Our face is often the first thing people see, making life with acne more than just merely blemishes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne impacts physical and emotional health. In fact, there’s a correlation between acne and depression, lower self-esteem, and anxiety.
Summer months can be especially trying for acne-prone skin. The heat and humidity associated with hotter months produce excess sweat, oil, and blackheads. To avoid more breakouts, consider creating a summer skincare routine that combats acne and dark spots.
How Acne Forms
Pores are tiny holes on your skin that release oil, sweat, and connect to hair follicles. They have sebaceous glands, which are responsible for releasing the oil that causes acne. Furthermore, pores can be large or small, depending on where they’re located. Larger pores produced more sebum or oil.
Acne could pop up anywhere on your skin. They commonly appear as white bumps, or whiteheads, and black bumps, known as blackheads. Additionally, there are other forms of acne, including papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.
When oil, sweat, dirt, or bacteria clog your pores, acne forms. Sebum, the oil produced by your sebaceous glands, is released to lubricate and protect your skin. When your skin produces excess sebum, it combines with dead skin cells and other buildups to create acne.
Causes of Acne
Acne has a variety of underlying causes. For instance, it can be genetic. Another major cause is hormonal changes. Acne can be a sign that you’ve started puberty. It can also appear during pregnancy.
Your diet can increase acne, as well. Eating high amounts of carbohydrates, refined sugars, and processed foods could increase the probability of getting pimples. Oral medications, including birth control and corticosteroids, can also cause acne production.
Often, acne leaves scarring, which can be equally unflattering. Inflamed bumps typically turn into acne scars, especially with irritation. It’s essential to find ways to treat both acne and scarring.
Acne Diagnosis and Treatment
When you begin seeing acne on your face or body, you should visit a dermatologist. They’ll evaluate the severity of your breakouts and prescribe a solution. Typically, dermatologists recommend self-care and hygiene changes for mild cases. If your acne is severe, they’ll recommend medication.
A common self-care solution is daily cleansing. Washing with a mild soap removes excess dirt and sebum before it builds up and clogs your pores. Experts recommend washing your hair regularly and keeping it off your face. Facial pores absorb oil and bacteria from unwashed hair, resulting in breakouts.
When wearing makeup, choose a water-based variety or a product with a label that says non-comedogenic. This means the makeup won’t clog your pores. If you’re not cleaning your face or applying makeup, touch your face as little as possible. Doing so puts you at risk of unknowingly transferring dirt and other toxins you pick up from surfaces to your face through your hands and fingertips.
In severe cases, you’ll likely need medication. These over-the-counter medications include bacteria-killing ingredients. For instance, benzoyl peroxide is a popular acne treatment ingredient used to dry pimples and kill bacteria. Salicylic acid prevents clogged pores. Resorcinol, on the otherhand is a popular choice for dead cell removal.
If your acne doesn’t subside, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication. You may need to temporarily take antibiotics for inflammation and killing bacteria. These come in oral and topical forms. Furhtermore, you may receive a prescription for oil-reducing topical creams with retinoic acid or prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide. These ingredients disallow antibiotic resistance.
Acne Procedures for Clear Skin
If you suffer from severe acne even after the previously mentioned treatments, your dermatologist may suggest procedures to remove the damaged skin. A popular treatment is a chemical peel. In this procedure, the superficial layer of the skin will be peeled off, taking with it any blemishes or acne marks. This is also effective for light acne scar removal.
You can also get dermabrasion, which removes the top skin layers with a brush. This process removes dead skin cells as well as acne scarring. In severe cases of cystic acne, cortisone steroids are injected into your face for quicker healing and minimize inflammation.
Natural Acne Alternatives
If you want a holistic approach to clearer skin, there is a list of available options.
Cinnamon and Honey Mask
Honey and cinnamon have high antioxidant content. Researchers found that applying antioxidants topically reduces acne better than benzoyl peroxide. Honey and cinnamon also have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
To make the mask, add a teaspoon of cinnamon to two tablespoons of honey. After washing your face, apply the paste for up to fifteen minutes. Rinse your face and pat dry.
Green Tea Toner
Green tea, like honey and cinnamon, has a high antioxidant content. It doesn’t just give you healthy, glowing skin. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate, an antioxidant in green tea, causes less sebum production as well as reduces inflammation.
To start, steep your green tea for four minutes. Once cool, transfer your tea into a spray or applicator bottle. You can either apply your toner to a cotton ball or spritz directly onto your face.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is known for its many health properties. In fact, many commercial products include aloe vera gel. Aloe Vera can be used alone or mixed in with other ingredients like lemon juice or tea tree oil to create a mask.
Start with a clean aloe vera leaf. Carefully remove the spiked edges with a sharp knife. Remove the peel and apply the gel to your face. You can rinse it off or leave it on. This remedies acne and scarring.
Apple Cider Vinegar Toner
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples and is great for the skin. ACV has acidic properties that remove damaged skin and increase skin regeneration, similar to a chemical peel. Be sure to always dilute ACV prior to application.
To start, mix one-part ACV with three-parts water in an applicator bottle. This mixture can be sprayed onto your face or applied with a cotton ball. If you need a more potent blend, you can increase your ratio to equal parts water and ACV. Your ratio depends on the severity of your acne.
A major way to stay on top of acne is following a healthy lifestyle.Eat a balanced diet, drink adequate amounts of water, and exercise regularly. Also, be sure to get enough rest and keep stress levels low.
If you apply these techniques and your acne persists, be sure to speak with your dermatologist. Healthy skin not only impacts physical and mental health. Clear skin improves emotional health, too.