Acne (Acne Vulgaris)

Issa big topic…

Acne Vulgaris is a long term skin condition that arises when dead skin cells & sebum clog pores and is characterised by red pimples due to inflamed and/or infected sebaceous glands.

What causes Acne? 

Several different factors contribute to ‘triggering’ acne. The main underlying mechanism of acne is hormonal imbalance which may be caused by several factors: genetics, contraception, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, menopause, stress or medication. Dehydration and/or bacteria may also contribute to causing acne.

Acne Vulgaris affects the face but can also affect the upper body. It is common in teenage years due to puberty, however it also affects people in their adulthood. NHS UK states that 95% of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by acne to some extent (issa trap you can’t escape). 

How Acne Develops

All acne is caused in the same way but just has different types of causes/triggers as mentioned above. 

Most commonly, an increase in androgens (most commonly testosterone) triggers an increased amount of sebum production process. This may result Acne to develop in 3 simple steps:

  1. Excess sebum can cause blocked hair follicles due to excess sebum and dead skin cells sticking together.(Sebum is required in order to keep your skin healthy and well lubricated. Sebaceous glands located under the skin release this oily substance called sebum which coats the skin and hair to prevent dehydration. Sebum travels up the hair follicle and exits the body via pores, onto the surface of the skin. Hair follicles routinely shed dead skin cells which sebum also carries out of your body, however too much of it begins to make things ‘sticky’…). 
  2. When hair follicles become blocked, this forms comedones which are clogged pores (as a result of the overproduction of the skin cells that would usually be pushed up and exit via the pores) 
  3. The comedones may worsen due to the colonisation of the hair follicles by a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes), which results in inflammation due to the immune system being triggered. 

Symptoms 

In puberty, acne commonly affects the T-Zone (forehead, nose, chin). In adolescence, acne most commonly affects the bottom of the face (cheeks, chin, jawline and around the mouth). 

Person may experience the following types of spots:

Non-inflammatory Spots (unless is worsen by bacteria):

  • Comedones
    A single lesion is called a Comedo, which is a clogged pore (hair follicle) in the skin. There are 2 types of comedones:
  1. WHITEHEADS are closed comedones (follicle completely blocked)
  2. BLACKHEADS are open comedones (due to surface pigment, also known as melanin) 

Inflammatory Spots (increasing in severity):

  • Papules (a skin lesion)
    Often called skin lesions which are changes in the skin’s colour/texture (normally a raised bump on the skin caused by excess oil and dead skin cells clogged in a pore but containing no visible pus). Papules may cluster together and form a rash.
  • Pustules (a skin lesion)
    A purulent (pus filled) vesicle containing neutrophils. Can be yellow or white in colour.
  • Nodules
    Firm papules or lesions which extend into the dermis or subcutaneous tissues. May be above, level with or below the skin surface.
  • Cysts (the most painful)
    Is a sac-like pocket of membranous tissue that is formed due to rupturing of the skin cell wall and contains fluid (sebum), bacteria and dead skin cells. It is located deep underneath the skin. Most common in people with oily skin.

Treatment

Topical Treatments:

  • Niacinimide (Vitamin B3)
    Reduces the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion.
    Improves the appearance of pores and skin tone as it increases the skin’s elasticity, making it look smooth and more even.
  • AHA
    Used as an exfoliating chemical, it helps to loosen and remove clogged pores. It may also reduce the size of enlarged pores and encourage skin cell turnover to reduce acne scars also.
  • Salicylic Acid
    Dissolves skin debris that clog the pores and regulates the skin cells. 
  • Hyaluronic Acid
    Hyaluronic acid attracts and holds the water in the outer layer of your skin, ensuring your skin is hydrated. This ensures the skin is not dry (prevents from even more unnecessary sebum being produced).
  • Vitamin C
    Is an antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental aggressors for example, sun and pollution that cause big damage. It also suppresses pigmentation as it promotes synthesis of collagen. It can also detoxify, brighten and even out complexion as well as strengthen the skin’s vascular wall which provides an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
    It is an antimicrobial that works by reducing acne-causing bacteria on the skin and keeping the pores clear from blockages. 
  • Retinoids (Vitamin A)
    Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and several provitamin A carotenoids. The retinoids derived from vitamin A are used regularly in skincare as they’ve proved over time to reduce the appearance pigmentation caused by sun exposure, unclog pores and reduce acne scars.PS. It’s a good idea to gradually introduce retinoids into your skin as you may experience skin peeling and/or redness due to its high strength. Also, remember it takes about 12 weeks to see effects therefore you need to be patient too!

It is important to have a good skincare routine implemented using the above ingredients and suitable for your skin type. It is important to stick to it as it TAKES TIME (like all good things right?)  

Hormonal Treatments: 

Speak to your doctor which hormonal treatment will be best for you as it depends on various factors. Don’t forget to do some research about the negatives and positives as different hormonal treatment have many effects (good and bad). 

Antibiotics

Most common antibiotics used are tetracycline e.g. doxycycline as it kills bacteria and reduces inflammation. Topical retinoids and benzoyl peroxide are also recommended to be used at the same time to increase treatment effectiveness and reduce antibiotic resistance.

Quick Tips

Look for products that are:

  • Moisturising (acne products may extremely dry out the skin, increasing even more unnecessary excessive sebum)
  • Hypo-allergic (say no to allergic reactions, especially if you have sensitive skin)
  • Non-comedogenic (does not clog pores, as that’s the main cause of acne)
  • Non-irritating (cause no one wants stripped skin)
  • Parfum free (because why is this unnecessary and toxic chemical even in products still please? Main side effect is hormone disruption which is what we are trying to get rid of in the case of acne!)

Implement these Healthy Quick Habits

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water
    (your skin will thank you for relieving it from dehydration which causes dryness = increased sebum production)
  • Change your pillow case every 2 nights
    (you’d be surprised what is left behind on your pillow after your beauty sleep…sweat, dead skin cells, oils, dirt…)
  • Wash your face 2 x a day
    (in the morning after waking up to remove the sweat, dead skin cells, oils and dirt & in the evening after a long day of your skin being challenged by various factors throughout the day and if you exercise try washing your face as soon as possible to prevent the sweat from being on your skin for too long).
  • Use a clean face cloth
    Have a separate towel for your face or even better, use a cotton filled gauze pads (as we do not want to spread the bacteria and cause even more breakouts)
  • Clean & Disinfect your products
    Ensure your make up & make-up brushes are clean and sterile (to avoid cross contamination)
  • Avoid dairy & spicy food
    (Diet factors varies from person to person as every body is different. Observe what you eat and when you break out most and see if there is any correlating variable. Process of elimination may take long but once you crack what foods to avoid, you’ll help yourself tremendously. For me, it’s spicy food).
  • DO NOT SLEEP WITH MAKE-UP ON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE.
    It clogs your pores! This is where self discipline comes in hehehe…I know we all have one of them days where butterflying the bed ASAP is all we want to the point we don’t care about anything and neglect everything but…implement a QUICK make-up removal routine (all you need is 2/3 minutes and you’re good to go to your dreamy bed).
  • DO.NOT.PICK.YOUR.SPOTS.
    It just spreads bacteria & causes acne scarring! (I managed to over come this bad habit, if you need help email me <3 )

Conclusion

If you suffer from acne, you may want to go to your doctors and seek medical attention. You also need to implement a good skin care routine! You may want to consider seeing a dermatologist so that you can ensure you have the correct skincare routine for your skin type and concern (in this case, acne). & follow this guide to help and guide you!

It’s a long journey but with patience and persistence we will overcome it! If you struggle from acne and want someone to talk to, feel free to drop me an email, we’re in this together! xx

 

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