Q: I cannot get my skin to stop breaking out! Please help me!
A: Acne is caused by many things, including genetic factors and hormones. Stress has also been determined to play a big part in breakouts, says dermatologist David Sire, M.D., from Fullerton, CA. While you cannot control whether you have skin that is genetically prone to acne, you can take steps to help clear it up and prevent it.
Most teens and even early adults experience pimples. I would know since I've been there. All my high school days, I've got those dreaded pimple scars that has given me low self-esteem. Fortunately by the time I entered college, the acne lessened, the scars were healing until no more trace of pimples. It took some years before I got the correct and regular routine to achieve a nearly acne-free skin. So I would like to share you some basic tips in preventing pimples and keeping a good healthy blemish free face.
Before we get to the know-hows, let's first tackle what pimples are exactly and what causes them.
Pimples are small swellings and inflammation of the skin, one of which are results of excess oil and dirt getting trapped within the skin pores - these are the tiny holes on the surface of the skin. Most common in teenagers, but anyone can get pimples - even babies! Whiteheads if the top of the plug is white, and Blackheads if its black. Pimples commonly appear on face, neck and back, but sometimes even on the arms, legs, trunk and buttocks.
It's sometimes caused by high levels of humidity and sweating, hormonal changes (eg. puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, birth control pills and even stress), certain drugs and may even tend to run in families. Pimples usually go away after teenage years, but it may also last in middle age.
Now that we have some idea on what pimples are, let me give you some basic guide in preventing pimples and taking care of your skin
Skin and Stress Connection
Research has shown that stress and breakouts are directly linked. When the brain recognizes stress, it involuntarily releases stress hormones (cortisol) that help thicken the hair follicle's lining, causing blackheads/whiteheads. If bacteria get trapped, a large pimple develops.
Research supports the adverse impact of stress on the immune system. The skin, being one of the body’s largest organs, is intricately connected to the rest of our physiology, including the mind. Just as the body is affected by stress, so is the skin. The body responds to stress by directing blood flow and oxygen to areas vital for fighting the stress, and withdraws from other areas including the skin. The skin subsequently becomes starved of blood and oxygen, making it dehydrated, dull, lifeless and prone to clogged pores and breakouts.
Acne causes, triggers and symptoms
Hormones often play a key role as a cause or trigger of acne. Acne typically begins around puberty when an increase of steroid (androgenic) hormones causes an increase in the activity of sebaceous hair follicles. If acne continues to persist beyond the age 25 or 30, factors other than hormones may be coming into play.
Diet, heredity, stress, vitamin deficiency, certain medications, thyroid or other endocrine problems chronic irritation, and bacteria can also play a role in acne. When acne strikes, a combination of several of these factors is often at play.
In severe cases, acne can lead to deep, inflamed and severe lesions.
12 Best Ways to Prevent and Treat Acne
- Prevention and treatment of acne begins with keeping the affected areas clean without using harsh abrasive cleaners, which can irritate already sensitive skin.
- Avoid harsh oils, heavy make up and lipstick, as all of these can further clog the pores and increase the chances for breakouts.
- Dermatologists often recommend topical anti-acne or sensitive-skin care products such as argan cream, moisturizing cream from skinue for dry skin and lotions. Such cleansers are usually intended to dry out the skin and are very much effective.
- In more severe cases, doctors may prescribe medication.
- Exposure to sunlight is also a common treatment, and devices are designed to mimic the benefits of sunlight. Note that if you are on prescribed medication, you may need to avoid exposure to the sun.
- Avoid picking, piercing or squeezing the pimples. This can lead to infection and possible scarring.
- Keep your hands off your face. Try not to pick or squeeze pimples, which can make them more inflamed or cause scars.
- Don't scrub. Most people with acne and/or clogged pores tend to scrub their face harder, which irritates the skin. Instead, use a gentle cleanser in the a.m. and p.m.
- Easy on the foundation. Makeup used to cover up pimples tends to clog pores and cause more blemishes. Try using a concealer with a zit-zapping ingredient like salicylic acid.
- Identify blemish patterns on your face. Look at the way you hold the telephone, whether you sleep more on one side of your face or if you hold your head up with one hand when sitting. Try to avoid doing these things.
Start a treatment skincare routine. Skin care products s.a Cleansers, toners and moisturizers containing ingredients like benzoyl peroxide kill the bacteria causing inflammation.
Get serious about it. If you're taking care of your skin and it still doesn't clear up, it may be a good idea to consult a dermatologist, who can prescribe a stronger product, like Retin-A.