Acne: It's a Breakout Not a Blemish
I have suffered from mild acne at several points in my life, particularly during the early stages of 2 of my pregnancies. I couldn’t believe that I could start getting spots in my thirties!
It is one of the most common skin conditions among children and adults. It can be either inflammatory or non-inflammatory and is characterised by blackheads, whiteheads, pus filled spots and cysts. Non-inflammatory acne tends to be in the form of blackheads or whiteheads and doesn’t cause swelling whilst inflammatory acne causes larger, swollen and often painful spots.
Acne usually starts at puberty, varies in severity from a few spots on the face, shoulders and back to a more significant problem that can lead to scarring and have a huge impact on self-confidence.
What are the main causes of acne?
Those of us who are prone to acne tend to be more sensitive to certain hormones which cause the sebaceous glands to produce an excess of oil. This oil then mixes with dead skin cells to form a ‘plug’ in the follicles, which, if close to the surface of the skin cause it to bulge outwards. Bacteria that live on the skin can then contaminate and infect these follicles causing more prominent and painful cysts.
Although acne can be hereditary it is far more likely to happen for unknown reasons.
How is acne treated?
Many of the over-the-counter and prescribed treatments for acne rely on harsh chemicals and are particularly irritating and drying for the skin. These include topical treatments such as creams and lotions, oral antibiotics and contraceptive pills.
There are other forms of treatment available as well including light and laser therapy but these have received mixed results.
Emotional impact of acne
Sadly the effects of acne can go far deeper than the skin and can often be worse than the physical impact. Self-esteem, body image and socialisation are often affected, causing people to avoid eye contact, cover their face (ie. By growing their hair long) or determining what they wear, leading to anxiety and depression.
Although there is currently no cure for acne, there are certainly some steps that can be taken to ease the severity of it and hopefully bring some comfort, both physically and mentally.
- The first thing to remember is that acne is a breakout and not a blemish – how you think about your acne is particularly important. It is not a personal flaw, it is an inflammation of the skin.
- Try not to pick or squeeze your spots as this can aggravate them and spread the infection as well as leading to scarring. I realise this is so difficult to do, and is often done unconsciously. I have struggled with acne at different points in my life and this is the step I find the most difficult!
- Establish a great skincare routine, using natural products that won’t irritate and dry out your skin.
- Cleanse morning and evening. I would suggest our Oat & Mandarin Cleanser as it is full of soothing ingredients that won’t dry your skin out. Remove with a warm, wet cloth – but be sure to use a fresh one every time.
- Avoid harsh scrubs that can cause tiny tears in the skin and lead to the spread of infection. Instead choose a lighter option such as a konjac sponge, which work to gently exfoliate the skin and slough away the dead skin cells.
- Face masks can work wonders but don't use them more than once a week. Please visit our Face Mask for Acne Blog for a few great recipes you can easily try at home!
- Please avoid anything with harsh ingredients in it. A floral water will soothe and freshen but more importantly will promote healing.
- Moisturising is a very important part of treating acne as hydrated skin helps to loosen the built up sebum inside the pores. You want to avoid heavy products that can clog the pores and opt instead for lightweight lotions and oils. A small amount of a lighter oil such as jojoba, melon or evening primrose can bring balance to your skin.
- Avoid synthetic fragrances as these can cause irritation.
- Make-up may boost your self-confidence but use products that are oil-free or water-based. Choose products that are either labelled as ‘non-comedogenic’ or ‘non-acnegenic’ as these are less likely to clog pores.
- Eat a balanced diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish to improve your overall health. There is some evidence that suggests that dairy products and processed foods such as white bread, sweetened breakfast cereals and some pastas may exacerbate acne.
Society is full of unobtainable images of body types and perfect skin, but these are unrealistic. Social media almost requires us to photoshop our images, using the right angles and filters but these are setting impossible standards. The vast majority of what we see online is NOT real. More positive self-love will help these unrealistic standards to go away.
Remember, people are far more worried about themselves and how they look to scrutinise you! Remind yourself that your breakouts do not affect your self-worth and be happy in your own skin.