If you’re dealing with acne as a teen, just know that you can control it. Staying positive and adopting a skincare regimen that’s simple and convenient will see you through. Arm yourself with knowledge and take some comfort that it’s not your fault. Teen years are transitional and during this time our bodies start producing more androgen hormones, among other changes. More androgen results in more oil in your skin, which in turn…you know where this is going…means the stage is set for acne breakouts. It only takes some dead skin cells to mix with that extra oil and clog your pores. Acne bacteria are always around and inside your pores – they are part of your skin’s microbiome – and they will multiply in the blocked pore, adding to the debri, backing things up, causing inflammation, until a pimple appears. Good news is you can take steps to effectively keep those pores clear and keep wiping out acne bacteria.
Maybe you never had acne as a teen, or if you did it’s natural to think that as an adult you’ll be in the clear when it comes to acne. It’s only fair. So why do adults still get acne? It seems fairness has left the building—if it was ever there in the first place. Adults can get acne all the way into their 60’s, thank you very much. Many adults are fighting acne regularly in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Women more so than men, due to hormone fluctuations with menstrual cycles or pregnancy. Men can get acne from shaving. Medications that affect hormones might trigger acne in both men and women. Then there’s stress, harbringer of all sorts of health problems, possibly including acne. The cells that produce sebum have receptors for stress hormones, but more research is needed to understand exactly how stress might be causing acne.
Hormones are ultimately at the root of most acne breakouts. Increases in androgens, which include testosterone, triggers over-production of sebum and cell turnover at your pores. Androgen can increase with menstrual cycles, pregnancy, prescription medications and the normal stages of aging. Just like Goldilocks wanted in a bed, sebum levels in your skin need to be “just right”. Too much and your pores clog up with shedding cells and sebum -too little and your skin gets too dry
Named “Acne Mechanica” because it’s brought on by the pressure and friction of tight workout clothing, helmets, backpacks, sport bras, etc., against skin during athletic activities. Commonly occurring on the forehead from hats, and on the chin from helmet straps, but it will also make an appearance on the shoulders, chest, back, butt—anywhere that tight clothing or padding has trapped dirt, oil and bacteria against the skin and clogged our pores. Keep your workout clothes clean, as well as sheets and pillowcases.
Acne can leave dark spots behind after a pimple has resolved. Picking at pimples can cause acne marks as well. The dark spot is extra melanin (pigment) produced by your skin as a repsonse to inflammation. The medical term is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH. These can take months to disappear. Acne marks are escpecially sensitive to sun exposure, and could darken even further. If you have to be in the sun—always, always, always protect yourself with sunscreen. Choose an SPF 30 (minimum) non-comedogenic, oil free formula.
ACNE WITH REDNESS
When acne bacteria is trapped and multiplying inside pores, skin releases an inflammatory response including cells that make blood vessels dilate, resulting in a red acne mark. Acne marks do disappear over time. Larger areas of redness that are spread across the nose and cheeks, or generally over the face, could be a sign of acne rosacea. See a dermatologist to know for sure.
DERMATOLOGISTS GRADE COMMON FACIAL ACNE INTO THREE LEVELS OF SEVERITY.
Why acne affects one person and not another is still unclear, really. Factors include genetics, hormone changes, stress, pore-clogging topical products, medications that affect hormones, environment, and diet.
HOW ACNE STARTS
1 Hormones cause increased sebum (oil) production in the skin
2 These same hormones produce new surface skin cells, causing old cells to shed
3 Pores clog up with dead skin cells and sebum
4 Acne bacteria multiply inside clogged pores, creating more debri and often inflammation
5 Inflammation results in breakouts ranging from pimples to painful cysts.
EXCESS OIL AND ACNE BACTERIA – RECIPE FOR BREAKOUTS
• Shedding cells trap sebum and prevent it from exiting pores to the skin’s surface.
• Acne bacteria react to the trapped sebum and try to consume it.
• Acne bacteria are always inside and around pores, as part of the skin’s normal microbiome.
• Acne bacteria thrive where there is no oxygen, as in a clogged pore.
• The trapped mixture of sebum, shed cells, and multiplying bacteria can result in inflammation.
• Hello zits, ranging from whiteheads all the way to painful cysts.
If you know certain foods cause you to break out, pay attention and avoid them. If you’re not sure, some research shows that high-glycemic index food may cause acne. These are foods that raise your blood glucose/sugar level, which in turn triggers androgen production and from there increases sebum in the skin. Examples include white bread, white rice, chips, french fries, doughnuts, pastries, and drinks or foods with added sugar.
HANDS BELOW YOUR FACE
Our hands come in contact with every imaginable surface harboring who-knows-what.
Train yourself— don’t touch your face. Who knows what you’ll transfer.
NO PIMPLE POPPING
You know you want to pop that pimple, or pick at it, but resist the urge. It will explode inward as well as outward, driving bacteria deeper and causing more breakouts or possibly a painful cyst.
Keep your towels and sheets clean. Keep hair away from your face when sleeping. Wash your face before bed- always!