What is acne?
Acne is a common skin care problem. It occurs when pores become clogged by a combination of an oily substance produced by the skin called sebum, dirt, and dead skin cells. The visible result is acne, which is the term used to describe blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cysts. Acne usually appears on the face and neck but it can include shoulders, back, and arms.
What can cause an acne breakout?
Breakouts and triggers can vary from person to person. Some triggers can include:
Cosmetics - look for the following acne-friendly terms on product labels: “oil-free”, “non-comedogenic”, or “non-acnegenic”.
Pressure and friction - hats, helmets, bra straps and other tight clothing can lead to localized acne that develops at the point of skin contact.
Sweating - for some people, sweating can lead to clogged pores, especially if trapped under clothing.
Overwashing - scrubbing/exfoliating, or using strong cleansers or astringent products can actually strip the skin and irritate it.
Medications - some medications can cause acne to flare up. Check with your doctor.
Menstrual cycle and hormone fluctuations.
Picking - touching, squeezing or popping pimples can lead to possible infection and scarring.
Food - certain foods can aggravate acne. Try removing them from your diet.
What are some acne myths?
Eating greasy food causes acne. Scientific studies have not been able to prove this, but if you notice that a specific food triggers a break out, try to avoid it.
Poor hygiene. Acne is not caused by dirty skin. In fact, over-washing vigorously can actually make acne worse.
Acne will clear up on its own. While acne may clear up, it can get worse before it gets better and the longer you have acne the greater chance you have for permanent scarring.
You can get acne from someone else. Acne is absolutely NOT contagious.
Sun exposure and tanning can clear acne. While the sun can initially dry skin and surface oil, this is temporary. In fact, people will often have an acne flare-up after UV exposure, not to mention a higher risk of skin cancer.
After I get a pimple it leaves a red mark that takes forever to go away. How can I get rid of this?
This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) – a change in the colour of skin that has undergone trauma. PIH typically resolves on its own, however it may linger for weeks or months. Certain skin types are also more prone to PIH. The best way to prevent PIH is to minimize acne breakouts. When a breakout does occur, avoid the temptation to squeeze or pick. Further trauma to the skin will most certainly lead to PIH which will last far longer than the pimple itself. For stubborn PIH, clinical peels, laser treatments and medical grade skincare can help it fade faster.