Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples to form. If you have acne, you are not alone. While 85% of teenagers suffer from this skin condition, adults also have acne. In fact, some adults who do not experience acne as adolescents develop the skin condition in their 20s. This can also be the case in women who are in their 30s or 40s.
To acne sufferers, this condition is no laughing matter. We all want to look our absolute best – at the office, gym, yoga studio, and even relaxing at home. When a new pimple breaks the surface, it can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life as well as your self-confidence.
While this skin condition is common, it does not make it any easier to deal with, treat, and get rid of for good. If you suffer from acne, you have probably researched how to get rid of acne on your own. But your pimples could be telling you some things that you might have never considered. And the more you know about your acne, the more effectively you can treat and get rid of it once and for all!
How do pimples develop?Basically, pimples form in four steps:
- First, hair follicles are blocked with tons of normal skin cells. On top of that, sebum – a natural oil found in your skin hair – plugs up the follicle.
- The sebaceous glands that produce sebum become enlarged, particularly during teenage years. These glands are found where acne is generally found: on the face, back, chest, and upper arms.
- Because of this increase in sebum, Propionibacterium acnes (a form of bacteria that is normally found on your skin) overgrows.
- The excess bacteria growth results in inflammation and rupture of the follicle, which ultimately forms the pimple.
What are the common causes of acne?
Contrary to what your mother may have told you when you were a teenager, acne is generally not caused by simply not washing your face enough. Here are some common causes:
More than likely, stress makes existing acne worse. According to a study, students’ acne worsened during stressful times, particularly during exam periods. So if you are experiencing high amounts of stress in your work and/or personal life, it may be exacerbating your acne.
Pimples can flare up before a woman’s period due to hormones. This is especially true for women who are older than 30.
Changes in hormone levels
A woman’s changing hormones during her cycle can greatly affect skin and become a cause for acne. A condition called polycystic ovary syndrome could also be the cause of changing hormone levels, but this is rare.
You have probably heard the expression “You are what you eat.” This is true when it comes to your skin and acne. There is a possibility that dairy products may be a cause for an increased risk of acne due to natural hormones in cow’s milk. While further research is required, some studies show that milk and chocolate, in addition to high fat foods, have a tendency to trigger pimple outbreaks.
Your foundation and blush may be the culprit for your pimples. Cosmetics that contain oils can clog your pores, making acne more susceptible to develop or worsen. It is best to use noncomedogenic beauty and makeup products since they are water-based and not oil-based. Also, face-cleaning products that contain harsh astringents do more damage than good to sensitive and irritated acne-prone skin.
How to get rid of acne
While a magic pill or ideal skin regime would be wonderful for the treatment of acne, it is not that cut and dry. While one method may be the answer for some, a combination of methods may be the answer for many women.
Be gentle. Pimples are a sign that your skin needs some TLC, so avoid picking, squeezing, and scrubbing, which can all do unwanted damage such as scarring and redness. To avoid drying out your skin, refrain from over-cleansing and removing excess oil. It is also recommended that you ditch that face loofah and simply use your hands to wash your face and neck twice a day. Lukewarm or cool water is preferred over hot water, and using a gentle, PH-balanced, fragrance-free cleanser will sooth your skin. And remember to avoid needlessly touching your face during the day.
Use a moisturizer daily. If you suffer from acne and oily pores, you still need a daily noncomedogenic moisturizer to combat dryness. This is especially important for women in their 20s and beyond. If your skin is excessively oily, try a mild AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid) wash or peel to help reduce some of the oil.
Use non-prescription treatments. If you have mild to moderate acne, you may get some improvement using non-prescription products such as beta-thujaplicin, witch hazel, activated charcoal powder, tea tree oil, and benzoyl peroxide. A combination of these products may be your answer for how to get rid of acne, so experiment carefully to find a personalized regime.
If you have moderate to severe acne, you may need to try other methods:
Topical medications: Retinoids and other topical medications such as salicylic acid can be helpful in treating non-inflammatory acne (whiteheads or blackheads without redness). These skin products can be quite harsh and are known to cause irritation.
Oral antibiotics: Studies have shown that while oral antibiotics may be beneficial for short-term results in the treatment of acne, they pose serious possible side effects and should not be used long-term in order to avoid bacterial resistance. Oral antibiotics also carry strict precautions for women of childbearing age.
Hormone therapy: Estrogen in the form of a birth control pill is beneficial for some women with moderate to severe acne. But it some cases, birth control pills should not be used solely for acne treatment because they can actually worsen your skin. If you are trying hormone therapy, be aware that you will not see results until at least 3 months after treatment has begun.
Having acne at any age is not pleasant. Learning how to get rid of acne once and for all can be frustrating and confusing. But with a little love for your skin and the discovery of a regime that works for you, your acne could very well become a thing of the past!