What exactly is acne and how it caused?
Millions of small sebaceous glands on your skin create an oil called sebum to protect your skin. These glands are connected to hair follicles all throughout your body. A few things, though, may prevent the oil from effectively evaporating through the follicles. The sebaceous glands can go into overdrive as a result of hormones, and the extra oil they generate can become clogged by dead skin cells, leading to acne. According to Howard Sobel, M.D., an attending dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital and the founder of Sobel Skin, hormonal acne is very common in adults as well. He explains that pregnancy, your menstrual cycle, starting or changing birth control pills, and starting or changing puberty can all speed up oil production, causing pimples to form. Additionally, stress might cause your body to create cortisol, which can activate your oil glands and cause an outbreak.
According to Dr. Sobel, inflammation or an allergic reaction to a product or cloth (such a hat or, yes, a face mask from the pandemic era) can also cause your pores to clog. A yeast infection in the hair follicles can occasionally result in an acne-like eruption, especially on the upper chest and upper back. According to Dr. Jaliman, consuming too much dairy may also contribute to acne. Certain drugs, such as corticosteroids, can also contribute to acne. Consulting a dermatologist is the best way to figure out what is causing your breakouts.
Once the pores are blocked, they can result in a variety of acne types, including:
Whiteheads: This form of acne shows as little flesh- or white-colored pimples when too much oil and dead skin cells clog the pore’s opening.
Blackheads: These resemble whiteheads, but as the pore-clogging substance pushes through and is exposed to the air, it interacts with oxygen and darkens.
Pimples: When bacteria becomes entrapped inside the pore together with the oil and dead skin, it causes inflammation and the familiar red spots to appear.
Cystic acne: When germs, oil, and dead skin cells go deeper into the skin, they cause these hard, painful pimples that might feel like marbles under the skin.
How do you know if you have acne skin?
Your skin type is not easily ascertained. You can have oily skin and acne, dry skin and acne, sensitive skin and acne, and so on. Additionally, it’s possible to have oily skin and hardly ever, if ever, get a zit. It all comes down to how detritus, dead skin cells, and sebum—the official term for oil—interact with your pores. “Having acne-prone skin means more than just having greasy skin. According to Dr. Zeichner, if you are prone to acne, it signifies that in addition to producing a lot of oil, oil also gets trapped in your pores.
When discussing acne, there are many severity levels to take into account. Mild acne sufferers could occasionally experience a cluster outbreak. Some people may experience flare-ups throughout their menstrual cycle, while others may discover a link between their diet and the frequency of their pimples. Acne that is more moderate or severe might leave acne scars, uncomfortable cysts, or recurrent breakouts.
The Best Skincare Routine for Acne Skin
Step 1: Cleanse
Dr. Beleznay advises against over-washing because it can harm the skin barrier and make acne worse. “Washing your face twice a day can be used to remove any oil, dirt, and makeup, but it’s crucial to remember that acne is not the result of “dirty” skin.
A mild cleanser will do the trick without removing the skin’s beneficial oils. Dr. Hartman advises looking for cleansers with benzoyl peroxide if your skin can tolerate it if you have more severe inflammatory acne. According to him, benzoyl peroxide-containing products “may help reduce swelling and get rid of microorganisms within the skin.” These can also get rid of extra sebum.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, among other exfoliants, are favorites of both Drs. Hartman and Beleznay (AHAs and BHAs).
BHAs, including salicylic acid, according to Dr. Hartman, work best for treating non-inflammatory forms of acne, such as blackheads and whiteheads. Salicylic acid is frequently advertised as a treatment for acne in general, but typically only works on non-inflammatory acne, according to him. It naturally removes dead skin cells that might cause blackheads and whiteheads by exfoliating the skin.
Dr. Hartman continues, “AHAs tend to be milder and cure hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles in addition to helping with acne. “Acne itself causes inflammation and hyperpigmentation. The longer you allow acne go untreated, the more likely it is to develop hyperpigmentation, which will be more challenging to treat.”
Step 3: Use a Retinoid Cream
Applying a retinol cream before you go to bed is the final crucial step in obtaining clear skin. Retinol: what is it? It is a vitamin A derivative called Retin-A that is available over-the-counter. Retin-A lowers wrinkles and, crucially for controlling acne, unclogs pores. According to Dr. Sobel, retinol is an excellent multipurpose acne therapy for adults. “It exfoliates keratinocytes, the skin’s outermost layer of cells, and speeds up cell regeneration and turnover. Additionally, it helps to clear blocked pores and maintain youthful skin while reducing and avoiding wrinkles and fine lines. Try these three: Sobel Skin 4.5% Retinol Complex Night Treatment, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel, and Differin Adapalene Gel.
Dr. Sobel advises using any retinol product gradually at first. Try it one or two days a week, he advises, to develop a tolerance and prevent annoyance. “Increasingly, up to four times a week, then daily if necessary.”
Step 4: Moisturize
It’s preferable to use a moisturizer in addition to your retinoid if it doesn’t serve as a hydrating cream. It’s crucial to maintain hydration for your skin. Dr. Beleznay notes that many of the therapies we use for acne can dry out the skin, so doing this can help prevent your skin from being overly dry. “Your skin can overproduce oil to compensate when it is excessively dry and your skin barrier is damaged, potentially resulting in clogged pores, blackheads, and worsening acne.”
Step 5: Apply Sunscreen
While utilizing acne treatment chemicals, which might sensitize the skin, it’s crucial to always wear sunscreen to protect your skin from UVA and UVB radiation.
Given that some persons may develop contact dermatosis from chemical sunscreens, Dr. Hartman suggests using a mineral sunscreen. According to him, the vehicle a substance is in is more likely to cause discomfort in acne sufferers than the ingredient itself. Sunscreen can exacerbate acne because thicker or formulas with more oil might lead to comedones. Instead of thick creams, go for emollient mineral SPF.
Step 6: Use Spot Treatments (Serums)
Dr. Beleznay advises using a topical medication all over the body as part of a long-term acne prevention plan. However, topical benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can be utilized if you have an acne lesion that you want to try and treat quickly; just be careful not to overdo it.
Concentrated mixtures of chemicals designed to target particular skin issues make up serums. Look for chemicals like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid, or retinol in your nightly serum if you have acne-prone skin. Because they make skin more sensitive to UV light, these ingredients work best when applied over night. Using your fingertips, gently rub the serum into the damp skin. On evenings after using an exfoliating treatment, omit this step. Always remember to wear an SPF the next day.