When we were younger, almost everyone got a few pimples here and there. For some people, however, acne is a more serious issue. This guide will help you understand what causes acne and treat it effectively.
Causes of Acne
To understand how acne is treated, it’s important to know what causes acne. Several factors play a role in the occurrence of pimples and blemishes, but some of the most common include:
Acne occurs when there is an increase of certain hormones called androgens. This is especially common in puberty and during menstruation for women. Hormones are complex, but the important thing to know is that hormones can cause your skin to produce more sebum.
Your skin naturally produces an oily substance called sebum. Sebum acts as a lubricant for your skin and hair, keeping them soft and smooth. When you have excess sebum production due to elevated hormone levels, sebum can get trapped in your pores and cause blemishes.
While it’s often attributed only to excess sebum production, clogged pores are also caused by hormones, dirt, and dead skin cells. When this mixture becomes trapped within the pore, it can cause inflammation and irritation. You want to clean your face regularly to prevent this from getting out of hand.
Some foods can trigger an increase in sebum production. Dairy is one of the most common culprits, though we aren’t sure how dairy relates to androgens and hormone changes that cause acne. Other foods associated with increased breakouts include:
In some cases, certain sugar alcohols may be a factor in acne outbreaks. Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate, and they’re found in processed products like candy bars. If you have acne, it’s best to monitor your intake of these foods to see any improvement by limiting them in your diet.
Treating acne is usually a matter of finding the right combination of treatments that address your skin’s specific needs. Some acne treatment options include:
Benzoyl peroxide is an acne treatment found in many over-the-counter products. It works by killing the bacteria associated with acne breakouts and reducing oil production. You can use benzoyl peroxide as a face wash or lotion to help kill the bacteria that cause blemishes.
Salicylic acid works in two ways: it targets your oil-producing glands, and it removes dead skin cells that get trapped within your pores. By reducing the amount of sebum production and cleaning out blocked pores, salicylic acid can help reduce acne breakouts. Salicylic acid is often paired with any of the other treatments mentioned above, and it’s a common ingredient in many face washes.
As you get older, your skin naturally produces less oil. Retinol helps speed up this process by stimulating your skin to produce more collagen and elastin, reducing acne breakouts. Retinol is often combined with other acne treatments, but it can also be used independently.
Because acne can cause so many problems, it’s important to try your best to minimize the damage. If you’re unsure where to begin, consider trying out an over-the-counter product that combines salicylic acid with benzoyl peroxide. This is an effective treatment for most people. If you do not see the results you want, talk to your doctor about other options.