Everything About Acne and How to Treat It
What is Acne?
Acne is a result of the hair follicles in your skin being clogged with sebum (an oily liquid we all have) as well as dead skin cells and dirt. When the follicle becomes clogged, bacteria forms and this causes your pore to rupture underneath, which results in inflammatory acne. Fluctuations in hormones (specifically male hormones such as androgens) can also cause it, which is typically why most teenagers suffer.
Skin care products you use on your face can also result in breakouts depending on your skin type and your skin’s sensitivity. Typically, oily skinned people should avoid highly comedogenic oils, such as coconut oil, or soaps that are too drying. Coconut oil clogs pores (a major cause of acne) and drying soaps have a high pH which destroys your skin’s acid mantle and can result in acne.
Types of Acne
Cysts: Caused by a deep infection in your pore as a result of the pore being clogged. Often painful, large, red, filled with puss and appears to be under the skin.
Nodules: Large, inflamed breakouts that are usually painful. Typically forms in groups.
Papule: Small bumps on face that are red and appear closed.
Pustules: Medium sized bump with white or yellow center.
Blackheads/Comedonal Acne: Occur when a hair follicle becomes clogged with sebum, has a black appearance as a result of oxidation and melanin production. Also known as an open comedone.
Whiteheads: A result of dead skin cells, sebum, and bacteria being clogged inside a pore. Appear as little white bumps that are not inflamed and cannot be popped. Also known as a closed comedone.
How To Treat Acne
First, not all acne is treated the same. Some acne requires prescription medication while other forms can be treated with OTC products. The most commonly known OTC treatments that actually work are salicylic acid, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide. While you should incorporate these, with inflammatory acne, you should also focus greatly on calming your skin down with ingredients such as aloe vera gel, camellia sinensis leaf extract, green tea, and snail mucin just to name a few.
An anti-inflammatory, beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that exfoliates your skin and unclogs your pores. It especially works on blackheads because those comedones are open making it easier for the salicylic acid to penetrate into them. It is lipophilic meaning it is able to break down the oil clogging your pores, a property other acids do not have.
An alpha hydroxy acid that has incredibly anti-inflammatory, anti-redness, and humectant properties. Has a large molecular size making it suitable for those with sensitive skin who are also acne prone.
An effective treatment because of it’s antibacterial and drying properties. Acne forms when a clogged pore becomes infected with bacteria, benzoyl peroxide kills this bacteria as well as dries the pus that often comes with acne.
Oils with a high percentage of linoleic acid as well as vitamin e and a, such as sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and rosehip oil, are also proven to help treat acne. This is because people with acne tend to have one thing in common: a lack of linoleic acid. Other oils such as borage seed and evening primrose oil are anti-inflammatory so they help with acne significantly by calming down the inflammation.
A natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredient that is often used to treat severe acne and is very difficult to find in an OTC product. It is also proven to reduce the production of keratin, which is linked to promoting acne-causing bacteria growth. Azelaic acid is also known to inhibit tyrosinase production which causes hyperpigmentation, meaning it can also treat PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation).
Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that is often prescribed but is starting to appear more on store shelves in weaker dosages. It increases cell turnover and this results in clearer pores as well as less severe scarring.
- Keep your skin clean
- Avoid using pore-clogging products
- Exfoliate often with AHAs/BHAs to clear pores
- Keep your skin hydrated and moisturized
- Avoid drying products
- Avoid touching your face frequently
- Change pillowcase often
- Observe acne triggers
- Reduce dairy intake
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