Acne, pimples, zits, breakouts, etc. Whatever you call it, its no fun at all. I have battled acne for over a decade and it is a confidence killer. During the worst days, I don’t leave the house as I can’t bear to face (no pun intended) the world. Anyway, enough of my story; to achieve and maintain clear skin, you need to keep 4 key things in mind.
1. Understand the cause of acne.
2. Know the type of acne you have in order to effectively treat it.
3. Distinguish between what is causing your acne, and what is perpetuating it.
4. There is no cure for acne, but it can be treated and kept under control.
Here is a little note on acne:
Acne is an inflammation of the skin that causes blackheads, whiteheads, and red spots usually called “pimples” or “zits.” The most common type of acne is acne vulgaris (vulgaris = common)
Types of Acne
1. Blackheads: they are exposed on the surface of skin and don’t leave scars
2. Whiteheads: (or pustules), the most common type of acne, they don’t turn black because they’re not exposed to air, so they cannot be oxidized
3. Deep pustules/Cysts: Red and swollen with visible pus
Causes of Acne
The main cause of acne is the hyperactivity of sebaceous glands (see image above). The glands typically produce small amount of sebum (a thick mixture of oil and skin cells). Its hyperactivity induces overproduction of sebum, which clogs pores and allows bacteria (ex: propionibacterium acnes) to move in, infecting the region and worsening the breakouts.
Hormones (such as androgens) have dramatic effects on oil glands, inducing overproduction of sebum. Some hormones typically spike during menstrual cycle, which is why many women experience breakouts during their period. Note the flow below for the stages of acne.
Imbalance in hormones => Hyperactive oil glands => Overproduction of sebum => Acne
Now that you have a general idea about acne, below are the 3 ways that I followed to effectively treat acne. Internally, externally and habitually. I will discuss the first part in this post.
This primarily deals with all that is happening in your system. Your diet (i.e. nutrition), and whatever else is ingested will help treat (or worsen) acne from the inside.
1. Tweak your diet
Recall that acne develops due to imbalance of hormones, so modifying your diet accordingly will help regulate your hormone internally. Your diet doesn’t cause acne, but it can perpetuate it. If you are a teen battling acne, keep in mind that your hormones are no longer same as pre-adolescent, which is why you should modify your diet to account for the changes. Opt for food that are high in vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, and stay away from processed foods, carbonated beverages, and high cholesterol. I want to stress the importance of vitamins and antioxidants; vitamins fortifies your immune system, to fight bacteria and infections, and antioxidants helps to regenerate healthy skin cells.
I noted that salty, greasy or processed sugar contents are the biggest contributors to my acne. When I eat food with high salt contents like processed meats (bacon, ham, sausage, etc.), I break out within 5-10 minutes of consumption.
2. Stay hydrated
If you have been following the blog, you will note that I stress the importance of hydration. Your body is composed of approx. 70% water, and you need to stay hydrated so that it can function at its peak capacity. I drink at least 2L of water daily, and I have noted a HUGE difference in the elasticity and smoothness of my skin (and hair) within the first week. Though I suggest daily intake of 2L, your body is the best indicator of dehydration.
Most creams and lotions containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and sulphur are readily available. Some prescription alternatives include birth controls to regulate hormones, and antibiotics (minocycline, tetracycline, etc.) for severe cases. Consult your doctor before going on any medications.
What ultimately cleared my acne was my diet, external and habitual approach. I will talk more about the last 2 in the upcoming posts.
Do you battle acne? What products do you use? Do you take prescribed medications? Any DIYs? Share your thoughts/stories below!
Source: Body & Health Canada