Damn! I thought I was winning…Yesterday my skin looked clear, bright and smooth without a sign of a breakout, but this morning I have woken up with a big, red pimple! It actually feels as though it has its own heartbeat! Help!
Not only can Acne be an incredibly sore, uncomfortable and irritating skin condition that most of us have had to deal with at some point during our lives, but it can also leave irreparable scarring. Not just physical scarring but emotional scarring too.
From Grade One Acne where we see the random dispersion of both open comedones (think blackheads) and closed comedones (whiteheads) on the face, all the way to Grade Four Acne where we see both open and closed comedones along with inflammation and associated discomfort – Acne and everything that goes with it, can be one of the most challenging skin conditions to treat. Trust me, I have been through it myself!
My own struggles with Acne over the years was one of the main reasons i so desperately wanted to build a career in the skin care and aesthetics industry. It was my calling – to want to help others that may have experienced the pain both physical and emotional, of Acne.
With that being said, today I would love to take you on a deep dive into WHAT Acne is and how the cells and systems of the integumentary system play a vital role in the formation of this inflammatory skin condition. We take a look at WHY you or someone you may know is experiencing this condition and understand more about the triggers of Acne. We will finish by understanding HOW we can work to treat this skin by working with physiological skin care that is designed to repair and rebuild the skin.
So what exactly is Acne?
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs within the Pilosebaceous Unit or the ‘hair follicle’. Our Pilosebaceous Units are mainly found on the upper portions of the body – our face, chest and upper back. The pilosebaceous unit is made up of the hair follicle, the hair itself and a sebaceous gland that is attached. It is within the sebaceous gland that our sebum is created and continually deposited out and into the follicle. In most cases, this sebum is almost like an olive oil consistency and easily glides up the hair shaft and makes its way to the outermost layer of the skin where it joins with other lipids and our microbiome to form one of our skins barrier defences.
It is in a skin that is showing signs of acne, we see this process change!
In an acne skin not only we see an over production of sebum within the sebaceous gland, this sebum can become thick and sticky – think a buttery consistency! This thick and sticky sebum is unable to effectively make its way up and onto the surface of the skin and becomes trapped. Not only is there an increase in the production and consistency of the sebum, but we also see an over abundance of redundant skin cells in and around the mouth of the follicle and this combined with sebum will lead to the plugs we see – congestion!
So, why does this happen?
There are a number of different triggers to Acne however, the main components are –
- Excess oil (sebum) production – thick and sticky consistency
- Hair follicles becoming built up with oil and redundant skin cells – creating blockages/plugs
- Bacteria – that can lead to inflammation
In addition to these triggers there are many more to be aware of –
- Hormonal changes. The main culprit are our Androgen hormones! These hormones increase the activity of our sebaceous gland leading to increased sebum production! Hormone changes throughout ones life may alter these hormones. For women this can be particularly challenging. Contraceptive Pill or medications, Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Menopause and the use of HRT can all effect the type and levels of hormones that are being produced. Too much testosterone = Increased sebum production!
- Diet. Studies indicate that consuming certain foods — including carbohydrate-rich foods, such as bread, pasta and processed foods – may worsen acne. Think about all of those yummy refined ‘white’ foods that we may consume at different times!
- Stress. The relationship between stress and acne has been misunderstood by many. We know that stress can’t directly cause acne. However, it has been shown that if you already have acne, stress does make it worse. This i due to the fact that wounds, including acne, are much slower in healing when a person is under stress. Slower healing of acne means that the pustules and papules stay longer and are more susceptible to increasing in severity.
- Inappropriate product use. Utilising products that have been created for the mass market, products that are stripping and drying, products that contain non physiological ingredients can all contribute to the worsening of acne! In my career i have seen so many clients that had used mass produced ‘Acne’ products that had completely broken down and removed the first three lines of barrier defence! The over cleansing and exfoliation of our barrier can lead to a worsening of acne! We need to stop removing and start adding to and strengthening the skin!
- Picking the skin. Just. Don’t. Go. There! Have you ever noticed that the day following a good squeezing session, the siblings and the cousins of the original culprit come for a visit? What i mean by this is that by picking the skin we unnecessarily spread bacteria and can exacerbate the overproduction of the wrong bacteria on the skin. Not only can we make the breakout worse on the surface, we can create internal damage to our structural protein – Collagen! What this will eventually lead to is scarring!
So what can we do in the fight against acne? Which ingredients should you look out for to target this concern and to strengthen the skin? Let’s take a look –
First we need to shift our thinking and re learn how to treat this skin condition in a more gentle and caring way. This is where dermaviduals formulations come into play.
At dermaviduals we work with the skincare methodology of Corneotherapy where we focus on repairing and rebuilding the skin rather than stripping and removing! Each dermaviduals formulation has been created with the fundamentals of Corneotherapy in mind and we are proud that our products are free form the following ingredients that can wreak havoc on a skin, particularity a skin that is effected by acne –
- Mineral Oils
Look for skin physiological ingredients such as Phosphatidylcholine, triglycerides, ceramides and Phytosterols that all work to mimic and replicate the barrier lipids that may have been removed from over cleansing the skin.
Active ingredients such as Echinacea, Hamamelis and Azelaic Acid that will work to support the skin and prevent inflammation. Zinc and Vitamin B to help prevent breakouts from occurring. D Panthenol and Hyaluronic Acid to support with hydration and the natural desquamation process.
So next time you are looking at products to help with your concern of ace, seek out your local dermaviduals skin expert will be in the best position to take you through an advanced skin analysis and create a truly bespoke home care recommendation for you and each of your skin care needs.
To locate your nearest dermaviduals stockist and skin care therapist, please find them in our clinic finder here💙
(Feature image courtesy La Bella Medispa – Before and Afters, Acne.)