The excess sebum rises through the hair duct to the skin surface, making it oilier. This is the first sign of acne. The excessive sebum secretion is greater in areas of the body with the most sebaceous glands, namely the “T zone” of the face (forehead, nose, and chin), the chest, and the upper back.
The excess sebum accumulates in the hair duct, mixes with dead cells and sometimes bacteria, and can block the hair duct. This is what is known as a “comedo.” If the comedo is on the skin surface it will look like a black dot (“blackhead”). The dark color is due to the melanin deposit (cells that give the skin its color).
If the comedo is closed because the epidermal cells cover it, it is called a “micro cyst” or “whitehead,” and can subsequently become a blackhead or burst.
Pimples are caused by the accumulation of sebum in the sebaceous glands, promoting the growth of the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. When these bacteria multiply, they secrete substances that cause inflammation (redness, pain, heat, and swelling).
A number of factors can make acne worse, including stress, menstruation, some medications, squeezing or scratching pimples, and rubbing the skin too hard. The simple tips below are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and will help reduce the risk of developing new acne lesions.
DON’T OVERWASH YOUR SKIN
Contrary to what one might think, oily skin is delicate. Washing it too often or using products that are too strong will stimulate the production of sebum and aggravate the problem. When washing your face, try using your fingers rather than a washcloth to reduce the risk of irritation. Clean your skin no more than twice a day. Use a mild, alcohol-free cleanser instead of soap.
AVOID SQUEEZING OR SCRATCHING YOUR PIMPLES
Popping pimples only makes acne worse. When a pimple bursts, bacteria spread to neighboring skin and can contaminate it. Remember that squeezing a pimple increases swelling and redness!
MAKEUP IS FINE, BUT REMEMBER TO LET YOUR SKIN BREATHE!
Choose light, oil-free cosmetics labeled “noncomedogenic” (or antiblackhead), because these products are less likely to block your pores. Products containing tinted matifying ingredients may be a good option for masking spots. Go makeup free at least once a week to allow your skin to breathe and help it heal.
Since makeup brushes harbor bacteria, remember to wash them regularly with an antibacterial soap.
Stress can cause hormonal changes that aggravate your acne. Regular physical activity or relaxation exercises are a good way to beat stress and curb your acne!
CAUTION Exposure to sun improves acne temporarily. In the long term, however, the sun’s rays, heat, and humidity promote the blocking of the hair ducts through which the sebum flows. Avoid exposure to the sun or apply a noncomedogenic sunscreen with 30 SPF or more to avoid exacerbating the problem.
Whenever possible avoid wearing caps, helmets, or sweatbands because they can increase your chances of developing acne wherever they touch your skin.
You can treat acne using products that reduce the amount of sebum produced, kill the bacteria responsible for acne lesions, and reduce skin inflammation. A mild case of acne can be treated with over-the-counter medications containing 2.5% or 5% benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide prevents the formation of blackheads and slows the multiplication of the bacteria responsible for acne.
Your health professional can help you choose the formulation that’s best for you. If you have sensitive skin, apply the product gradually over the area where you have acne. Avoid getting the product on dark colored clothing or bedclothes because benzoyl peroxide can bleach them. It is also important to use sunscreen with 30 SPF or more because your skin can become more sensitive to the sun.
For severe cases, other types of lotions, creams, or oral treatments can be prescribed by your doctor.
Treating acne effectively takes patience—it will be 8 to 12 weeks before you see any improvement. Some treatments can cause minor irritation or dryness, which will disappear once your skin gets used to the treatment. A noncomedogenic moisturizer will help reduce the dryness.
Don’t stop your treatment immediately when it looks like your acne lesions have disappeared. Talk to your health professional about how long you should continue your acne treatment once your skin looks healthy again.
CAUTION If left untreated, acne can sometimes leave permanent scars.
Don’t forget! Wash your sheets and pillowcase regularly to reduce your contact with built-up oil and dirt.
|STEPS TO FOLLOW
when using an acne treatment, moisturizers, and makeup:
- Gently clean and pat dry your face.
- Wait at least five minutes before applying your acne treatment.
- Then apply your moisturizer or sunscreen.
- Apply makeup last to avoid reducing the effectiveness of your other products.