What do singer Katy Perry and actress Emma Stone have in common? Apart from being talented beautiful and famous these 2 are amongst the many celebrities who have admitted that they struggled with acne when they were a bit younger. So yes, it can affect anyone and everyone.
For teens with this all too common skin condition, knowing that acne does not discriminate may be somewhat comforting. We say only somewhat because truth be told acne is annoying, somewhat even painful. It can cause serious confidence-knocking insecurities and may leave reminders of its unpleasant presence as scars.
Getting rid of it quickly is usually the first priority, but understanding the meanings of how and why behind the condition is key to dealing with it.
So how can you save you face in a literal way? To find out, keep reading.
What Is Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition that causes black, white or red spots usually on the face. It can also affect the back and the top of the chest. Most people affected are aged between 12 and 25 years but some older people are affected.
The various forms of acne include:
- Whiteheads: You have a whitehead when your pore is blocked, closes and then starts bulging out.
- Blackheads: A blackhead is similar to a whitehead but it stays open and the top surface darkens. This is not the result of dirt but rather the exposure of the open pore to air.
- Pimples: When the walls of a pre get damaged, bacteria can find their way under the skin causing an infection or a pimple. Pimples can just be small, pink bumps on the skin’s surface. They can also be red with a yellowish ‘point’ at the top.
- Cysts or nodules: These are painful larger infections that are deeply embedded in the skin.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused by blocked sebaceous glands in the skin. Dead skin cells, oil and hair create a tiny plug which allows the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes to breed under the skin. This entire process causes inflammation in the skin which results in redness.
The end result is blackheads, pimples otherwise known as pustules and painful cysts. These tend to occur in areas where there are high numbers of sebaceous glands and generally more exposed to external factors which draw more attention for the bacteria (face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms).
Fluctuating Hormones: Acne is typically associated with the hormonal swings of puberty. But any time hormones fluctuate, acne can flare. Hormones, androgen and testosterone increase during the teenage years, making teens the age group most affected.
Hormonal fluctuations that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, ovarian cysts, stopping or starting birth control pills and menopause are believed to be a major cause of acne in adults. This is known as “adult acne”.
Products Used On Hair and Skin: It is important to use products that are non-comedogenic. This means products applied to oil, lotions and skin creams that do not block pores.
Taking Medications: Acne can be triggered by taking certain medications such as anticonvulsants and corticosteroids.
Mechanical Occlusion: Wearing a sweatband, tight cap, backpack or helmet can cause acne in the areas where the skin is physically occluded.
Genetic Syndromes and Factors: Acne is extremely common, but there have been some studies suggesting a family disease link. This is caused by multiple mutations in genes that work together.
What Should You Do if You Have Acne?
The good news is that most people wave goodbye to acne by the end of their teenage years. But in the meantime, here are some tips to deal with it throughout that process.
Tackle it head on. As the good old saying prevails; “prevention is better than cure”. You can do this by visiting your doctor or dermatologist sooner rather than later. Even if the breakout is just mild. A prescribed topical vitamin A cream is a first-line treatment that can help to ensure beautiful skin, prevent acne from worsening and avoid scarring.
Have the right routine. Wash your face thoroughly twice a day, as well as after exercise. Use a mild face wash specifically developed for acne-prone skin or your specific skin type. Follow up with a toner and a light, non-greasy moisturiser.
Hands off. Resist the temptation to squeeze or pick as spots. It can make matters worse by driving bacteria deeper into the skin as well as spreading it from one are to another. It can also cause more inflammation and at its worst, permanent scarring.
Be healthy. Researchers have found that certain diet habits may be linked to acne. The bottom line is to eat a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables every day. Do not forget to drink a substantial amount of water.
Other things to keep in mind include choosing oil-free or non-comedogenic options when looking at skincare products. Use oil-free sunscreen to protect your skin.
Also keep in mind stress does not cause acne but can aggravate it. It is therefore important to find time to relax every day.
Can You Save Your Face?
Well if you have tried all the recommendations above and your acne is not improving, visit your doctor or dermatologist. Various treatments exist to deal with acne, including antibiotics, the pill and other prescription medications.
Others have successfully dealt with acne and so can you. Don’t let acne stop you from chasing your dreams. Acne does not define who you are!