Acne seems to be a growing problem, not only for teens, but also with people in all ages. Even if it’s nothing physically serious, acne breakouts can affect one’s well-being. It lowers self-confidence and some people even resort to isolating themselves from the public to avoid the embarrassment.
The sebaceous glands under your skin naturally produce oil or sebum to protect the skin and to keep it from drying out. Dead skin cells can prevent the oil from coming out, trapping it in the hair follicles.The trapped oil stimulates the growth of bacteria, which are naturally present in the skin. The multiplying bacteria infect the surrounding skin tissues, causing inflammation.
If the inflammation is deep in the skin, you get a pimple. If the oil makes its way to the surface, you get a whitehead, and if the oil comes in contact with oxygen, then it’s a blackhead.
If it’s a large, firm, painful lump, you get a nodule. If it’s a bump filled with underneath, then you get a cyst.
There is no definite cause of acne. A lot of varying factors lead to the formation of acne. For one, some individuals naturally have oilier skin than others, which makes them prone to acne. Your genes could also make susceptible to acne with the exemption of severe acne cases.
However, experts believe that the elevated levels of the hormone, androgen, has a lot to do with acne outbreaks. High levels of androgen can cause enlargement of the sebaceous or oil glands and, as a result, the glands produce more oil. Androgen levels are at its peak during adolescence, and maybe this is why acne breakouts are more common in teenagers.
Before discussing the triggering factors of acne, here are classic acne myths you should forget:
Fried Foods And Nuts Cause Acne. Greasy foods will not contribute to the growth of even a single pimple.
Frequent Washing In A Day Prevents And Treats Acne. Although you need to wash your wash to get rid of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells; washing several times a day with harsh soaps can irritate the skin, make it dry and even aggravate acne outbreak.
Sweat Causes Acne. Not true because trapped oil or grease causes acne formation, but it can exacerbate the infection.
Here are internal and external factors that can trigger excess oil production, making you more prone to acne breakouts:
1. The Foods You Eat
It’s clear that oily foods don’t cause acne. However, eating oily foods high in processed carbs do. Bread, cereals and regular pasta made from refined grains are foods with high glycemic index.
It is easily broken down into sugar and if eaten in large amounts regularly, it can cause insulin spikes leading to increased sebum production. The more sebum produced, the more likely pores will clog.
Processed foods are also high-glycemic, so remove them out in your diet.If you can’t avoid sugary foods altogether, try pairing it with protein-rich or fiber-rich foods. These types of foods can cut down the overall glycemic index of the entire meal.
Dairy is another culprit. Milk collected from pregnant cows has high levels of hormones, which can make your sebaceous or oil glands increasingly active. Eating chocolate when you have a mild acne breakout can worsen it, but chocolate does not cause acne.
2. Stress Worsens The Problem
Stress does not cause acne but can worsen until it leads to a breakout. How? When you’re under stress, your body reacts with the release of hormones that could also trigger or inhibit the release of other hormones.
The unstable levels of hormones in the body can make the oil glands highly active, releasing excess oil in the skin.
3. Oily Contact Counts
Applying oily or greasy creams and lotions can also cause acne outbreaks, but there is no need to avoid the use of facial care products. You just have to read the labels carefully and choose products that are oil-free or non-comedogenic.
For men, hair-styling products can also cause acne. Oil will seep down onto your forehead where acne could develop. For women, bangs can easily transport oil from hair products onto your face.
Your workplace is another factor. If you work in a kitchen with fry vats, oil is likely to come in contact with your skin.
4. Medications Matter
Anti-inflammatory steroids for arthritis, asthma and skin allergies, whether tablets or topical, when taken or used for a long duration can trigger acne breakouts.
Other ingredients you should watch out for in your meds are lithium, lithium chloride and iodides.
5. Contraceptive Pills Can Be The Problem
Contraceptive pills do cause acne breakouts, but this doesn’t mean you should stop taking them. Some birth control pills cause acne, but some can treat hormone-related breakouts. Contraceptive pills are either estrogen dominant or aprogestin dominant, which have varying levels of androgenic or testosterone-like effect. Generally, you have to avoid pills with higher androgenic effect since it triggers acne breakouts.
Talk to your doctor about your acne breakout concerns. An option for alternative medications may be available.
What to Do If a Breakout Occurs
If the acne starts to appear before you could even avoid it, be gentle with your skin. Moisturize, because dry skin can make acne look worse. Cleanse to prevent dirt and other substances from getting into the acne sores.
Remember to use oil-free or non-comedogenic skincare products and not to wash frequently. Use natural moisturizers, such as honey or Aloe Vera. These natural remedies also have healing properties that quicken the acne’s healing.
Avoid prolonged sun exposure and above all, do not pick at your skin, because it can further cause infection and increase your risk of acne scars.
If your acne breakout starts to embarrass you and if your skin care regimen does not seem to work, see a dermatologist. Severe acne may require scientific procedures like laser treatments, dermabrasion or a chemical peel.
The exact cause of acne breakout is still not known, but avoiding the factors that trigger excess oil production can reduce your risk of acne.