Causes of Acne
While most acne sufferers are teens and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25, it is still quite common in adults over the age of 30. Acne Vulgaris is a very common skin condition that appears in the form of inflammatory and noninflammatory lesions, more commonly referred to as pimples, zits or blemishes.
Acne affects more than 89% of teenagers and about 20% of adults. In teenagers, acne is often a reaction to the onset of puberty and the production of androgenic (male) hormones, but in adults, the reasons can vary more. The increased stress of today’s society can be a factor, as well as pregnancy, the use of certain prescription medications, and even some hormonal factors. Statistics show that adult acne appears in 50% of women and 25% of men.
Acne is caused when sebum (oil) can’t reach the skin’s surface. When sebaceous glands plug hair follicles with oil, acne develops. The resulting blockage causes pimples and blackheads. Fluctuating hormone levels, such as those that occur during pregnancy, nursing and intense stress, can contribute to this condition, as can excessive contact with industrial chemicals or constant physical pressure of a helmet or chinstrap.
When treating adult acne, both internal and external factors must be considered. Zinc and selenium are helpful in treating vitamin deficiencies. Products containing herbal or natural ingredients such as tea tree oil, aloe vera and calendula are ideal for mature skin. Well-known products designed for teenagers contain benzoyl peroxide and other harsh chemicals that may be too harsh for older skin. Topical products used to control adult acne come in many forms: gels, lotions, creams, serums, scrubs, peels and masks, which may be used alone or in combination with each other.
Acne is usually caused by an increase in androgens, the male sex hormones that include testosterone. Since both sexes experience androgen fluctuations (especially during the teen years), both men and women are prone to acne. However, teen boys are more likely than teen girls to experience severe cases of acne, while women are more likely than men to experience mild to moderate forms of acne after their 30s. In addition to an increase in hormonal activity, acne can also be caused or aggravated by diet, stress, certain medications, overactive sebaceous glands and bacteria.
Acne lesions occur most often on the face, chest and back, but can also occur on the scalp, arms and other areas. While it is true that acne can be sore, tender and uncomfortable, it generally comes and goes without physical discomfort. Read on to learn more about acne, as well as treatments for acne.
Treatments for Acne
There are many ways to treat acne and regain a clear, healthy complexion. Depending on the severity of the case of acne, you may be able to treat acne at home with specially formulated acne treatment products. If the case is more severe, a trip to the dermatologist may be in order. A dermatologist is also able to diminish the appearance of scars with acne scar treatments.
One of the easiest and safest ways to treat acne at home is to use a cleaner, lotion, mask, serum or targeted acne treatment formulated with salicylic or glycolic acid. These ingredients reduce acne breakouts by removing the outer layer of dead skin cells, helping to unplug blocked follicles. They also help to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles and other imperfections. While salicylic acid is a more popular acne treatment, glycolic acid is sometimes more desirable as it can be found in natural acne products.
Other anti-acne ingredients commonly found in at-home skin care products include vitamin A (also known as Retinol), benzoyl peroxide and natural ingredients such as tea tree, willow bark, licorice root, olive leaf, azelaic acid and zinc. While each of these ingredients do offer clarifying benefits, it is not promised that any of them will work for your skin type. Although tea tree oil may give your best friend clear skin, it is possible that it will not work for your particular skin type. Try different formulations and active ingredients to find the right acne treatment for you.
If your acne will not respond to at-home products, you may need to see your dermatologist for more advanced acne treatments. He or she may prescribe a medication, such as Accutane, or suggest that you try hormonal treatments, cortisone injections, topical or oral retinoids (vitamin A derivitaves), antibiotics, dermabrasion, laser treatments or phototherapy. Phototherapy is unique due to the fact that it can be performed by your dermatologist or at home using a specially designed light therapy device.
Always remember to check with your dermatologist before you begin any new acne treatment regimen, no matter how innocent it may seem.
Treatments for Acne: Diet
Acne Tips: Eat Your Way to Cleaner Skin
While it is a myth that diet can be the exclusive cause of acne, there is some truth behind that belief. Our body works as a system, which means that everything is connected. What you eat can certainly have an affect on your skin; whether that effect is good or bad is up to you and your diet. Sometimes, one of the best treatments for acne is simply eating healthier!
What to eat: zinc
Where it’s found: dairy, beans, meats, some seafood, peanuts, whole grains, pumpkin seeds
What it does: zinc strengthens the skin and protects it while acting as an astringent. It can reduce inflammation, diminish discomfort associated with blemishes, help control oil production and actually heal acne blemishes.
What to eat: vitamin C
Where it’s found: papaya, broccoli, brussels sprouts, red bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwi, cauliflower, kale
What it does: vitamin C is a powerful dietary need! It helps regenerate your body’s vitamin E supplies while protecting cells from free radical damage, a leading cause of visible signs of aging. As for use as an acne treatment, it detoxifies the body, expelling pollutants to promote optimized health.
What to eat: flaxseed oil
Where it’s found: extracted from flax seeds, it is bottled and sold in health food stores and most chain grocery stores
What it does: flaxseed oil is well-known for its health benefits. It features high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce inflammation and improve your heart’s health. Flaxseed oil also speeds up healing time, which is a must for acne sufferers.
While each of these dietary needs are fantastic on their own, the use of all three make a fantastic acne treatment that will surely improve your skin’s overall health and clarity. Plus, they’ll give your entire body a boost; who doesn’t need that?