Your Skin: Everything You Need to Know About Acne
Words By: Bahare Mirzaei
We have all woken up on the day of a big party, a hot date or an exciting event with a huge pimple or outbreak on our faces – it is not ideal and it is not fun, but it happens to all of us, and unfortunately to some more than others. In this article we will dive into the very common skin condition; Acne. Read on for some clarification on what Acne actually is, and get some tips and tricks on how to keep your skin fresh and clear.
Facts First: What Is Acne?
Our skin has sebaceous glands (oil glands) that secrete grease to the surface of our skin through our hair follicles. Acne is a skin condition that occur when these hair follicles becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells, which leads to an inflammatory reaction and outbreaks. There are different types of Acne too; Acne Fulminans, Acne Mechina, and Acne Vulgaris. We’ll focus on Acne Vulgaris for now, the most common type.
Can Acne Vulgaris Appear In Different Forms?
Yes, Acne Vulgaris can make its appearance in the following forms:
Whiteheads: Clogged follicles under a thin layer of skin that appear as a white bump.
Blackheads: Clogged follicles that usually appear in a dilated skin pore and has a dark / blackish color (the color is caused by oxygen)
Papules: Inflamed lesions/bumps that may be red can be sensitive and painful.
Pustules: Inflamed bumps filled with yellow or white puss.
Nodules: Severe form of Acne that develops under the skin.
Cysts: Severe form of Acne that are inflamed and filled with pus. The cyst is usually extremely painful and always requires medical treatments.
So, Why Do We Get Acne?
There are different factors that can cause Acne:
Hormonal changes: This is common in teenagers, women and girls (hence, the period pimple).
Skin type: Some skin types are more prone to Acne than others, and if you have a ‘combination’ to ‘oily’ skin type, you are more likely to develop Acne than if you have a ‘normal’ to ‘dry’ skin type.
Friction/pressure on your skin: For example from the use of cell phones and tight clothes.
Stress: Again, stress causes a hormonal reaction, which again can lead to a breakout – this is why you might break out just before or straight after a big exam (or date).
Where On The Body Can Acne Break Out?
Acne can occur anywhere on your body where there are hair follicles. However, the most common areas are the face, chest, shoulders and back.
Dispelling 3 Common Myths About Acne:
“The Sun Cures Acne”
Yes, the skin does (to some extent) ‘dry out’ your pimples. However, the sun also dries out the rest of your skin which forces the sebaceous glands into overdrive. This only camouflages a future breakout and does not cure the condition.
“Dirty Skin Causes Acne”
NO, IT DOES NOT. First of all, there is no such thing as a “dirty” skin type; you are born with your skin type and regardless of how much you clean your skin, you will still have the same skin type. However, this is a stigma that people suffering from Acne often have to deal with, which often leads to over-cleansing of the skin. Did you know that over-cleansing your skin could actually lead to a breakout? Well, now you know.
“Eating Greasy Foods Causes Acne”
Although it’s still debated that some types of food make you break out faster than others, there is no scientific evidence that consuming greasy foods leads to Acne.
What Can I Do If I Have Acne Prone Skin Or Frequent Breakouts?
Localize The “Problem Area”
Where do you break out? Your chin, chest or forehead? Remember that most over-the-counter treatments contain active ingredients that aim to dry the Acne out. There is no point in drying out your forehead if you have a couple of spots on your chin. Your local pharmacy has point treatments, gel, gel creams and antibacterial ointments for treating your specific problem area. Always ask for help if you are unsure about what product to use. The most common anti-Acne ingredients in cosmetics are: Salicylic Acid and Zinc pca.
Always Always Always Cleanse Your Skin!
Morning and night, no exceptions. There are different types of cleansers for Acne prone skin, and they usually come in the form of a gel or tonic.
Choose a moisturizer that does not contain many oils (shea butter for instance) and use creams that have a lightweight formula.
Make Sure You Are Using The Right Products For Your Skin
Different types of Acne require different products. What worked for your best friend might therefore not work for you – ask for help at the pharmacy to make sure you’re using the right treatment.
Give your skin time. It typically takes the skin about four weeks to renew itself. Therefore, a new cream will not fix the problem in 30 minutes.
See A Dermatologist If The Problem Persists
Always seek medical help if you have tried cosmetic products without any visible effect, and especially if it’s a recurring problem or something that weighs hard on you. Remember, doctors are trained to deal with these kind of problems and can prescribe medicine if needed.
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