What is acne?
Acne vulgaris is a chronic, inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous (oil) gland in the skin. It occurs when the pores (hair follicles) become clogged with dead skin cells, bacteria and excess sebum. This causes blackheads, where the oil is trapped inside the pore. The oil and bacteria continue to build up behind the blockage and cause papules and pustules which appear as red lumps, often with the appearance of a whitehead. Acne can typically be found on the face, chest and back, although can occur in other areas such as the buttocks. Typically, if acne lesions are found on more than one area (e.g face and back), medication would be recommended.
Why do I have Acne?
Acne affects around 80% of people at some point in their lives. Typically, it can be brought on by several factors including hormone changes, stress, excessive sweating and it can also be hereditary. This is mainly due to a sensitivity to androgens, such as testosterone. This sensitivity changes the rate of cell turnover, meaning that acne sufferers have an overload of skin cells which can’t naturally shed quickly enough. This causes a thickening of the top layer of skin (epidermis) and results in the pore becoming clogged.
On the skins surface live natural bacteria, which feed off surface oils to create a healthy barrier function. However, when the pores get blocked this causes the bacteria to creep into the skin, where there is more sebum for them to thrive on. In this environment the bacteria quickly multiple and cause an inflammatory response, this creates a red lump called a papule.
If infection is present this will represent in a pustule, where the papule is filled with a white or yellow pus. They can be hard and sometimes very painful to touch.
How do I get rid of Acne?
It is very hard to "cure" Acne due to its hormonal and unpredictable nature. However, there are many ways to significantly improve the condition. The best way to combat acne is to consider the 4 factors which lead to breakouts;
- Increase in cell turnover
- Increase in sebum production
- Increase in P.Acne bacteria
There are a couple of crucial ingredients you should use on your skin to combat these 4 factors: Salicylic acid and Glycolic acid retinol.
Common Myths about Acne
- "Acne is a different condition from spots." - In fact, there is no difference between these two words. Acne is the medical term for breakouts. The severity of the condition, however, can range from comedones to cystic acne.
- "Acne is for teenagers." - Acne occurs in both teenagers and adults. Hormonal conditions/imbalances, stress and emotional trauma are the main triggers to cause acne at any age.
- "Acne is caused by unclean skin." - In fact most acne sufferers tend to over clean their skin as they think this will help. You should wash/cleanse your skin twice a day ONLY as over-cleansing makes the skin raw and promotes the skin to start producing more sebum (oil).
- "Acne is contagious." - Acne is not contagious and can’t be spread from person to person. P.Acne bacteria cannot be transmitted like most bacterial infections.
- "You should avoid wearing makeup if you have Acne" - There is absolutely no reason to completely avoid makeup, but do ensure you use an oil free foundation. Always remember to remove makeup correctly, and never sleep with makeup on.