Zits are like cockroaches -- squash one and another pops up to take its place. And they're about as attractive as cockroaches, too. That's why so many people go out of their way to use cleansing washes and acne-fighting creams to eliminate them -- or apply makeup to make them less noticeable. Of course, some people just pop their pimples, but that's a painful habit that could damage the skin. There has to be a better way.
The Zeno acne treatment device may be that better way -- it's a zit zapper that radiates heat to destroy the bacteria responsible for breakouts. It may sound like a futuristic technology, but the Zeno has been on the market since 2005. However, NASA did have a hand in its creation [source: NASA]. Zeno is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it's available in stores and online without a prescription. Although it can be a little pricey -- most models cost more than $100 -- it claims to clear up individual pimples in 24 to 48 hours [source: NASA]. Of course, individual results vary, but it could be worth its weight in acne cream to a self-conscious teenager or an adult still dealing with acne.
Some things are too good to be true, and when it comes to pimples, people will try anything to get rid of them. So is the Zeno worth its cost? Read on to find out.
What is the Zeno Acne Device?
The Zeno acne device is a rechargeable, handheld tool used to clear up pimples. It costs between $39 and $200 per unit, and it uses replaceable treatment tips [source: Reuters].
The idea behind the device is simple: Bacteria can't live in areas that are exposed to certain sustained temperatures, and bacteria -- more specifically, P. acnes -- are responsible for 90 percent of acne [source: AAD]. The Zeno Acne Device is designed to shock bacteria with heat -- it reaches a temperature of 118.5 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) and delivers a focused heat treatment to pimples forming beneath the skin. The Zeno's tip will feel warm to the skin, but the temperature is below the threshold that can cause burning [source: Bleimes]. Robert Conrad, the inventor of the Zeno, says the level of heat doesn't burn the bacteria, but it elicits a "heat shock response" in which bacteria retreat when presented with a threatening environment [source: Bleimes].
While the Zeno may sound like an effective way to treat pimples, it doesn't cure acne, and it works only under certain conditions. Read on to see if the Zeno is right for you.
Does the Zeno Acne Device Really Work?
When used as directed, the Zeno Acne Device is 90 percent effective, according to its FDA clinical trials [source: NASA]. But what is "as directed"? To understand that, you must first realize that not all acne is created equal.
There are actually several different types of acne, but they all from when excess oil mixes with dead skin cells to clog pores, creating an environment where P. acnes bacteria can thrive [source: WebMD]. When these impacted pores push out through the follicles, they form whiteheads or blackheads. But sometimes these clogged pores don't break the skin -- they form painful pustules or hard nodules that appear red and swollen due to the inflammation of the surrounding tissue [source: WebMD]. This type of acne can be especially difficult to treat with topical creams and ointments [source: American Academy of Dermatology].
The Zeno acne device is specifically designed to treat pustules or nodules before they fully form -- both the type of acne and the timing of treatment are essential to its effectiveness [source: Zeno]. Because this type of acne typically begins as a sore spot on the skin, it's fairly easy to identify. If you use the Zeno before the pustule fully forms, there's a 90 percent chance the potential pimple won't progress into a painful protrusion. Individuals may have varied results with the Zeno, but if you use it according to its operating instructions, your odds of success are good.
For the Zeno to be 90 percent effective, you have to use it correctly. Read on to learn how.
Using the Zeno Acne Device
The Zeno acne device comes with a detailed instruction manual, and its use is fairly straightforward.
Some of the Zeno models need to be precharged prior to use -- others use rechargeable batteries [source: Abney]. Zeno recommends charging your model for 24 hours before using it for the first time. Once it's charged and you have a pimple beginning to form, fire up the device -- three tones will indicate that the Zeno is on. Most of the Zeno devices will take about a minute to reach the necessary temperature, but the new Zeno Hot Spot, which fits in the palm of your hand, reaches approximately 118 degrees within seconds. When the device is ready, a green light will flash and you'll hear two beeps [source: Zeno, Bruce, et al.]. Next, push the treatment button and lightly press the Zeno tip against the spot where the pimple is forming. Hold it there for 2 and a half minutes - the device will do the counting for you -- and remove it when prompted by another series of tones [source: Zeno]. Repeat this process one or two more times to ensure the pimple clears up during the next 24 hours. The Zeno device allows you to treat a total of three pimples in one sitting before it needs to power down for a two-minute rest [source: Zeno].
For more information on the Zeno, visit the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Abney, Hannah. "Manufacturer of Innovative Zeno Acne Treatment Device Announces Corporate Name Change." Reuters 9/9/08. (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS149084+09-Sep-2008+PRN20080909
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Acne." 2009. (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_acne.html
- Bruce, S., et al. "Significant Efficacy and Safety of Low Level Intermittent Heat in Patients with Mild to Moderate Acne." Zeno White Papers (Accessed 9/30/09)http://www.acneclearingdevice.com/Zeno_White_Papers.pdf
- MedicineNet. "Definition of Propionibacterium acnes." 7/29/04. (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=38136
- NASA STI. "Hand-Held Instrument Fights Acne, Tops Over-the-Counter Market." Spinoff 2007. (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2007/hm_5.html
- Reuters. "High-Tech Cosmetic Gadgets Move from Clinic to Home." 5/16/08 (Accessed 9/15/09) http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSN1336602820080516?sp=true
- Ross, E., et al. "Attacking Acne with Laser and Light Sources." Supplement to Skin and Aging January 2006 (Accessed 9/30/09)http://www.skinandaging.com/supplements/pdf/0206_Controversies.pdf#page=19
- WebMD. "Acne: Topic Overview." (Accessed 10/15/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-vulgaris-topic-overview
- Zeno Corporation (Support). Zeno Product Manual. 10/08. (Accessed 9/15/09) http://myzeno.com/doc/UserGuide.pdf