Acne affects people of all ages and skin types. Characterization of acne may include daily breakouts (“pimples”), large pores, shiny appearance, and inflamed and irritated skin. Whether you have a single blemish or a face full of lesions, it is all acne. Unfortunately, acne is not limited to the face and neck. It can also extend to areas of the chest, shoulders, and back. This can definitely put a hamper on attending pool parties, beach outings, or wearing that backless dress or sleeveless top that you’ve been wanting to show off. If you are suffering from acne you are not alone. Nearly 17 million people in the U.S. have some form of the condition. With so many people affected what causes acne?
What Causes Acne: Acne Myths, Tips and Solutions
What Causes Acne?
The sebaceous glands of your skin produce oil that is emptied onto the skin’s surface (see image at right). At the same time, dead skin cells are shed at a normal rate as newer, fresher cells rise to the surface. Sometimes, these dead cells shed too fast, clump together and clog the pores. This is called non-inflammatory acne. If this plug stays below the skin’s surface, it is called a “closed comedone” or whitehead. If the plug reaches the skin’s surface and is exposed to air, an “open comedone” or blackhead forms. Contrary to popular belief, the black color is not caused by dirt but rather is due to a process of oxidation (Murad.com). Pimples, on the other hand, are inflamed breakouts. Inflammatory acne is a result of excess skin cells and oil causing pore-aggravating bacteria to develop. These bacteria give way to pimples, redness, and irritation. Now you know what causes acne, what next?
Do I have acne? Don’t mistake acne for eczema, perioral dermatitis or folliculitis; though some acne treatments may help reduce symptoms of these skin conditions. The worst part about acne treatment is that it sometime looks like it’s a hit-or-miss game. The chemical makeup in skin varies between people, so it is difficult to design a product that works universally. A walk down the skincare aisle at you local box store, supermarket, or pharmacy will attest to the overwhelming options for acne products.
Acne Myths and Tips:
Myth #1: Acne is caused by poor hygiene.
Acne is not caused by dirt or surface oil, and the presence of acne does not mean your face is dirty. Harsh scrubbing and washing will irritate the skin and make breakouts worse. Therefore, only gentle cleansing is advised.
Myth #2: Acne is caused by poor diet.
Extensive scientific studies have not found a connection between diet and acne. Contrary to popular belief, eating foods like chocolate and french fries does not cause acne. It’s not what you eat, but what you don’t eat. Eating a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, will help encourage skin health from within.
Myth #3: Acne is caused by stress.
While everyday stressors are not a primary cause of acne, it can be a trigger which may exacerbate a pre-existing condition (try an Electric Mini Massager for some relief).
Myth #4: Acne is just a "phase" and not
Acne has been labeled a normal part of growing up, but many people don't realize the devastating effects that it can have on one's self-esteem and quality of life. There is no reason why a treatable skin condition should be left alone. Although mild cases of acne may be controlled with over-the-counter products, moderate and more severe acne (such as nodular or cystic acne) may need prescription medications that a dermatologist can provide for you.
Myth #5: Popping your pimples is the best way to get rid of them.
Some people might tell you that squeezing your pimples will make them less noticeable and help them heal faster, but they're wrong. In fact, your attempts can damage the structures under your skin and cause the pimple to become inflamed or leave a permanent scar.
Myth #6: Getting a tan clears up acne.
Although a tan may temporarily mask acne, the sun can make the skin dry and irritated, leading to more breakouts in the future. Many medications used to treat acne can actually make your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light.
Myth #7: You just have to let acne run its course.
Why run the risk of letting acne run its course? There have been great advances in the treatment of acne and with the right treatment, acne can be controlled.
Myth #8: Acne can be cured.
Not yet - but don't despair, it can be treated effectively. Try:
Myth #9: Only teenagers have acne.
Acne can affect all age groups. Some babies have mild acne and some people don't get acne until after they've reached adulthood. About 25% of all people between the ages 25-44 have active acne. Many adult women have acne due to the constant fluctuation of their hormones during each menstrual cycle. Medications (like birth control pills) and pregnancy can also contribute to adult acne.
Myth #10: The more you scrub your face, the fewer breakouts you'll have.
Although washing your face helps to remove dirt and oil from your pores, washing too much can lead to dryness and irritation, causing more breakouts. Also, avoid scrubbing your face, which can irritate the skin. As a general rule, wash your face twice a day with mild soap and water in a circular motion and gently pat dry when you're done.
Recommended Acne Treatment Products:
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Recommended sites for more articles on acne:
Murad.com - Leader in Skin Care Science
NeoStrata.com - Dermatologist Developed Skin Care
PerriconeMD.com - Dr. Nicholas V. Perricone, a board certified dermatologist