Acne is problem all of us have faced at one point or another in our lives, whether it was an occasional breakout or two or wide spread acne all over the face. One thing I’m sure we can all agree with is that it can be a very frustrating battle. In my experience, I have found that some of our acne flare ups are due to things that can simply be avoided.
Before I move on, let’s go over the 4 types of acne:
This describes skin that is beginning to show the typical first signs of acne: greasiness, open blackheads, sometimes in large numbers, and a few spots. There is no inflammation.
Spots may be larger, usually red and/or filled with pus, with signs of black heads and white heads (comedones). There is slight inflammation of the skin. Breakouts will appear more often and breakout activity is more apparent.
The skin is now obviously inflamed and reddened. The usual signs of acne, such as red and yellow spots and comedones will be present but far more widespread and inflamed. Papules and pustules appear in larger numbers. Severe acne usually affects other regions, such as the neck, chest, shoulders, and/or upper back, in addition to the face.
The most serious form of acne, but luckily not very common. The usual signs of acne, such as red and yellow spots and comedones, will be present, but far more widespread and very angry looking. Someone with this type of acne will often have large cysts. A cyst is a pus-filled spot over 5mm in diameter. There are numerous comedones, papules, pustules, and nodules, in addition to cysts. There is a pronounced degree of inflammation and breakouts are severe. Cystic acne is very painful.
While people who suffer from acne grades 3 and 4 will be better off visiting a physician’s office for a more in-depth treatment, I believe all can benefit from these tips I will be sharing.
1. Make an appointment with your skin care specialist.
This is great way to see if you would be a good candidate for a chemical peel. Peels can help dry up the excess oil in the pore, reduce inflammation and help reduce the look of any acne scaring you pickers may have.
There are several types of peels that an acne patient can benefit from so it is very important to see a professional to see what best fits you as an individual.
Deep cleansing facials are also very beneficial to help keep those clogged pores from becoming inflamed.
2. What are you using at home?
This is the place many go wrong. Whether you’re using the wrong products for your skin type or you are simply overdoing it, I have found in my experience as an aesthetician that it’s usually one or the other.
For example, I would say most of my client base is middle-aged women and many of them suffer with acne as an adult. I find many of them go straight for the acne products they would have used or have used as an adolescent. But take in consideration the fact that as a middle-aged individual, your skin is much different from that of a teenager.
As we age, our skin becomes thinner, drier, and odds are, has undergone damage from the sun, pollution and other external factors. Therefore, the aggressive acne cleansers and treatments we used in our teens can simply aggravate our acne.
For an adult, who may have breakouts but areas of dryness as well, try a using a mild foaming cleanser during the day and a salicylic wash at night, this will help to keep the skin clean without overdoing it.
For a teen, who most likely has more oily skin overall, using the salicylic wash both day and night should be fine. Avoid harsh scrubs that can irritate the skin and worsen breakouts.
Using a light moisturizer with an SPF of at least 30, paired with a spot treatment that contains salicylic, benzoyl peroxide or tea tree oil will also help.
Again, I would highly recommend seeing a professional who can evaluate your skin and customize a skin care regimen for you.
Digging deeper …
There are internal factors that can also cause breakouts such as stress, hormone imbalance for example peri-menopause, and even certain medications. All of us have busy lives and to say “don’t stress” is almost like saying don’t blink, its a natural response our body has when under pressure, which for some of us, happens more often than others. However I will say, find what works for you, there are different ways people cope with stress, some by exercising, others with music and still others with simply finding a positive friend to vent to. What ever you decide to do, make time for it. Stress causes harm in so many different levels.
As for the hormone imbalance and medication, that’s way out of my league, lucky for me I work for Dr Mowett who’s expertise is in hormonal balancing and dermatology. This could make a significant improvement in your skin, set an appointment with her to see if this would fit you. When it comes to medications, ask your doctor if there are any side affects that could cause acne flare-ups if so, there may be an alternative treatment.
3. NO PICKING YOUR SKIN OR ANYONE ELSE’!!! (that includes friends, siblings, or partners)
If you develop a pimple or nodule do not pop or squeeze these legions, your skin will take longer to heal. Picking will only cause inflammation resulting in post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spot) and spread bacteria. There is a time and place to get those comedones out and it should be done after exfoliating and applying steam to the skin to soften the pore. The best way to extract (not pick) a black head without breaking the skin and causing a scar is with a simple technique, “spread, rock and roll” the comedone out.
If it doesn’t slide right out after you have exfoliated and applied steam it’s time to make an appointment with your skincare specialist for a deep cleansing treatment.
4. Stay out of the sun.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays can increase inflammation and redness. Some acne medications may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Limit your time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Whether you have pimples or not, always apply sunblock with SPF 30 or higher at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Look for “noncomedogenic” on the sunscreen label to make new breakouts less likely.
Although these tips may not solve all your acne concerns, I hope it provides you with a better understanding of acne and acne management. From what I have seen firsthand, they can definitely help. I encourage you to try them and let me know how it went.