Acne has become a worldwide problem that is faced by 80% of young adults and adolescents worldwide. With various types of acne and acne treatments available, acne cannot be blamed solely on the skin’s health.
What is Acne?
Acne usually appears in the form of small or large red pimples and skin inflammation due to bacteria and over production of oil glands and sebum. The skin may be too oily or the T-zone (nose and forehead) may be extra shiny. Acne can also be characterized by blackheads, nodules, whiteheads, cysts, papules, and pustules, which form over time.
What Causes Acne?
Acne causes are attributed to various things.
During puberty, the fluctuation of testosterone and androgen can trigger higher sebum production. This leads to changes in cellular activity and oil production and also affects the hair follicles. Usually, this results in acne due to inflammation.
Researchers found that sebum glands have receptors for stress hormones. What does this mean? Unfortunately, there is no direct link between cortisol, the stress hormone, and acne. But turns out, scientists did notice that more sebum is produced when stress is higher.
Around 50-80% of women suffer from acne before their periods. Before menstruation, estrogen is at its lowest, giving testosterone more chance to affect the body and increase sebum production. At the same time, progesterone also begins to affect the skin, causing the skin to swell and close the pores.
Acne can also result as a side effect of various medications, topical lotions, cosmetics and creams that an individual might be using. With the changes introduced within the biochemistry of the body and skin, changes are bound to bring about an acne flare up.
What Are the Most Common Types of Acne?
1. Acne Vulgaris
Blackheads, whiteheads, and breakouts on the face, back, chest and shoulders are classical symptoms of this type of acne, and it commonly affects teenagers and young adolescents.
2. Cystic Acne
Characterized by the presence of painful pus-filled lesions, this painful acne usually affects women who have hormonal discrepancies.
3. Moderate Acne
Presence of multiple whiteheads, inflamed bumps, and blackheads on the skin make up moderate acne and can grow in size if left untreated.
4. Acne Mechanica
Also known as Sports Induced Acne, it’s characterized by inflammation caused by friction, heat, and pressure due to tight clothes.
5. Acne Conglobata
This is characterized by severe acne appearing on the torso and buttocks, which is painful to deal with.
How to Prevent Acne
There are several ways to reduce the onset of acne. Taking care of your skin, reading the labels on all your products and maintaining nutritional hygiene are factors to begin with.
Ingredients in Your Skin Care Routine
Using the right products to cleanse and tone your face makes all the difference. Skin that is prone to acne has special needs, which must be taken into consideration. Look for products that contain one of the following:
- Salicylic Acid
- Glycolic Acid
- Tea tree oil
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Witch Hazel
- Mild topical retinoids
- Vitamin C
These ingredients cleanse, exfoliate and clear skin from acne-causing bacteria, clear up excess sebum and keep it in control
Avoid the following ingredients. They can cause major dryness or exacerbate your acne:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Mineral oil
The Importance of a Skin Care Routine
It’s important to establish a skin care routine to follow twice a day and have topical medicines for emergency breakouts. It’s essential to cleanse your face due to environmental factors of acne, like pollution, free radicals, smoke, dust, and to cleanse your pores from congestive products. In fact, the Korean Beauty secret of double cleansing has become a mainstream tip on how to deep cleanse your face.
Acne Preventing Foods
Preventing acne is not just an external job – what you put in your body reflects on your skin. Research has now begun to find links between diet and acne, stating that foods that have a high glycemic index increase the chances of acne breakouts. For example:
- Poultry products (eggs)
- GMO plants
- Non-organically bred animal products
In other words, it’s best to avoid foods with high carbohydrates, trans fats, and sugars. A diet consisting of the following helps to stabilize the body’s natural hormones and sebum production and introduce antioxidants to help decrease inflammation and infections:
- Vitamins A, C, E and D
- Yellow fruits and vegetables – carrots, apricots, sweet potatoes, etc
- Whole grains
- Green vegetables and fruits – spinach, kale, lettuce, apples, etc
- Fatty fish
- Nuts and seeds
Topical Applications: Makeup, Lotions, Creams, Serums and Gels
It’s important to use products that are oil-free, non-comedogenic and paraben free. The idea is not to congest and overwhelm your skin with too many chemicals piled on top of one another.
This can usually cause skin irritation and clogged pores and increase the chances of bacteria growth. You’re then left with inflamed skin and very high chances of a breakout.
Other Factors to Prevent Acne
There are various other factors to prevent acne.
Hair: For those with dandruff, scalp conditions and greasy hair are recommended to keep their scalp clean and keep hair away from the face and neck.
Bed Linen: It is also suggested to regularly change bed linen, especially pillowcases, where there are chances of dead cells and bacteria harboring at an alarming rate. Changing bed linen twice a week and using friction-less material like satin or silk for pillowcases is highly recommended.
- Facial Tools: Tools like makeup brushes, facial extractors, and cleansing brushes/cloths are supposed to be regularly cleaned and sanitized. The bacteria can grow at a scary rate and can contaminate any makeup product you may dip these tools into.
Facial Hair Removal: It’s highly advised to leave facial hair removal to professionals. However, if you are acne prone and waxing and shaving leave your skin red and bumpy, you should try laser or electrolysis instead.
Exfoliation: Those with acne prone skin should not over exfoliate with coarse exfoliators. This increases the chances of bacteria spreading and post-acne scarring. Chemical exfoliators, on the other hand, are doctored just for exfoliating acne prone skin.
Care Tips to Prevent Acne
There is no foolproof cure for acne. With changes in food manufacturing, pollution and the environment, it’s best to use preventative care to slow down the onset of breakouts and reduce skin inflammation.
If you are prone to acne, you should be careful to use sun and UV protectants at all times to dispel environmental factors of acne; also, make sure to use a sunscreen that is non-comedogenic and won’t congest your skin. You should also avoid touching your face unnecessarily and never pick at an inflamed spot.
However, if your acne is persistent and painful and has been there for a long period of time, it’s best to speak to a dermatologist for effective acne treatment and diet management program to help you.
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