Acne is a significant problem for many people. Whether they have occasional breakouts, regular monthly attacks, or a more long-term affliction, acne can result in a lack of confidence and emotional distress. Thankfully, there are a number of options available to both conceal breakouts and reduce the likelihood that they will occur.
The major culprit is sebum. Everyone produces sebum. It’s part of the skin’s natural defences and helps to protect it against bacteria and stay hydrated. This is one of the reasons that using a harsh cleanser that strips away the sebum and other oils on the face is a bad idea. Sebum is a necessary part of healthy skin.
However, sebum production is regulated by a complex mechanism that can be upset by a variety of factors, including hormone changes, age, genetics, the environment, diet, among many others. Hormone levels are especially important. That’s why women get spots at particular points in the menstrual cycle. Contrary to commonly held beliefs, eating fatty foods does not cause acne, but general health does affect hormone levels.
Acne is also not a sign of uncleanliness. Even the cleanest people can get acne, and overuse of some cleansing products can actually increase sebum levels and make it worse. Washing away surface oils does nothing to prevent acne because the problem is deeper down.
Too much sebum leads to facial pores being blocked by sebum plugs, which create the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. These bacteria, combined with the body’s immune response to them, are what causes the visual manifestation of acne.
Don’t be tempted to squeeze or pick at spots. With the exception of very serious outbreaks, which should be treated by a dermatologist, pimples will clear up by themselves with a little help. Squeezing or popping them can lead to scarring.
Makeup can sometimes aggravate or cause acne, so if pimples appear after you use a new product, it’s a good idea to use something different to see if your skin clears up.
For some women, acne is very embarrassing, and the natural response is to cover it with a heavy layer of makeup. Unfortunately, too much makeup can interfere with the healing process and make things worse, so go easy on the concealer.
There are many products available that are specially designed to help with acne. Choose oil-free makeup and creams, especially those containing salycilic acid, glycolic acid, or hydroquinone that will lighten the appearance of pimples and scars, and help remove dead skin.
Over-the-counter preparations containing retinol can have a positive impact on acne. Retinol breaks down into a chemical called retinoid, which is similar to vitamin A, and is one of the ways that the body regulates sebum production.
Prescription creams are available that contain retenoid itself. These are very effective at reducing the appearance of pimples by limiting the production of sebum.
Some essential oils, like Rose Hip Seed Oil also contain retenoids.
Because sebum production is directly influenced by hormones, altering the levels of those hormones can reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
Androgens, which are male sex hormones, promote the production of sebum, and estrogens, female sex hormones, can inhibit that production. The contraceptive pill, which contains androgen blockers and estrogens, can help regulate the balance of hormones and reduce periodic acne outbreaks.
There are also specifically designed androgen blockers available from physicians which have the same effect.
Accutane(isotretinoin) is a retinoid treatment that is taken orally in pill form, rather than in creams. It is a very effective treatment for acne, but, because of the serious and sometimes permanent side effects that it can cause, its use is heavily regulated. Accutane should only be considered in the case of serious and long-lasting acne.
Have our suggestions worked for you in the past? Or do you have another acne fighting strategy? Feel free to share your advice and experiences in the comments
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