Understanding Acne and its Remedies

It is very important to understand the factors that cause and worsen Acne in order to take appropriate measures to take care of Acne Prone skin.

The exact cause of Acne is still not established but experts believe, during adolescence our body produces extra sebum(oil), when combined with dead skin cells and hair follicles, they clog pores, when pores get infected with bacteria a plug is formed that causes inflammation.

Recent studies claim inflammation is a cause rather than a result of acne and this makes perfect sense as cellular inflammation triggers the body’s immune system to fight toxic substances and infection, in this battle the body collects white blood cells and sebaceous glands excrete excess sebum (oil) which hinders the body’s natural exfoliation system.

As a result extra dead cells accumulate, setting off a condition called Retention Hyperkeratosis in which the pores get clogged due to excess oil, dead cells and hair follicles, leading to acne.

FACTORS THAT TRIGGER ACNE

1. HORMONES

We all suffer from escalating hormones at some point in our lives that can lead to breakouts. During puberty a surge in hormones is the most common cause of pimples in teenagers. During pregnancy women go through hormonal imbalance, which results in acne or in some cases clearing of acne. Rise in male hormones (testosterone) during periods and menopause can lead to pimples too.

2. POOR DIET AND NUTRITION

There is no direct link between diet and acne but latest findings suggest people with acne prone skin should avoid foods that are high in Glycemic and Insulin content as they stimulate the synthesis of toxins in the body.

A study demonstrated that diet rich in low glycemic foods and glucose reduced serum testosterone while improving metabolism, these endocrine changes reduce sebum production. Another harmful ingredient if taken in excess that can aggravate acne is iodine.

Excessive iodides are secreted through oil glands, which irritate skin pores and cause acne.

Foods high in glycemic, insulin and iodine content, which must be avoided:

  • Artificial Sweeteners– Sucralose and aspartame
  • Sugar– White and brown
  • White Flour– Found in cakes, cookies, pastas, white breads, bagels, muffins, pretzels, noodles, pizza, doughnut, pancakes and waffles
  • Fried foods-French Fries, chips.
  • Foods with Artificial nutrients-Cereals
  • Foods with high fat content– Ice cream, margarine, butter cream cheese, desserts.

Foods that prevent acne

  • All Berries– Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
  • Pomegranate-Contains three times more polyphenols than green tea.
  • Peppers– Both red and green bell peppers.
  • Flaxseeds– full of omega 3 fatty acid and fiber
  • Chia seeds-More omega 3 than flax seeds, full of minerals and anti-oxidants.
  • Sunflower seeds and Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E.
  • Veggies– Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, mushrooms, spinach, snow peas and tomatoes
  • Fruits- Apples, melon, pears, cantaloupe
  • Beans-Kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans.
  • Soy products such as Tofu
  • Salmon, shell fish and oysters
  • Nuts– Almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts.
  • Nuts– Almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts.
  • Yogurt
  • Olive Oil is a non-hydrogenated oil which contains good fat.
  • Brown rice and regular oatmeal
  • Dark Chocolate

3. STRESS

stress cause

If you have had a pimple just before an exam or an important event, you won’t underestimate the impact of stress on the skin.

To combat stress, the cells act as stress receptors and release stress hormones (cortisol), which leads to excessive oil production resulting in clogged pores. Some people have a habit of scratching their head and picking pimples during anxiety that spreads bacteria and increases acne. Stress can lead to many other skin diseases and make you look older than your age so learn to relax and take a 10 minute break for deep breathing every day.

4. MEDICATION

Certain ingredients in your medicines can trigger acne. The ones to watch out for are. Prednisone, both cortisone and hydrocortisone, lithium, lithium chloride, iodine, phentharmine, thyroid medications, antabuse, sometimes birth control pills can cause acne due to hormonal imbalance too. Drugs such as cocaine and marijuana also cause acne.

5. OTHER FACTORS

Harsh soaps, creams, lotions and topical ointments can further irritate the skin by clogging the pores.

Makeup brushes and other tools that come in contact with skin must be cleaned regularly with an antibacterial soap. Cell phones or other accessories that touch the face must be wiped with alcohol to keep them bacteria free. Lastly, our hands are the dirtiest, they pick up bacteria from whatever we touch. Avoid touching the face and most importantly never try to pick or prick a pimple as it spreads bacteria and cause new zits.

TYPES OF ACNE

There are two broad categories that acne is divided into:

1. NON-INFLAMMATORY ACNE

Also known as comedones, they include whiteheads and blackheads.

  • White Heads: When excessive oil production (sebum) leads to clogged pores, then a lesion is formed. it retains its original sebum color by not being exposed to air, thus called a whitehead.
  • Black Heads: Blackheads are formed when sebum in clogged pores is exposed to air, the oxidation darkens the tip area making it black in appearance. It is called an open comedo.

2. INFLAMMATORY ACNE

It is a more serious form of acne that includes papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. They are red, deep and painful. This type of acne takes longer to heal and can leave permanent scars if not treated timely under medical supervision.

  • Papules: When the immune system tries to fight infection, whiteheads get inflamed and result in redness. They are usually pus free.
  • Pustules: Pus is a collection of dead white blood cells. When the body fights pores clogged with oil and bacteria the skin breaks open bringing together dead white blood cells on surface. Higher the inflammation, bigger the pustules.
  • Nodules: When oil and bacteria spread deep inside the pores infecting other follicles, nodules are formed. They are painful and result in inflammation for many weeks or months.
  • Cysts: Cysts is the most serious form of acne. When other follicles are ruptured deep within the skin, large pus filled bumps form. They can leave permanent scars. This condition should be not left untreated.

Acne’s severity can be identified by recognizing the following conditions: 

Mostly Blackhead and whitehead:

  • Mild acne  - Many blackheads and whiteheads, few inflamed papules and pustules
  • Mild to moderate acne  - Some nodules with papules and pustules
  • Moderate acne - Deep cysts combined with any other form of acne 

Severe condition: If your acne condition is moderate to severe do not rely on home remedies or over the counter treatments, seek professional help from a dermatologist as the cause can be much deeper and if not treated timely it can leave permanent scars or cause hyper-pigmentation.

There are many treatments out there for this condition.

Your approach should be well informed and carefully formulated based on the cause, type, severity level and skin type.

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