You have an event coming up and you want to look perfect for the event. But you wake up that morning and see a cluster of red blazing acne on your face and your world shatters!
Depending on its severity, acne can cause a lot of emotional stress and scarring. As per the American Academy of Dermatology acne can affect more than your skin. It can affect your confidence, self-esteem and decrease the quality of life.
Acne is caused by 4 main factors
Excess oil production
Overactive sebum (oil) production is the root cause of acne. Sebum is the natural oily waxy substance secreted by our sebaceous glands to keep our skin moisturized and hydrated. However, some factors like genetics, stress, hormones, food and climate can make the oil glands go into overdrive and cause excess oil production.
Clogging of pores by oil and dead skin cells
The outer layer of our skin renews itself every four weeks. Dead skin cells slough off and new skin cells take its place. This cycle of sloughing off and replenishment keeps our skin soft and supple on the surface. In case of acne prone skin, the excess oil production and the dead skin cells together form a sticky mass which clogs the pores.
Bacterial infection in the clogged pores
The trapping of oil and dead skin cells in the pores creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Soon the pores get inflamed and red, inflamed pimples and acne breakouts show up on the skin surface.
Hormonal changes, especially the increase or fluctuation in the male hormone, androgen plays a direct role in causing acne. Apart from increasing the oil production and the skin cell turnover, it thickens the lining of the pores making them narrower and increasing the possibility of a blockage. Therefore, acne breakouts are more common during adolescence.
Sudden acne breakouts are usually triggered by hormones triggers like sudden rise in sugar levels, abnormal thyroid function or hormonal surges around menstrual cycles or ovulation.
Apart from the above, there are many acne triggers that may contribute to the development of acne like diet, stress, wrong skin care, poor skin hygiene, constipation and many more. See below for more information.
The most potent stimulator of oil gland is the male hormone testosterone. While both women and men produce all three types of hormones (testosterone, estrogen and progesterone), the testosterone levels are much higher in men; and therefore the acne tends to be more severe in men as compared to women
Puberty – Almost 70% teenagers passing through puberty suffer from acne. It is the rising level of testosterone which acts as a trigger.
Oral Contraceptive Pills – Intake of oral contraceptive pills can trigger acne bouts.
Pregnancy – Change of hormones during pregnancy can trigger acne.
Middle Age Hormonal Changes – Testosterone also impacts Adult Acne. Adult men and women, who have never had acne in their entire life, suddenly start breaking out with lumps of acne.
Menstrual Periods – Breakouts of acne typically increase around menstrual periods. It can almost be said that like the menstrual cycle the acne too follows a 28 day cycle with flare-ups during periods. Some studies have shown that the size of the pores keep varying and are narrowest before periods thereby increasing the clogging of secretions.
Polycystic Ovarian Disease – Acne could be a symptom of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a condition in which the ovaries secrete abnormally high amounts of androgens (male hormones) that often cause problems with ovulation. Women with PCOS have enlarged ovaries which contain multiple, small cysts. The symptoms of PCOS are – Acne, oily skin, weight gain, hirsutism (abnormal hair growth on chin, chest or other unwanted areas), irregular periods, enlarged ovaries. Acne, along with other signs may prompt an evaluation for PCOS.
Thyroid Disorder – Thyroid disorders can cause acne breakouts. A diagnosis of thyroid disorder can be made from its symptoms which include acne, fatigue, menstrual irregularities, weight gain, constipation, depression, inability to focus, brittle nails, dry skin and hair loss. However in mild to moderate cases the above symptoms may not always be present and thus it is best to rule out any abnormality through a blood test.
Genes play a role in predisposing a person to acne. Having ‘acne genes’ does not mean that a person will automatically get acne, it just makes the person more vulnerable to getting acne, given certain environmental influences or triggers.
Genes can influence how sensitive the skin is to hormones. It can also influence the strength of inflammatory response to bacteria. This is the reason why some people suffer from acne and others don’t despite identical diets, lifestyles and environmental factors.
Acne due to Oily Skin
Oily skin is associated with acne, yet all individuals with oily skin do not suffer from the condition. Oily skin makes a very good breeding ground for bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Most people with acne have a combination skin which is oily in certain areas and dry or normal in other areas. Oily skin is high maintenance and tends to clog easily giving rise to acne. Even the touch of oily, unwashed hair can cause friction acne on areas where it brushes with the skin.
Using advanced Derma Tec Analysis we can diagnose the exact type of your skin and thereby formulate a list of products that are best suited to your skin type. Visit Dr. Health Clinic, the best clinic for Acne Treatment in Bangalore, today!
To keep skin oil free, wash face at regular intervals. Washing not only cools down the skin but also relieves inflammation. Keep hands and hair off the face. Shampoo regularly to ensure hair is fresh and oil free. Avoid oiling hair for extended periods of time.
Acne due to Stress
Stress is one of the commonest acne triggers. When one is tensed, the body releases stress hormones including cortisol. This sets up a chain reaction causing excess oil production, clogged pores and the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, thrive and cause acne breakouts. Recent studies have shown that Adult Acne cases in middle aged women are at an all time high & the primary aggravating factor is chronic stress. The pressure to work outside the home, maintain a steady family income & juggle with household work and kids can be quite a task which the present generation of women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s are constantly exposed to.
Taking adequate rest and managing stress is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. If the stress condition is short-lived, such as a student getting an acne flare during exams, there is not much to do because these are episodic. But if the stressors are more chronic, such as bereavement, difficult marriage or unemployment then the patient may need anti-stress medication along with the acne treatment.
Acne due to Cosmetics
Suppressing acne or using heavy make-up to conceal blemishes on the skin can add fuel to fire. The more you try to hide, the more gross they appear with time. The vast number of quick-fix-over-the-counter products meant for cleansing, toning, skin-lightening, scrubbing etc can make a person confused about the right skin care. Healthy skin is not dependent on the use of too many products. Healthy skin is all about identifying your skin type and keeping the use of products simple and to the point.
Know your skin type – Identifying your skin type is the first step to choosing the right skin care. There are 5 different skin types – normal, dry, oily, combination and sensitive or problem skin. Dry skin feels papery and coarse to touch. It feels tight and stretchy without a moisturizer and tends to have fine lines around the mouth and eyes. Dry skin is prone to premature ageing. Oily skin appears waxy and has large and visible pores. By midday it starts appearing waxy and absorbs make-up quickly. It easily breaks out into pimples, whiteheads and blackheads. Combination skin is dry mostly on the cheeks and oily on the T-zone. After washing some areas feel dry and some smooth. By afternoon the T-zone appears shiny and greasy. Sensitive skin can be dry, oily or normal. It reacts adversely to environmental factors like sun exposure and also to cosmetics containing alcohol, fragrances and artificial colors. Once you know your skin type, the choice of products becomes easier.
Choose products as per your skin type – When it comes to choosing products, the general perception that herbal is always safe or that expensive products work better are wrong. Imported products are made to suit the skin type and climatic conditions of people living in that particular region and do not necessarily suit one and all. It is best to avoid products with thick pore-clogging chemicals, strong fragrances or PABA sunscreens. The 3 basic requirements of skin are cleansing, moisturizing and exfoliating and the products required for the same are to be chosen as per the skin type. The idea is to never overdo on skin care, even make-up needs to be minimum.
Acne due to Oily Food
Studies have shown that high glycemic diet or foods that produce high levels of blood sugar can aggravate acne. These foods include breads, highly refined grains and cereals, French fries, potato chips, dairy products, sodas and other aerated drinks etc. The more is the intake of high-glycemic foods, the higher is the sugar level in the body. As the sugar levels rise, so does the sebum level, leading to clogged pores and the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, thrive and cause the development of acne.
Excessive intake of Tea & coffee can worsen acne by their stimulating action on the oil glands. Similarly alcohol works like an astringent causing the pores to shrink making them more prone to clogging. Drinking in moderation is the answer.
One of the best ways to deal with acne is to have foods rich in antioxidants. Apart from protecting the skin from free radical damage, it helps in building the natural immunity of the skin. A healthy skin is far more resistant to acne breakouts. Fruits like pomegranate, blue berries and grapes are rich in antioxidants. Vitamins A, C and E are also strong antioxidants. Drinking sufficient water is an essential part of a healthy diet.
Acne due to Sweating
Personal hygiene is another aspect that can trigger acne. Most people with acne have an oily skin or perspire heavily. If the oil and perspiration is allowed to stagnate on the skin especially in areas which are not well ventilated like the chest and back, it can trigger infection and acne formation. The choice of clothing is also important. Materials like lycra, silk, polyester clothing trap perspiration and trigger acne.
To prevent oil and sweat from stagnating on the skin it is best to shower twice a day. Shower immediately after any physical activity or workouts. Apart from washing away sweat and body odor, showering helps to remove excess oils. Exfoliating soaps or scrubs can also be used while showering to remove dead cells. Tight clothing especially fabrics like nylon, silk and polyester trap perspiration and should be avoided. Choose loose fitting clothing made from breathable fabric like cotton or linen which allows for good ventilation of the skin.
Acne due to Exercise
A regular exercise regime can be extremely beneficial to the overall skin health and can help to get rid of acne. So exercising per say cannot cause acne. However acne breakouts can result due to other factors associated with exercising. Exercising can leave your skin warm and sweaty which is a perfect environment for acne to develop.
The exercise clothing can trigger acne. The tight fitting lycra or nylon track pants can trap a lot of heat and perspiration resulting in bacterial infection. The use of unhygienic gym equipment can be a source of infection. Furthermore Testosterone levels increase due to exercising which can lead to acne. Lastly the high protein supplements and special body building food can trigger acne breakouts.
Acne due to Pollution
Pollution does play a contributory role in contaminating the skin. Furthermore, by causing free radical damage; it causes the skin to lose elasticity, age prematurely and breakout easily. Heat, sweat and sun exposure is an added trigger. The skin contamination gets worse in areas where there is heavy construction going on. Constant exposure to cement dust can cause the skin to become rough and dark.
To protect the skin against pollution, it is important to use a good cleansing routine. A good cleanser includes soap or a face wash and an exfoliating facial scrub which can regularly de-clog the skin pores. Use a moisturizer to keep skin well hydrated. Moisturizing is one of the key components for maintaining a healthy and youthful skin. Moisturizers not only increase the water content of the skin, but also protect the skin and make it appear smooth. Use tan removing face masks at regular intervals to prevent skin darkening. Add antioxidants in your diet. Use an umbrella or a scarf to physically protect your skin along with a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Acne due to Constipation
Constipation is a well known acne trigger. A sluggish digestive system cannot eliminate toxins correctly and therefore finds an outlet through the skin causing acne.
Severe cases of constipation may require medication. However as medicines can be habit forming, it is best to treat mild to moderate cases of constipation through a fiber rich diet. Fiber can be found in fruits like apple, bananas, pears and prunes and in vegetables like spinach, corn and beans. Eating a bran cereal every morning is the best way to keep constipation under control.
Acne due to Smoking and Alcohol
It is a well established fact that a poor lifestyle contributes largely to the development of acne. Working at odd hours, lack of sleep, excessive intake of tea or coffee, smoking, drinking, irregular eating habits, constipation, sluggish digestive system, stress at work, poor hygiene, and exposure to atmospheric pollution are some of the factors that constitute a poor lifestyle.
Night shifts and odd working hours can upset the biological cycle and trigger acne breakouts. Apart from the stress of working at night, there are other factors like irregular eating habits and irregular bowel movements that trigger acne.
While some of the above factors cannot be completely avoided, minimizing the exposure can prove effective for acne treatments.
Acne due to Facials and Waxing
People with sensitive and acne prone skin are likely to suffer from acne breakouts after parlor treatments. Furthermore it can make the bacterial infection spread to larger areas. Acne which are manually scraped or scooped out during facial treatments can leave behind scars, blotchy marks or uneven skin. The removal of facial and body hair by means of procedures like threading and waxing also are acne triggers. Apart from acne, it can also cause ingrowing hair. An in growing hair results when the hair is cut too short due to which it curls, penetrates back into the skin and gets trapped there. The trapped hair then gets infected and appears as tiny red bumps on the surface with a black dot. Unless some precautionary measures are taken, this may occur with every session of hair removal and continue in perpetuity.
Avoid elaborate facial treatments or chemical peels. Women with tendency to premenstrual tensions should avoid parlor treatments around periods. Follow a post-waxing skin care regime after hair removal sessions like waxing or epilating. Cold fomentation of the skin immediately after waxing followed by application of an antiseptic solution helps to prevent infection of the hair follicles. Using a body scrub on an ongoing basis and increasing the interval between waxing sessions also helps.
Acne due to Dairy Products
A study conducted by American dermatology association has concluded that milk was a principal contributor for some people’s acne. During the study which was conducted on 1000 teenagers it was found that acne reduced when milk consumption went down.
It was believed that fat and sugar in milk caused acne. Apart from this the hormones in milk (produced by pregnant cows) break down into androgen, stimulate excess production which clog the pores and cause acne. Completely restricting dairy foods is however impractical. The key is to limit the consumption for a while till acne is controlled.