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.