If you don’t know already, June is Acne Awareness Month – a campaign dedicated to raising awareness and providing education on how to treat it effectively. With this in mind, we have gathered 10 things you should know about the prolific skin condition, from cleansing to gut health!
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 85 per cent of all people will experience acne breakouts in some form. It is considered that adult acne affects 25% of adult men and 50% of adult women.
BLACKHEADS AND WHITEHEADS are raised bumps caused by a build-up of oil, dead skin cells and bacteria, which block your pores.
PAPULES AND PUSTULES are larger bumps occurring when blocked pores become irritated. Papules are hard, raised bumps and may be tender to the touch, whilst Pustules are topped with white or yellow pus-filled lesions and are red at the base.
NODULES AND CYSTS are deeper pimples. They are usually very large painful and solid. Cysts can often be pus-filled. See our Acne Glossary for more on the different types of acne.
Whilst it may be tempting, over-exfoliating and cleansing can exacerbate the problem. This can cause additional irritation and dryness. The more your skin dries, the more the glands will work to produce potentially pore-clogging oil. It is better to stick to a consistent routine – once in the morning and once at night with mild cleanser.
It may seem counter-intuitive to use a moisturizer if you struggle with excessive oil and blocked pores. However, a lot of acne skin care systems contain ingredients that can dry out the skin. Your skin will react by trying to produce more oil so it important to build in some balance by using a moisturizer. Where possible try to use products from the same system recommended by your dermatologist as they will be ph balanced and are designed to work in harmony with each other. Humectant moisturizers work particularly well as they are non-greasy and draw in more water.
Consistency is the key to success when treating acne. Most people discontinue treatment if they don’t see immediate results. The recommended length of acne treatment is at least 8 weeks.
Some medical professionals often discount the connection between skin health and nutrition, however, there is evidence to suggest that our choice of diet can heavily influence our hormonal balance. Acne can often be attributed to hormonal disruption. Therefore if acne is an issue, you should be eating a nutrient dense, healthy diet to help regulate your hormonal balance.
Things you come into contact with on a daily basis could be contributing to your acne outbreaks. For example, it’s a no-brainer that you should remove any make-up before going to bed to help prevent your pores from becoming clogged. But how many of you regularly clean your make-up brushes? Regularly cleaning your brushes can help to reduce the build-up and spread of bacteria that may lead to a break-out. Similarly, regularly washing of your towels, sheets and pillows will help to keep the transfer of bacteria to a minimum.
Foods with a high glycaemic load such as white grains (bread, rice, pasta) and sweets have been linked to acne. Developing and maintaining a healthy diet will help to keep those breakouts under control. If you can’t afford to seek nutritional advice from a professional, the general rule of thumb is to avoid processed foods in favour of fresh home cooked food! Think vegetables!
(Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac)
Researchers as far back as 1930 have suspected a link between gut and skin health. Modern research is starting to confirm the importance of this relationship. Altered gut function can cause systemic and local inflammation contributing to the development of skin disease.
The primary function of the skin is to act as a physical, chemical and antimicrobial defence system. Studies have demonstrated that both stress and gut inflammation can impair the integrity and function of the epidermal barrier. This means the skin is less able to produce anti-microbial peptides and leads to an increase in severity of infection and inflammation of the skin.
Probiotics are known to help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria, this in turn leads to better ability to digest and absorb vital nutrients to help our bodies flourish. Recent studies have shown that oral probiotics can improve the intestinal barrier function and reduce inflammation. In a study of 300 patients by Robert Siver, 80 per cent of those with acne saw a clinical improvement when given a commercially available probiotic.
If you regularly struggle with breakouts it may be worth considering which factors can trigger them for you! This can be very individual – look at your stress-levels, what you eat, personal habits and of course your skin regime. If you haven’t yet cracked the winning formula – help is at hand! Book an appointment with a specialist for more in-depth advice.