin problem, believing they were unable to get rid of toxins from their bodies. Laxatives and radiation treatments were common methods for removing these chastity pimples, also known as chastity scars.
The Second Half of the 20th Century
In the 1950s, antibiotics proved effective in treating acne because of the anti-inflammatory effects of tetracycline. Retin A, discovered in the 1960s, was found to fight acne blemishes. Accutane, a form of vitamin A for reducing oil made by skin glands, was introduced as a treatment in the 1980s. Laser treatments for treating acne began in the 1990s and were found to be especially effective for people suffering from nodular and cystic acne. Although laser treatments render excellent results, they can be expensive. On a positive note, the treatments are painless and patients don't have to hide away in their homes as most people do when undergoing chemical peeling procedures.
Blue Light Therapy
Blue light therapy was developed for treating acne in the 2000s. Groundbreaking studies were done by different medical groups in the United States and Europe. Treatment for acne using blue light therapy involves using a narrow high-intensity light which prevents and heals acne. Machines can be used at home to help acne patients obtain a clear complexion.
Future Plans and Developments
Scientists are making tests on a vaccine against inflammatory acne. They hope to develop a future bacterial therapy for overcoming problems seen in antibiotic use such as a building up a bacteria resistance. These scientists of the 21st century are convinced acne isn't due to dirt and that scrubbing skin can lead to worse problems. Instead, acne is caused by fluctuating hormones, causing sebaceous glands to become over-active.
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