What is Acne?
Acne is a pretty big irritation for many people. There are very few things worse than preparing for a big event and then waking up with a huge pimple on your chin on the day of the event.
Many people already know what acne is – it’s not a pleasant thing for most people. In case you didn’t though, here’s everything that you need to know about acne and how you can help to prevent it and keep it away in the future.
So what are the symptoms of acne? Here are just a few.
Blackheads can be pretty problematic for many people. Again, this sort of acne will start to appear whenever the skin gets very oily and when dead skin starts to build up inside of the pores.
The pore widens as a result of the buildup and then you see a black-colored blemish on the face or body. They can sometimes be treated with retinoids – squeezing them is a bad idea.
Whiteheads can sometimes show up on the body when you have acne. The problem is that you can end up having more whiteheads and even acne scars when you pick at the whiteheads.
They often form when there is an excessive amount of oil and dead skin cells on the skin. This can cause blemishes on the skin.
Pimples are one of the most annoying things when it comes to acne. They can appear when a lot of oil, dead skin and bacteria make their way into your pore.
The bacteria can start to multiply thanks to the oil, and this can make the pore swell up which results in a pimple. They can often be treated after a while using a substance like retinoid and azelaic acid.
Cysts & Nodules
You can also have acne cysts or nodules. This is when the inflammation goes deep inside of the skin, making you develop a nodule or a cyst.
Acne can occur on the back, the face and on the chest, though it usually just happens on face. It can be particularly common among teenagers, but it can also flare up due to fluctuating hormones in a woman’s menstrual cycle, or it can be caused by things such as stress.
It can also be caused by an underlying condition.
Acne can occur for a wide number of different reasons, as we’ve discussed previously, but there are certain things that can cause acne to flare up.
The main cause of acne is when the pores on your skin start to get clogged up with oil and other bacteria.
It can be caused by too much oil being made by the follicles in your skin, by dead skin building up inside of the pores, and bacteria accumulating inside of the pores.
When the bacteria and oil can’t get out of the pore, the pimple ends up being formed.
There are numerous different treatment options out there for people that have acne, though the treatment can often depend on the reason why it’s developed to begin with.
You can often get treatment for acne over the counter, but if this isn’t working you can also ask your healthcare practitioner to prescribe you stronger medications.
A dermatologist appointment may also be handy.
There are a few types of treatment, too:
Topical Treatments – Topical treatments are pretty common. Most people will be prescribed things such as retinoids or drugs that are similar to it. You can find them in many forms such as gels and lotions, and you simply follow the guidance on the medication to see how often it is applied.
You may also be prescribed antibiotics, which are generally applied in the morning in addition to a retinoid that you use in the evening. They are generally used in conjunction with a retinoid. Other topical treatments include azelaic acid, salicylic acid and dapsone.
Oral Treatments – alternatively there are also oral medications available. Some people may be prescribed antibiotics that you will need to take orally.
Combined contraceptives are also a common thing prescribed to treat acne. They also have extra benefits such as protecting women from pregnancy and regulating problematic menstrual periods.
Different therapies – You can also sometimes have therapies for acne, such as light therapy or chemical peels. Sometimes steroid injections are also applied.
When to See a Doctor
Acne can often be treated at home, but as with any medical issue, there may come a point where it is best to speak with a doctor.
Some situations when you may wish to see a doctor include if you have already tried treating the acne at home, such as by washing the skin with a suitable skin wash, and it hasn’t worked for a long period of time.
Visiting a doctor is also recommended if you are developing huge pimples that may be filled with fluids.
This is cystic acne which may need further treatment from a doctor.
Basically, you should see a doctor if your acne is interfering with your life. For instance, it may be affecting your mood, self esteem or it may be stopping you from doing things that you normally do.
So we’ve established the cause of acne, but what can make it more likely to occur in a person?
What makes you more likely to experience acne? There are a few risk factors to note.
Age and Hormones – You aren’t immune to acne because you’re over a certain age, but people in their teenage years may be more likely to get acne.
This is mainly due to hormonal changes as young people enter puberty.
You can also get acne during pregnancy and the postpartum period, babies can get it, it can happen during perimenopause and menopause, and it can also occur as a PMS symptom. In short, hormones can cause total havoc on the skin.
Genetic influences – if your parents or family members had acne, then you may also find that you are more likely to have it too. It sucks, but it’s true.
Certain cosmetic products – not all cosmetics are for everyone. Some people have skin that is more sensitive, and if the skin does not react to a new cosmetic product you may find yourself having breakouts a couple of days later.
Most cosmetics are designed to be non comedogenic these days so this is slightly less likely to occur, but it can sometimes happen.
Smoking – some older people can occasionally get acne if they spoke
Medications – there are certain medications like lithium or medicines that contain steroids that can result in acne for certain people.
Putting Pressure on the skin – if you put pressure on your skin a lot, such as wearing headbands across your forehead, you may experience some breakouts as a result due to pressure on your skin.
Acne isn’t usually much of a problem in most cases and it’s something that will go away with time, but sometimes it can result in complications later down the line.
For instance, you may develop excoriated acne.
This is basically where you scratch at or pick the acne marks on the skin and this can cause injury to your skin.
It can result in you getting bumps on the skin that may not go away, in addition to scabs and scratches. It may even result in cysts.
Acne can also sometimes result in scarring, especially if the acne is inflamed. In some situations you may even get scarring.
Other complications include post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and this is when the skin becomes discolored after the acne has gone away. It happens in a lot of people with acne, and it generally tends to fade away after a while.
Acne Mistakes – Acne Myths Debunked!
Acne can be a real pain for many people, but the amount of myths out there can make understanding the truth about acne even more difficult. With that in mind, here are just a few of the myths about acne that you need to know about.
5 Acne Myths Debunked
Myth Number 1 – You Can Heal Acne with Toothpaste
Pretty much everyone has heard this old wives tale. Somebody would have told you that you can cure your acne by using toothpaste. So you go into your bathroom and smother your face in toothpaste, but your acne doesn’t go away – what gives?
There is a little bit of truth to it, in a way. There are a number of different ingredients in toothpaste that can sometimes dry out the skin and this may in turn result in your acne swellings reducing a little bit. It most certainly is not the best course of action, however.
In fact, toothpaste could even be damaging to your skin. It’s not designed for your face, that’s the simple to truth. It may end up negatively affecting the PH balance of your skin, and this could result in all sorts of nasty side effects such as burning and rashes.
It can also cause the skin to become excessively dry, which is also bad for your acne.
In this case, it may be best just to completely stay away from the toothpaste and to buy a dedicated spot treatment instead. Yes, this will cost more money, but this is designed to help with your acne. You also don’t need to worry about your skin smelling like freshly cleaned teeth all day if you don’t want it to.
Myth Number 2 – Acne Only Affects Teenagers
You don’t need to worry about acne caused by those pesky hormones when you’re older than 19, right? Wrong. While acne can be a particularly big problem for teenagers, there’s actually a large percentage of people that can get acne breakouts in between age 11 and 30 – four in five people, to be specific!
The sad truth is that our hormones don’t just cease to exist when you leave your teenage years. When you are a teenager just going through puberty, you are likely to get an increased amount of androgens, and as a result of this you could potentially have more oily skin.
It affects more than just teenagers though – you can even get it throughout your 20s and up to your 40s and beyond.
Unfortunately women are also more likely to get hormonal acne than men are. This is mainly as a result of the hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle. It’s a perfectly normal thing that you don’t need to worry about, unless it’s having an adverse effect on your quality of life.
If you are struggling a lot with hormonal acne, you can sometimes get birth control pills from your healthcare provider that may help. There are also a range of acne treatments that we’ve mentioned above, and some at home treatments that we will go into later on!
Myth Number 3 – Your Acne is Mainly Caused by Your Diet
You’ve probably been told countless times that if you just eat a little better you can expect your acne to clear up in no time. Well, while your diet can sometimes have an impact on your acne, it often isn’t the main cause.
There isn’t one specific food that can cause you to have acne, so you don’t need to put that chocolate or pizza down. You can have it every now and again! As it turns out, foods that are high in grease and oil don’t have a massive impact on your risk for getting acne.
With that being said, you should be a little more careful with those jelly sweets or chocolates. Some studies have found that they could have a small impact on your acne as it can influence insulin production.
The research isn’t conclusive on this though, since the studies have only been focused on people that have diabetes.
Things such as your environment are far more likely to have an effect on your acne. For instance, if you work in kitchens or other places where oil is rampant, you may be more likely to develop acne because you are frequently exposed to oil which can result in blocked pores and pimples.
With all of this being said, having a good, well balanced diet is good for your general health, which could be good for your acne too! Trying to get a few more fruits and vegetables into your day can’t hurt, so why not give it a try?
Myth Number 4 – You Should Avoid Moisturizer if You Have Oily Skin
Now this is a pretty common myth. It’s actually pretty easy to see the logic behind this. After all, it’s excessive oil that causes acne, so it would make sense that using a moisturizer is a terrible idea.
This is most certainly not the case. Just like the internal parts of our bodies need hydration, so does our skin – it’s our largest organ after all!
If your skin is well hydrated then it’s more likely to be healthy. The oils in your skin aren’t hydrating it – sebum production is a natural thing but your skin needs to be hydrated in other ways. If it isn’t hydrated then you can have all sorts of other issues, affecting the health and appearance of it.
If your skin is dehydrated for long periods of time, it is more likely to become inflamed, infected, age more quickly and you’re more likely to have wrinkles later down the line.
If your skin is dehydrated it actually could make it even more likely for you to get breakouts down the road.
Of course, there’s one thing to keep in mind. If you have oily skin, you should probably try and find a moisturizer that doesn’t have a lot of oil in it. There are great moisturizers on the market that are made specifically for oily skin.
You should look out for moisturizers that are occlusive, humectant and emollient. Don’t use anything that contains cocoa butter, petroleum, mineral oil, or anything with fragrances that may not react well to the skin. It’s just about shopping smartly – your skin will thank you for it!
You should keep in mind that while moisturizer isn’t going to make the skin worse, it doesn’t mean that it will instantly cure it either. It’s just good for your skin in general, it’s not necessarily an acne treatment in and of itself.
Myth Number 5 – Acne is Caused by Poor Hygiene
This common myth couldn’t be further from the truth. Admit it, you’ve more than likely heard someone before who has said that a certain person is having breakouts because they don’t take care of their skin properly. Perhaps they don’t wash or moisturize properly. Perhaps they didn’t clear off their makeup.
Of course, having a good hygiene routine is very important for the health of your skin, but it doesn’t cause acne. As we’ve already mentioned, acne is caused by a build up of oil in the skin, not by neglecting to wash your face.
You are less likely to have oil build up on your skin if you wash more often, but a lack of hygiene is certainly not the cause. You could have the perfect hygiene routine and you still might end up getting acne breakouts.
Washing the face also isn’t necessarily the best way to stop breakouts from happening either, since acne can be caused by so many different things that have nothing to do with your personal hygiene.
Washing the face can remove any bacteria off the skin but it isn’t a fool proof way to get rid of those pimples. Your skin is always producing sebum, and washing your face isn’t going to change that.
In addition to this, it also isn’t true that wearing makeup will cause your acne to get even worse. Sure, makeup isn’t necessarily going to do your skins any favors, but it doesn’t make it worse.
With that being said, if you do tend to get acne a lot then it may be worth getting rid of any makeup items that can cause your skin to produce more oil. This means choosing products that are oil free and non comedogenic.
This will help you to introduce less oil to your skin. Powder based formulas are usually a great choice, especially since some of them have ingredients such as silica and zinc oxide that can actually absorb excessive sebum.
Ultimately if you are concerned about acne, it’s always best to speak to your healthcare provider if nothing else has worked to get rid of it. They may be able to give you some insight into remedies that may help, or they can give you some medications that can help you out.
Acne Scars: How to Treat Them
There are also a great deal of myths out there about acne scars.
For instance, getting a suntan will not minimize acne scars, and acne scars won’t last forever in most instances.
You don’t need to use a great deal of products to treat your acne scars, and thankfully preventing acne scars is indeed possible, despite popular belief.
Acne can often be treated by cosmetic surgery, but the truth is that you don’t need to go this far in many circumstances.
There are a bunch of treatments that you can do from home. With that in mind, it’s always best to speak to a dermatologist first if you can.
One way that you can treat acne scars is to get products that contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids, known as AHAs for short. They are generally present in a lot of products that are made to treat acne, and they are designed to get rid of any dead skin and to unclog your pores.
You can also use lactic acids, which are present in a lot of different serums and peels on the market. Retinoids are another good choice too, as is sunscreen and salicylic acid.
Most of the time though, your acne scars will begin to fade over time. These treatments can often be helpful for reducing the appearance of scars and helping them to heal more quickly, however.
Skin Care & Makeup Tips for Acne-Prone Skin
So what do you need to do in your skin care routine to help your acne? And what about makeup? Here’s everything that you need to know.
Skin Care Techniques for Acne-Prone Skin
Here are just a few of the things that you need to know about taking care of your acne prone skin!
Use Products and Techniques that Fit Your Skin Type
While oily skin can be particularly prone to getting acne, other types of skin can also get acne.
For this reason, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you are using products that are good for your skin type.
There are a few different types of skin, such as:
Normal – This skin type doesn’t get many imperfections and breakouts are mostly rare. It works well with a wide range of products.
Dry – Dry skin tends to show pores that are barely visible, and the complexion is usually pretty dull and rough. You may also be prone to getting irritated red patches, and the skin can sometimes peel and crack. Use products designed for dry skin.
Oily skin – this is the skin type most prone to getting acne since oily skin produces a lot of sebum. Your complexion may be shinier looking too.
Combination skin – This is usually a combination of dry and oily skin, so some sections may be dry and others may be oily. This may mean that different products are needed for different parts of the skin, or you can get products designed for combination skin.
Sensitive Skin – Sensitive Skin may not always react well to all products, as it can often be irritated easily. It can sometimes have a habit of getting inflamed.
Don’t Wash Your Skin Too Frequently
You may think that it’s better for you to wash your skin all the time, but this is not the case. Your skin can start to dry out and this can result in inflammation. You don’t need to wash more than twice a day, but keep an eye on how your skin reacts to your routine.
In fact, according to a study, washing just twice a day can be very effective in reducing acne flare ups.
When washing your skin, all you need is a mild cleanser. You don’t need anything overly expensive or intricate, just a standard facial cleanser. Just make sure that there aren’t a great deal of ingredients or fragrances in it.
Exfoliate and Moisturize
Make sure that you don’t forget these two vital tips! Moisturize to keep your skin hydrated. You also need to exfoliate to remove any dead skin cells that are remaining. Using a 2 percent salicylic mask can be helpful, or you could use an electric face brush.
Follow the directions to see how often you should exfoliate since it can differ from product to product. For instance, if you are using a lotion or a mask it can be handy to use it around once or twice a week.
Use Acne Friendly Ingredients
You should also make sure that you are using acne friendly ingredients, such as activated clay and charcoal, benzoyl peroxide, retinol and salicylic acid.
Makeup Techniques for Covering Acne
If you have acne breakouts currently on the skin, it is often best to leave the skin to breathe for a little while.
With that being said, sometimes makeup is unavoidable, such as for big events such as birthday parties and weddings.
How do you cover those pimples in those situations?
First of all, make sure that you’re using the right sort of products. If you have oily skin that’s acne prone, then it’s worth trying a powder based foundation.
For instance, you could get a mineral formula as they can often absorb the extra oil on the skin. The makeup doesn’t slip off through the day either, which is always a win.
Powder foundations are generally much better as they don’t clog up your pores.
You should also try to start off, after you’ve primed and prepped your skin, with a color correcting concealer. While it is often best not to layer too much makeup onto the skin, a color correction concealer is a good idea if your normal concealer just isn’t doing it for you.
If your pimple is red and scary looking, get a green concealer and cover it. If blackheads are your problem, a yellow concealer can help.
Once you have done this, you should then lighten it up using a concealer. Use a lighter concealer first, then layer a concealer that matches your skin tone on top.
Then you will apply your foundation on top. If you’re using a powder based foundation then you will need a brush to do so.
Finally, once the day is done, make sure that you wash all of the makeup off your face. You don’t want the makeup to build up on your face and clog up your pores!
10 Oil-Fighting Tips That Stop Your Face From Getting Breakouts
- Make Sure Your Face is Clean
We briefly mentioned this earlier, but it’s very important to make sure that your face is clean. Try to clean your face twice a day using a gentle cleanser, preferably containing benzoyl peroxide.
This is great for making sure your pores aren’t clogged and for getting rid of any bacteria that may have built up on the face throughout the day. You just need to wash the face with your hands rather than using a washcloth or an exfoliating brush.
You don’t want to scrub it so hard that you damage the skin, as this can sometimes encourage more acne to appear. Make sure that you’re keeping the skin well moisturized, too.
- Minimize Makeup Usage
Makeup can be pretty handy when you have a breakout since it can help you to hide the pimples which may make you feel insecure. With that being said, it’s best to minimize how much you use it when you’re in the middle of an acne breakout.
Make sure that you thoroughly wash your makeup off at the end of the day, and use products that are noncomedogenic.
- Try to Keep a Healthy Diet
The link between ‘unhealthy’ foods and acne is a minimal one. With that being said though, eating healthily may be able to help you to avoid breakouts in the future since you are eating more healthily.
Try to eat things with more fruits and vegetables, and keep a balanced diet as this may possibly help your skin to get a little clearer.
- Pay Attention to Your Hair
Some people also have oily hair. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you do have oily hair it may be worth washing it slightly more often.
Try to keep your hair out of your face too, as this may help you to minimize the amount of breakouts that you get on the top of your head and on your face. Beware of the products that you use too, as some hair products can sometimes make acne worse.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated
You are probably sick of hearing everyone from your mother to your next door neighbor telling you to drink more water.
Need to lose weight? Drink more water. Want to go to Harvard? Drink more water. Want to beat that difficult Final Fantasy boss? Drink more water.
Of course, we are exaggerating here, but there’s a lot of merit to the suggestion to drink more water. Staying hydrated is important for all parts of your body, from your metabolism to – you guessed it – your skin.
Your skin is the largest organ on your body so you need to make sure that it’s well hydrated.
Sure, your acne isn’t going to suddenly disappear the minute you start drinking more H20, but after time you may begin to see a bit more of a difference. The next time you want to reach for your soda can, perhaps it may be better to grab a nice bottle of water?
- Don’t Pick at Your Pimples – Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face!
While it may be tempting to try and pop that pimple – and for many people it can actually be a fun thing to do – you really should try to avoid it. If you want to fulfill your pimple popping urge, put a YouTube video on. There are plenty of pimple poppers there.
Stay away from popping your pimples though. Popping pimples can cause the bacteria to spread, and can open up wounds on your face. That can make your acne take longer to heal.
Just grab a decent spot treatment and wait it out. It may be annoying but it will get you better results in the long run.
Oh, and that’s not all. If you can, you should really try to keep your hands away from your face in general. Your hands transfer any dirt on your fingers right onto your face when you touch it.
Some of us touch our face without knowing it, but if you can consciously avoid doing it then you really should do so.
- Learn to Manage Your Stress
There are a lot of risk factors for acne, and some of them cannot be controlled. Stress is something that you can control, however. Stress affects all parts of your body, from your digestive system to your cardiovascular system.
It also affects your skin. This is because when you’re stressed your body releases a hormone called androgen. This can have a big impact on the oil glands in your skin, and too much oil can cause acne.
Naturally, you can’t just stop stressing out when someone tells you to. If we could do that then there most likely wouldn’t be hundreds of books on the market on stress management. With that being said, there are certainly some stress management tools that you can use.
For instance, you can practice mindfulness, meditation and yoga. Try to do things that can help you to relax. It’s not always easy, but if you can learn to manage your stress somehow your skin will thank you for it.
- Wipe Away Your Sweat After Exercise
Some things can really cause us to sweat, such as the summer heat or a hardcore HIIT workout. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s always a good idea to have a towel on hand so you can wipe the sweat away afterwards.
The moisture from sweat can be a prime way to help bacteria grow, which in turn can result in acne. All you need to do is wipe your face with a clean towel after you work out and maybe apply a cleanser. It’s an easy step that can go a long way.
- Make Sure You Clean Makeup Applicators
Got a beauty brush or a foundation brush that you like to use on the regular? Make sure you clean it well after use. The last thing that you want is for dirt and bacteria to build on the brush, and for you to then put all of that first and bacteria onto your face.
Make sure that you wash your brushes at least every 2 weeks, and wash your sponges once a week at the bare minimum. You can get a brush cleaner for this, or you can use some facial cleanser. Allow them to air dry or lay them on a towel to air dry. Simple!
- Keep Out of The Sun
If you can it’s often best to stay out of the sun as much as you can. This is because the sun can result in more redness and inflammation, and certain acne medications can also mean that your skin reacts more strongly to the sun.
Wear protective clothing when you are going out in the sun and apply non comedogenic sunscreen. Keep yourself protected if you are going to go outside in the sun.
Acne can be annoying, but it doesn’t need to keep on plaguing you. With the guidance mentioned here, you can keep acne at bay a little more easily.
Just remember – acne is a normal thing, and if it does end up affecting your life, don’t be afraid to speak to a dermatologist or a doctor for more guidance.