A C N E: Skincare’s Dirty Word
Chronic acne is prevalent in almost every age group; particularly in pre/teens, young adults and even effecting some in their adult years! The stress of acne can lead to poor self-image, anti-social behavior and anxiety. Personally, I’ve dealt with acne and can relate to many of the emotional strains that come with it. In order to address this common skincare issue, we first have to learn some basic information on acne, its causes, and methods for treatment. I’ll even discuss my own acne journey and some treatments that worked for me!
Types of acne
Acne can occur in the following forms:
· Comedones: Non-inflammatory papules that can be open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads).
· Whiteheads: White dots that are pores impacted with oil and covered by skin layers.
· Blackheads: Black bumps that are impacted pores in which material pushes out through the follicles. The black color is not from dirt. It may be from bacteria and matter that reacts with oxygen.
· Papules: Lesions that are inflamed and can be tender to the touch. These usually appear as small, pink bumps on the skin.
· Pustules: Lesions that are inflamed and filled with pus. They may be red at the base.
· Nodules: Solid lesions that are large, painful and lodged deep within the skin. Papules, pustules or nodules are more serious lesions appearing red and swollen due to inflammation or infection of the tissue around the clogged follicles.
· Cysts: Pus-filled lesions deep under the skin. These may cause scarring and pain.
What causes acne?
Consider the key factors that contribute to acne breakouts.
Hormones: Androgens elevate during puberty causing sebaceous glands to get larger and produce more sebum. Hormonal changes also occur during pregnancy or after starting or stopping birth control pills. Hormones affect the skin's oil glands (sebaceous glands) which create sebum, an oily substance that spills onto the skin through hair follicle openings (pores). The blend of oil and cells allows bacteria that normally live on the skin to grow in the follicle openings. As a result, the pores become clogged and pimples develop.
Genetics: Researchers believe that there may be a genetic predisposition to developing acne, inherited from parents. While this doesn’t mean that a person will for sure have the same kind of acne as their parents, being genetically predisposed does increase the likeliness of having issues with problem skin during your lifetime.
Medications: Some drugs - anti-epilepsy medication, prednisone, androgens and lithium, for example - can cause acne, even in adults.
Cosmetics: Anything with a greasy consistency can change the cells of the follicles, causing them to stick together which results in a plugged pore. Water-based products are less likely to cause acne. There are also make-up products that are hypoallergenic with acne fighting ingredients.
Stress: High levels of stress can be rough on your skin. CRH (Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone) is released into the blood from the brain during times of stress and creates cortisol (stress hormone) that causes oil glands to produce more oil. This leads to pores on your skin getting blocked. Try deep breathing, exercise, clean eating or talking to someone you trust as a means to de-stress. Find a creative outlet to relieve stress and build positive energy!
Friction: Irritation of your skin caused by leaning on or rubbing the skin, or even harsh scrubbing, may cause acne. Dirty hands, bedding and tight clothing can contribute to breakouts. Keep your hands away from your face and clean bedding are 2 of my biggest tips for reducing breakouts!