85% of people are affected at some point by acne as it is one of the most common skin conditions in the world. You could be affected by acne at any age, but it is most common among teenagers. There are effective treatments available however acne may be very stubborn. Depending on the severity of the acne, this can cause emotional distress in a person and scarring on the skin.
Signs of Acne
Indications of acne vary person to person, it depends on the extensiveness of your condition. Different types of acne include:
- Whiteheads (clogged pores that are closed)
- Blackheads (clogged pores that are open)
- Papules (small red bumps)
- Pimples (red bumps with pus)
- Nodules (Large, hard, painful bumps below the epidermal later)
- Cystic Lesions (Painful, pus-filled bumps below the epidermal later)
Causes of Acne
You may see more acne in areas such as the face, chest and back because there are more oil glands in these areas which makes them more susceptible to getting clogged and inflamed. No one factor causes acne. a few factors have been identified by Dermatologists that can affect to the acne development:
- Too much oil on your skin
- The presence of a bacteria called propionibacterium acnes in the pores
- Skin Inflammation, which also contributes to redness
Certain factors can also trigger or exacerbate acne further such as:
- Hormones – When our bodies undergo puberty, the hormones in our body will increase and lead to oil glands expanding and generating more sebum. Hormones will also fluctuate with pregnancy and oral contraceptives can also have an effect on sebum production. Some women have lower amounts of hormones circulating in their blood which can also cause their acne to worsen.
- Medication – drugs with testosterone, lithium or corticosteroids can exacerbate acne
- Diet – diet plays a role in acne such as, dairy, carbohydrate-rich foods, chocolate etc can worsen acne.
- Genetics – you are more susceptible to acne if your parents had it growing up, or are still facing acne problems now
- Greasy or oily substances – if you use oil based lotions and creams excessively on your skin or work around grease (ie. Kitchen work)
- Constant pressure on the skin or friction – acne can worsen due to items such as tight clothing, phones, helmets, backpacks etc touching your face excessively would also exacerbate the problem
- Cosmetics – some products are pore clogging (comedogenic). It is important to read the ingredients and avoid oil based products as this can clog pores further if not removed properly
- Stress – doesn’t necessarily lead to acne but definitely has the ability to make the problem worse
How to prevent acne
There are a few things you can do to help prevent acne
- Wash your face twice daily. It is important to remove excess dirt and oil from the skin by washing it regularly however, scrubbing too hard or cleansing with chemicals can irritate the skin and make it worse. Opt for a milder cleanser to help prevent pimples
- Keep hair clean. Excess oil in the hair can travel to the skin and worsen acne, especially close to the hairline. Refrain from getting hair products on the face such has hair spray or gel as this can clog pores which leads to breakouts
- Refrain from popping and picking at pimples. As tempting as it is, this will result in inflammation and potentially scarring. Try a topical treatment and look for ingredients such has salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. You could also consider topical retinoids which is derived from vitamin A. These treatments can get rid of excess dead skin cells and reduce inflammation
- Cut back on foods that may exacerbate acne such as sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods and dairy
- Wear sunscreen. Excessive sun can have a damaging effect on the skin. Sunburns can lead to overproduction of oils which can make acne worse. Look for an oil free sunscreen and be mindful to cleanse your face thoroughly at the end of the day as not to clog the pores
- Avoid skincare products that contain oil. Look for products that are labeled “non-comedogenic”. That being said, it’s still very important to keep a balance and make sure the skin is still moisturized. If you remove too much natural oil from the skin, the skin may compensate by producing more oil which can clog pores and lead to more acne
- Keep facial care products clean. This applies mainly to makeup tools such as facial sponges and brushes These should be cleaned regularly with soap and water and dry completely before use. Bacteria can easily build up and will cause a breakout
How to get rid of acne
Conventional acne treatments are expensive and have a possibility for uncertain negative effects, such as dryness, irritation and redness. Natural ways become popular for people to cure acne.
Some natural remedies to consider include
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts water and wipe your face with it after cleansing. Let sit and rinse off. Repeat 1-2 times daily
- Honey and Cinnamon mask- Both ingredients are rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown using antioxidants are more effective at reducing acne than benzoyl peroxide and retinoids. Mix 2 parts honey and 1 part cinnamon together to form a paste. Apply the mask and leave for 10-15 minutes, wash and pat dry
- Tea tree oil or witch hazel- known to be antibacterial and soothe inflammation, it can improve acne if consistently used. It also doesn’t dry out and irritate the skin as much as benzoyl peroxide
- Adjust your diet. Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly it raises blood sugar. Avoid foods with a high GI and opt for foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole or minimally processed grains. Avoid dairy of you can as well has studies have found a positive association between drinking milk and acne.
- Reduce stress. Stress can slow the bodies healing process by up to 40%. Get more sleep, engage in physical exercise or meditate to reduce stress levels
Some other methods to get rid of acne:
Lifestyle – not everyone can sleep 8 hours every day and eat 3 healthy breakfast per day and drink 8 cups of water. The most useful lifestyle change you could make is to never pick or squeeze your pimples. This spreads bacteria and can lead to more acne and can cause scarring on the face
Open and clean the pores – occasional visits to the esthetician who is expertly trained to safely remove blackheads during a facial can help
Cleansing and skin care – there is no one recipe to cure acne. Mild cleansers can help keep the skin clean and minimize irritation. Use a gentle toner to wipe away excess sebum on the face. Mild exfoliation can also be helpful as these products remove the outer layer of the skin thus opening pores.
Oral medication – there is a long list of differently antibiotic treatments that are useful for treating acne. You should consult a doctor before starting these and take into account the side effects of each treatment
Light treatments – recent years have seen success in treating acne using special lights. Laser treatment of acne is best thought of as an add-on to conventional therapy rather than as a substitute
Acne affects people of all ages and has an extensive list of possible causes. There are numerous ways to treat acne whether it be conventional or home remedies, remember to have patience and give treatments time to start working before giving up.