Unfortunately, science has yet to determine it’s exact cause. While stress can irritate acne, it is not the exact cause of acne breakouts.
The most common form of acne is pubescent acne.
As teenagers enter puberty, the body undergoes an increase in hormone production. This produces high levels of androgens, which include male sex hormones, primarily testosterone. Unfortunately, testosterone causes the body to produce sebum, the oil that is excreted by the skin’s oil glands.
Sebum clogs the opening of hair follicles, particularly those on the back, neck, chest, and face. Here, bacteria grow, eventually leading to blackheads and whiteheads. Often times, a buildup of this clogging creates pressure that breaks the hair follicle wall. After this break, sebum leaks into the tissues creating a papule—also known as inflammatory acne—and larger tender pustules also known as nodules.
Another possible cause of acne breakouts is oral contraceptives.
For some women, these contraceptives trigger breakouts. Injectable contraceptives and intrauterine birth control devices (IUD) are also well known to cause acne.
For those of us lucky to escape our teen years without so much as a blemish, adult-onset acne could be the source of their newfound acne troubles. Some doctors agree that acne flare-ups have less to do with the actual androgen levels of puberty, and more to do with how a person’s skin reacts to sebum production as a whole. Since the Propionibacterium acne production happens naturally in hair follicles, an accumulation of these bacteria results in a secretion of enzymes resulting in acne inflammation. Put simply, some of us are more susceptible to these acne breakouts.
Regardless of the cause, all acne can become a permanent problem if you don’t deal with it. Your dermatologist can provide you with more information on how to control acne and how to come through to the other side without scars and other issues.
You can’t fix or prevent a problem without understanding the issue at its core. This is why we’ll go over the major types of acne. Like many conditions, acne too comes in many different forms.
Here are the three most common types of acne:
The most prevalent of all that falls into this category is acne vulgaris. There are several forms of this skin disorder, including blackheads, whiteheads, and different types of cysts – some more intrusive than others. These forms of acne appear when the pores become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. When whiteheads appear, the clog has happened just beneath the skin’s surface, where no air can get to them. When acne appears as a blackhead, the clog has happened near the surface of the skin where air can get to it. It is when the oil and dead skin oxidize as a result of coming into contact with the air that the colour changes to dark. Typically blackheads and whiteheads can be treated with an over-the-counter medicine.
There are more severe cases of acne vulgaris that occur when bacteria becomes mixed with the oil and dead skin cells. This type of occurrence is typically referred to as a papule or a pustule, depending on whether there is puss at the site. In cases of pustules, where puss is evident, there is typically a white head with a red, irritated surface. In the instance of a papule, there will be a red, sometimes painful to the touch, bump on the surface of the skin with no apparent puss. These two types of acne vulgaris can also be treated with over-the-counter medicine, with the option of a prescription strength alternative depending on the level of severity.
In more severe cases of acne vulgaris, cysts and nodules can develop. Typical characteristics of cysts are red bumps resembling a boil; they are often deeply rooted, painful, and larger than a typical white head. In the case of a nodule, they are hard, large, red bumps that are also deeply rooted in the skin. In these cases, a dermatologist should be consulted as to treatment methods.
This type of acne is typically a result of skin or hair care products that cause reactions with the skin. This condition usually occurs over a period of time, and while using the products small bumps will appear. These bumps can be itchy and resemble a rash in some cases. You can easily take care of this condition in most cases by ceasing to use the products that might be causing this condition.
Acne mechanica, usually found in athletes, is one where friction and placed on an area of skin and it becomes irritated. When the skin is devoid of access to air, this condition can also develop. There are many sports-related products that can be used to help with these types of conditions including special clothing or product that can be used while performing the sport. Also, maintaining good hygiene after these activities can help alleviate these symptoms.
Flawless skin is something that many people chase, and some are able to get pretty close. For many of us though, flaws in the skin are just another fact of life. Most often, the enemy of those looking for beautiful skin is acne. It is reported that 85% of all people will suffer from acne at one point or another in their lifetime. And it isn’t just young people who are experiencing breakouts; adults make up a large portion of the population that must deal with this condition as well.
Sometimes it can be hard to separate fact from fiction, but let’s take a look at a few common beliefs and acne advice:
Touching the Face
There is some truth to this age-old belief. If you think about the number of surfaces that your hands are exposed to on a daily basis, it isn’t tough to imagine the multitudes of germs that can accumulate. Resting your face on your hand, wiping away sweat, itching – these are all things that we do unconsciously and all things that may be wreaking havoc on your complexion. Look at where you breakouts tend to occur and pay attention to where you often touch your face; you might be able to pinpoint some habits that are resulting in acne.
We have more going on these days than ever, so it’s not surprising that stress levels are at an all-time high. Stress is big business too; think about all of the products that are marketed toward eliminating it. Stress is not a friend of the human body, but it is a factor in our daily lives. The result is releases of hormones and responses in the body that end up as blemishes on the face in addition to the other effects on the body. Look for ways to lower your stress levels with things such as exercise, breathing techniques, or possibly painting.
Getting a Tan
There are some out there who believe that getting some sun will help clear up their acne. This is just not the case. In addition to the damage to the skin that the sun can do, it will dry the skin out. This drying will result in the increased production of oils which can increase the chances of a breakout. At best, your tan will mask the breakouts due to the darker colour the skin, but it won’t work to clear the skin.
How to reduce the chance of having acne breakouts
Acne is common during puberty, but it can affect people of all ages. One of the most common reasons is due to hormone imbalances and changes, which is why women in pregnancy can find they suffer from it regularly. While hormones are a problem, there are some things that you can do to limit and prevent acne breakouts. Getting an acne outbreak really sucks! I always advocate that prevention is better than cure, so here are some small tips for those who are prone to acne outbreaks:
Keep your face clean and follow a good cleaning regimen
Keeping your skin clean—everywhere—is very important, even if you don’t have acne. You should wash your face twice a day and the rest of your body at least once a day. This removes the excess oil, dead skin cells and any impurities. Having a good regimen becomes a habit and won’t take too much time out of your day.
Avoid scrubbing too much. Using exfoliates is one thing, but you don’t want to use harsh washcloths on your face, for example. You run the risk of damaging the skin rather than opening and cleaning the pores.
Maintaining a clean face is the way to go, but that doesn’t mean washing your face every hour. In fact, that’s counter-intuitive since the oil which your face produces naturally does protect your face to a huge extent. I would recommend washing no more than twice a day, and always use a mild facial cleanser. Remember, the idea is not to wash your face until it feels totally dry (natural oil remember?) Avoid using too much force with your hands when cleansing or you run the risk of irritation and that’ll be disastrous!
Keep Your Skin Moisturised
Dry skin is painful and you want to avoid it. If you’re using acne products, you may find your skin dries out much easier. It’s important to look out for moisturisers that are made for your specific type of skin. They won’t cause acne and often help to protect open pores. Look out for those that are “noncomedogenic” to prevent acne breakouts.
Limit Your Makeup Use
Your skin benefits from being free from products. This includes foundations, eyeshadows and even concealers. It’s time to limit your makeup use to limit the number of breakouts that you have.
If you really need to use makeup, make sure you remove it before you go to bed. Wash your face properly, rather than using a baby wipe. The wipes won’t get the makeup out of the pores. Like moisturising creams, look for makeup that is noncomedogenic to help limit the chance of acne breaking out.
There is a hormonal aspect to acne, but there is also a natural element. It’s time to clean out your pores and keep them from blocking throughout the day. This way you will prevent acne breakouts.
Many cosmetics contain chemicals and ingredients which can clog the pores on your face, and that is the main cause of acne outbreaks!
I would say either you start applying less of such makeups, or go for non-comedogenic options. Don’t blindly purchase cosmetics because they are from your favourite brand, learn to read the product label thoroughly first before buying.
Fast foods are definitely a no-no since they are mostly oily and unhealthy. I have pretty much sworn off those greasy burgers and started eating more fruits and veggies. Watch your diet strictly for a week or two and you’ll see a huge improvement in your complexion for sure!
Superstitions regarding Acne Treatments
I am sure you have heard several stories of home therapies and odd treatments for acne, and many of you have likely tried them as well! Just do a quick search on the Internet and you will find several of them. Here are a few that I have heard:
This is an actual documented method for reducing acne that originated long ago. The story goes that by collecting the first of the period blood and using it ask a mask will not only prevent breakouts but will increase the overall beauty of the skin. It is thought that the first day’s period blood is the purest and has several homoeopathic uses.
Clean Your Plate
Many who grew up in Asian households have heard a hundred times to finish all of your rice so you can grow up strong. Old legends tell stories of wrongs that will happen by not finishing every last grain of rice in your bowl. One of the most memorable is that a future spouse will suffer from acne if you leave rice in your bowl. This one is tough to believe and I doubt there is any science to back this up!
It has been said that you should throw our your soya sauce if anyone in the house develops chicken pox. It has also been said in favour or preventing scarring or darkening of acne on the face. Some believe that the sauce (and even coffee) has an effect on the facial spots that will cause darkening.
This is made from crushing pearls, typically not ones that are of jewellery quality standards though. Made famous by Empress Wu Ze Tian, it is has been widely believed that the powder has enhancing effects on the skin, and even helps to rejuvenate and speed healing of the skin.