Today I would like to talk about acne. Almost everyone, at some point in their lives, had to deal with acne. In general acne is active in teenage skin, however this is also common amongst many adults in their late 20’s, early 30’s. Just a little over a year ago I finally managed to clear my acne with the right products, dietary changes, suplementation and excercise. ” Now why at the age of (then) 32 did you have acne Elize?” you may ask me. The answer is quite simple – hormonal changes.
90% of the time acne is caused by hormonal changes in the body, this is also why it mostly affects teenagers during puberty. Facial skin is the most common area for acne to develop, however it can also, in severe cases, be found on areas such as the scalp, chest, back, neck and shoulders.
- Our skin produces a certain amount of sebum through the sebum glands. These are situated next to hair follicles. Sebum production is controlled by certain hormones and in acne skin this is caused by over production of sebum.
- Because of this over production of sebum, it changes the skin bacterum called P.acnes to become more irritated and aggressive which in turn causes the inflammation and pus which can be very uncomfortable and tender.
- Due to the imbalance of these hormones, this inflammation causes the inner lining of the hair follicle to thicken causing open pores to become blocked (congested) Due to this blockage, the walls of the hair follicle expands and develops a red, tender and pussy lump.
There are six main types of spots caused by acne:
- Blackeads – these small black or yellowish bumps that develop on the skin are not filled with dirt, but are black because the inner lining of the hair follicle produces pigmentation (colouring)
- Whiteheads – these have a similar appearance to blackheads, but may be firmer and won’t empty when squeezed. It is also very difficult to extract
- Papules – small red bumps that may feel tender or sore
- Pustules – similar to papules, but have a white tip in the centre, caused by a build-up of pus
- Nodules – large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin and can be painful
- Cysts – the most severe type of spot caused by acne; they’re large pus-filled lumps that look similar to boils and carry the greatest risk of causing permanent scarring
Why does acne only affect some people more than others?
- The sad truth is that acne is known to be hereditary. If one or both of your parents have had it, chances are good that you will get it too
- Again, hormonal changes, also in women during their period and pregancy, can cause temporary breakouts of acne and congestion
- Practicing poor skin hygiene can also create or worsen acne as skin is vulnerable to bacterial infections
Although there is no known evidence that acne is caused by a poor diet, I do know that eating certain foods can contribute to acne getting worse in localised areas. These foods are generally high in fat (like fast food), lactose (chocolate, cheese, cream), wheat (bread,pasta), gluten (cakes, pasta, pastries) and caffeine.
It is very difficult to control acne skin and it can cause years of self esteem problems, unhappy feelings and discomfort. If you follow these simple steps, you can however reduce the severity of your acne.
- Wash skin morning and evening with an anti-bacterial face wash, ideally containing Benzoyl Peroxide
- After cleansing, bloth skin dry with clean paper towel, kitchen towels also works well
- Do not pick or squeeze spots as this will spread the bacteria to other areas
- Use a toner which contains ingredients such as tea tree and peppermint
- Exfoliate 2-3 times a week with a Salicylic acid exfoliater. This will help to shed dead skin cells and open and purify congested pores. Because Salicylic Acid can penetrate sebum glands and AHA’s can’t, this is a great breakout fighter
- Use a gel based moisturiser after cleansing X2 daily
- Use a face mask 1-2 times a week specifically designed for acne skin, avoid clays masks as these will overly dry skin and aggrevate the acne
The organic ingredients that are suitable for acne skin:
- Tea tree oil
- Manuka honey
- Vit B6
- Willow Bark
Other ingredients that are also effective in treating acne is:
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Salicylic acid
NHS Choices, Wikipedia