With 50% of women and 25% of men suffering from it at some point in their life, you’re not alone if you’ve experienced acne. This is often little consolation however when you’re faced with a fresh batch of pimples every morning. If left unchecked, acne can have a serious impact on self-confidence which can effect everything from academic performance to sleep.
What is acne?
Acne often surfaces during the onset of puberty, around age 14 for girls and 15/16 for boys. Characterised by comedones (blackheads, whiteheads and puss-filled spots) acne can effect the face, neck, back and chest. Sometimes acne can cause raised red bumps or pustules, oily skin and even scarring.
For most people, acne will clear up in the early twenties but can flare up again at any time, especially during pregnancy and stressful periods.
What causes acne?
At a basic level, acne is caused by the overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands. This is often because those who suffer from acne are particularly sensitive to normal blood levels of testosterone which can cause inflammation in the skin and blocked pores.
Although certain external factors such as shaving, changing environments, certain foods and skincare systems can have an adverse effect on the skin, for the most part acne can be attributed to genes. As frustrating and as this may sound, there are things you can do to help keep your acne under control.
Tips for Acne Management
If you’re currently stabbing in the dark when it comes to acne treatment, here are a few tried and tested tips to get you started. Remember if you decide to go down the medical route, this should be a last resort; do your best to try all possible avenues first and always consult a doctor or registered dermatologist before taking any medication.
Sleep- Getting a good nights rest is key to helping improve the appearance of acne. Your body uses the time you’re sleeping for repair- this goes for your skin too!
Make sure you’re getting a solid six to eight hours of sleep every night as well as changing your pillowcase at least once a week and washing your pillows every couple of months.
Did you know… you could kill dust mites and other bacteria that may have found their way onto your pillow by washing them at 60C or putting them in the freezer for 24hrs!
Water- Although simple, this tip really does make a world of difference. Ensure you are consuming a minimum of 2 litres of water per day to help reduce inflammation and ensure your skin is sufficiently hydrated. If you’re trying to tackle particularly persistent acne, also try avoiding caffeinated and sugary drinks, as these will only dehydrate yourself and your skin further leading to more breakouts.
At home treatments- This can be tricky and expensive if you’re not careful. Unfortunately there is no blueprint for treating acne and while some things work for some people, they may not for others. If possible, identify what it is about a particular product is creating a negative or positive effect on your skin; pay attention to chemical ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid as well as mineral oil and fragrances; while the former can often over-dry and irritate skin, the latter can clog pores and create greasiness.
Honey I treated my acne!– Honey is a natural antiseptic and can be applied topically to pimples to help reduce swelling.
Consistency- Once you’ve identified a thorough skincare regime that works for you, stick to it! It takes roughly one month for the surface of your skin to renew meaning it’s going to take a while for your skin to acclimatise to new products.
Stress- As an unavoidable part of life, stress can become consuming and detrimental to our physical and mental health. Stress causes an inflamed state in the body that can contribute to the inflammation of the sebaceous glands and in turn create a surplus of oil.
You can try to manage this in a variety of ways such as regular exercise and meditation.
Don’t dry out your skin- Just because you’ve got acne it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got oily skin. In fact, more often that not using extremely drying products can lead your skin to overcompensate, produce more oil and then you run the risk of getting more spots. Go easy with the products which claim to drain your skin of moisture, instead opting for oil free moisturisers and avoid harsh astringents whenever possible.
Food group elimination- Although this topic is often disputed, I believe that for some, particular foods can have a negative effect on the skin. Dairy, coffee and some soy products are often linked to an increase breakouts. Try cutting back on some of these for a period of time and track how your skin reacts.
Whatever you do to try and help your skin remember you’re not on your own. As demoralising as it can be, try to stay positive; it wont last forever, there are things you can do to help yourself and as cheesy as it sounds, it’s what’s on the inside that really counts!