Acne is the most common chronic skin condition in the United States. It occurs when hair follicles in the skin become plugged with oil, dirt, or dead skin cells. The plugged follicles eventually become inflamed, resulting in a pimple.
There’s no cure for acne, but it is possible to manage and treat it. The first step is to identify what’s causing the breakouts in the first place. In general, acne breakouts can be triggered for the following reasons.
The oil glands in our skin tend to react quickly to hormonal changes in the body. This is the reason why acne is associated with teenagers, who experience huge hormonal changes as they go through puberty.
Androgen is the main hormone believed to be responsible for acne. As androgen levels rise during puberty, so does the skin’s oil production.
An estimated two-thirds of all teenagers will experience acne. However, hormonal changes can still trigger acne in adults. Women will often see breakouts around menstruation or during pregnancy. Steroids or stress can also affect a person’s hormone levels and can make existing acne worse.
People whose parents suffered from acne are very likely to experience it themselves. We can inherit certain dispositions that can contribute to breakouts. A person’s immune system, skin sensitivity, and even skin oiliness can all be determined by their genes, which is why acne tends to run in families.
In some cases, pollutants in the air can interact with oil and bacteria on our skin to clog pores, which ultimately leads to breakouts. Also, people who work around lots of grease, like restaurant workers in kitchens with fry vats, can experience breakouts if the grease gets on their skin.
Heavy moisturizers and makeup can clog pores and cause pimples as well. Products that are labeled oil-free or non-comedogenic—which means the product doesn’t clog pores—are generally safe to use.
Propionibacterium acnes is the main bacteria responsible for acne. P. acnes lives on the skin of all people, found deep inside the follicles and pores. When the pores become clogged, the bacteria multiply and cause infection. P. acnes can also produce an enzyme after “digesting” sebum. An overgrowth of those enzymes can cause inflammation, which can aggravate existing acne.
How To Properly Treat Acne
Many people can successfully treat their acne by practicing self-care and using over-the-counter products that are formulated specifically to prevent and treat acne. The help of a doctor or dermatologist might be needed if a case is particularly severe.
Doctors can prescribe oral or topical medications that are stronger than over-the-counter products. Retinoid creams, antibiotics, and oral contraceptives for women are examples of medications that can be prescribed for acne.
A doctor might also recommend certain cosmetic procedures to help clear pores, fade dark marks, and improve overall skin health. Here are a few examples of skin therapies that can help people struggling with acne:
Limelight IPL: Also called an IPL photofacial, Limelight IPL uses intense pulsed light to reduce the look of skin imperfections. During this procedure, an esthetician will use a handpiece to direct broadband light pulses to the affected areas of the skin. The light gets absorbed by any spots on the skin that are darker than the surrounding area. After treatment, these spots will flake off as the skin naturally sheds its top layers.
Chemical Peel: During a chemical peel, a chemical formula with an acidic pH level is applied to the skin. This formula gently removes the top layers of the skin, revealing fresher, healthier skin underneath.
Chemical peels can help people with acne and acne scars, but they can also benefit people who wish to reverse mild signs of aging. Chemical peels are generally safe, but they are not recommended for people who are taking Accutane.
Microdermabrasion: With microdermabrasion, a diamond-tipped wand is used to exfoliate the face and vacuum away loose, dead skin cells. The diamond tip is very fine, so it provides smooth, even abrasion over the entire face. Microdermabrasion takes just 30 minutes and requires no downtime, so it’s a popular and safe treatment for acne.
When to See a Professional
Ideally, you should see a professional anytime you’re unhappy with the health of your skin. With all the contributing factors and all the ways to treat the problem, acne can be especially difficult to manage on your own.
At Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique in Houston, our staff of experts can recommend the right treatment for you and perform any of the therapies mentioned above. To get started on your journey to a more confident you, contact us to book your first consultation.