Most people experience acne during their teen years, but some people experience it as adults. The two most common reasons that adults break out are from stress and hormone level changes, which can occur from a variety of reasons. Other causes of acne can be rare, which can make them infuriating to figure out and to find an effective form of treatment.
Old school thought holds that all sebum on the face is bad, and that’s why the market was flooded by numerous harsh acne treatments. This conventional wisdom doesn’t pan out, though. The skin, like everything else in the body, seeks balance. The skin produces sebum to keep it healthy. Healthy skin has a pH balance of roughly 5.5. Overstripping the skin of its sebum causes two issues: The skin will create an overabundance of sebum to replace it, and the skin’s natural defense against bacteria is disturbed. Interestingly, some sebum and sweat create the perfect surface to ward off acne.
If a person’s acne is caused by an excessive amount of sebum, the best way to get rid of this type of acne is to gently wash the face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. Use warm water to wash the face, and use gentle washcloths or brushes to cleanse the skin. Scrubbing the skin dries out the top layer and removes too much sebum, which causes pores to become clogged with it. The hardened sebum may turn into blackheads and pustules. It takes a great deal of patience to deal with acne, but slow and steady is the best way.
The skin’s pores need to be kept reasonably clear. Each pore needs to be clear enough that it can allow sebum to reach the surface of the skin to moisturize it. However, it should not be completely void of sebum. If a pore is blocked by hardened sebum, skin cells or other contaminants, sebum will continue to build up. Warm water and gentle cleansers are helpful in removing this buildup; however, some sebum needs to be left behind on the skin so that the skin can continue to be moisturized. Hot water may get rid of sebum, but it is too harsh and will cause additional problems. Salicylic acid is helpful in removing skin cells and hardened sebum from the pores, but moisturizer needs to be used quickly after to avoid additional sebum production. Benzoyl peroxide is useful in combatting acne bacteria, but it too can create dry skin.
Certain products can cause acne because they block and clog the skin’s pores. For instance, noncomedogenic makeup should be used, but it’s important to note that makeup that doesn’t normally clog pores can still cause acne if it is left on overnight or for an extended period of time. It needs to be thoroughly removed from the skin so that it doesn’t cause acne. Makeup should be washed off after exercising as well, as sweat causes additional sebum to be produced.
If hormones are causing acne in women, use of birth control pills has been shown to be effective. Hyperkeratosis, which is a skin condition with excessive keratin, can be cleared up with retinoids. Keratin, in nails and hair, creates strength; however, it is known to block the pores when there is too much. Antibiotics can be useful in treating acne as well.
Acne and its causes vary drastically amongst people because everyone is different. Different factors, such as excessive keratin production, oily skin, dry skin, eczema and other factors, create a variety of acne that can’t be treated in the same manner. Patience and consistency are essential in pinpointing the cause of acne and treating it.
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