Acne is a common inflammatory skin condition mainly affecting men and women of all races and ethnicities. It is prevalent in adolescents with 85% of 16 to 18 year olds affected but it may also occur in children and adults of all ages.
What causes acne?
Acne can occur for a number of reasons and genetics can play a part, however, there are 4 main causes:
- Overproduction of sebum/oil
- Bacteria, mainly Propionibacterium acnes
- Lack of exfoliation
These reasons often combine to activate the immune system with an inflammatory response.
So what can you do to overcome these causes?
For hormonal I would suggest seeking advice from your GP as regular skincare alone may not help here.
To help with overproduction of sebum, vitamin A can regulate production of sebum when used topically. Look for skincare products containing vitamin A but just be careful to introduce slowly into your skincare regime (*Note, this ingredient is not suitable for use during pregnancy).
To decrease bacteria on the surface of the skin antibacterial ingredients may help either used topically or in some cases orally. These products are available through your GP or dermatologist, if deemed necessary.
Preferably the use of exfoliating agents in acne would be chemical based rather than physical (such as scrubs) as they would be less damaging to the skin. Exfoliation is important to allow shedding of the outer layers of the skin and not allow oil to be trapped. The main products that will help here would be AHAs and the BHA, salicylic acid.
One or more of these causes can trigger and worsen inflammation in the skin. Inflammation can also caused by things like illness (eg. Polycystic ovarian disease), certain foods (high-glycaemic carbohydrates, dairy products and saturated fats) and stress can be a significant factor.
Some practical tips:
- Don't use skin care products containing scrubs as these can actually cause overproduction of sebum and continue the inflammatory cycle.
- Introduce new skincare gradually and try not to use too many new products at the one time.
- Don't squeeze spots. As tempting as this is, it can spread the bacteria and cause further damage including scarring.
- Wash your makeup brushes and pillowcases regularly to avoid build-up of bacteria and oils.
- Don't use toothpaste or nappy cream on your acne.
- Don't be afraid to seek help from your GP.
As always, I'm available for advice and if you want to see what products I have for acne and oily skin follow the link here or message me on my Instagram @tonicskincareni
PGDip in Dermatology in Clinical Practice
Tonic Skincare Expert