Acne – Causes, Treatments, Cures, and Tips
What Causes Acne
Acne is a condition that affects millions of people and is most often attributed to teenagers or preteens going through puberty. But in reality, acne can happen at any age – even to people who are old enough to be grandparents!
But what causes acne? You’ll hear myths about acne – such as acne is caused by greasy foods or not washing well enough – but that’s not entirely true. Acne actually begins below the skin surface.
Your skin is covered with hair follicles. Each person’s body contains millions of hair follicles. Acne is what occurs when any one or more of these follicles become blocked. What causes the blockage?
Your skin produces an oil called sebum. The sebum is passed through the hair follicles on your skin. The purpose of this oil is to keep your skin soft and supple, to keep any possible infections at bay, and to keep the moisture of your body balanced.
The right balance of sebum gives you clear, healthy-looking skin and without enough sebum production, your skin becomes too dry. Two things happen to cause acne. First, acne happens when you have too much production of sebum.
Your skin is normally supposed to shed excess dead skin cells, and the sebum keeps your skin looking great and all is well. But when there’s too much of this oil produced, this causes a problem with how fast your skin is able to shed dead skin cells.
Your pores can’t keep up with the excess. If there were simply too much sebum, you would end up with really shiny skin because you can have oily skin without having acne. But what happens is since the time it takes your skin to shed the dead skin cells doesn’t speed up in conjunction with the overproduction of sebum, the oil and the dead skin cells get trapped.
Like a clog in a sink, whatever is below that clog can’t get out – and it’s the same with an overproduction of sebum. The oil becomes a clog because your skin cells are acting as a lid on the top of the hair follicle.
Once the pores are clogged, your skin then erupts with pimples or blackheads or whiteheads. In some cases, hard cysts can develop. When the skin eruptions become inflamed, it can cause the swelling and redness you see on the skin.
You may see pus in some of the acne. The pus is a result of the infection. Besides too much sebum, bacteria can also cause acne to develop and some types of medication can also cause acne.
Do Foods Cause Acne?
When it comes to the argument of whether or not food causes acne, you’ll find people evenly divided over the question. Some people argue firmly that certain foods do indeed cause the skin to erupt with an acne outbreak. These people would tell you that the reason that teenagers have acne is because they eat a lot of junk food, especially greasy junk food like potato chips –or chocolate.
But in the other camp, there are people who vigorously argue that there are foods that actually help prevent acne from happening. They would argue that acne is caused by oil production problems, hair follicle blockages, and bacteria.
Somewhere in the middle of this argument stands the truth behind the link between certain foods and acne. According to dermatologists, the truth is that junk food alone does not cause acne to happen.
However, there has been a link between some acne outbreaks and diet in an association with hormonal changes. The truth is also that there are indeed some foods that are so good at fighting acne, they can help prevent it from occurring.
Studies have shown that in certain areas of the world, some population groups never experience problems with acne. When studied, it was discovered that these population groups did not eat the high carbohydrate foods most people consume.
Not only that, but there was a limited intake of dairy foods. So the truth is that the foods you eat can work in conjunction with your hormonal makeup and trigger an acne outbreak.
Dairy products have been associated with causing acne. Potato chips are on the suspect list – but so are nuts – and you might be under the assumption that nuts are good for you. You’d be right! Nuts offer a lot of healthy benefits on one hand, but on the other, they are linked to acne outbreaks.
Chocolate, unfortunately, has a well-deserved reputation for being a common denominator in acne problems. Potatoes also show up on the watch list when it comes to acne. So do pizza, French fries, and soda.
You might be surprised to learn that one of the main links between foods and acne is actually milk. You might also be surprised to learn that the link that exists between acne and foods is due to the insulin surge produced by consuming foods that are high on the index scale.
There are many foods that can prevent acne and some of those foods are watermelon, green tea, foods with omega 3, oranges, spinach, foods with antioxidant properties, spinach, and carrots. So the bottom line is that both sides of the argument are correct. There are foods – when linked with hormonal changes – that can cause acne and there are foods that can prevent it.
Oils That Treat Acne
One of the reasons many people are searching for alternatives to traditional acne medications is because some of the medicines contain ingredients that can cause side effects. Alternative and natural treatments offer a fast and healthy way to get rid of acne.
Although oil is usually a culprit for causing acne, it’s also widely known in medical circles that certain oils have healing properties. Many of those oils have been found to be highly effective in both treating and preventing acne outbreaks. One of those oils is Argan oil.
This oil comes from Morocco and is widely praised for its healing ability. Not only is it an antioxidant, but it also contains high levels of vitamin E, which helps the skin heal properly. Treatment methods are fairly simple. Just apply a few drops to the acne and rub it in like you would a lotion.
Another oil that’s helpful with acne is Tamanu oil. This oil comes from the tamanu tree of Asia and contains amazing properties that allow it to repair skin that’s been damaged. It stimulates the growth of new skin. Drops can be applied to the acne with the fingertips or with a cotton ball.
Emu oil is the oil that comes from the Emu bird. This oil has anti-inflammatory ingredients that get rid of the redness and swelling associated with acne. Applied directly to the acne, the oil is a moisturizing agent that fights the bacteria associated with acne outbreaks.
Remember the castor oil you took as a child? It didn’t seem like such a good thing back then, but it turns out that this oil, which comes from castor beans, is loaded with healthy benefits that fight acne. Castor oil works great as a cleanser for acne – but on top of that, it also has anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to help heal the skin.
Jojoba oil isn’t technically an oil – it’s a wax. But this product is great at helping the body control the oil production of the glands. Since the overproduction of oil can lead to acne, this product helps keep outbreaks from occurring. It can be applied directly to acne. All it takes is about a teaspoon of this non-pore-clogging oil.
Fish oil comes from fish livers and has the valuable omega 3 acids that offer many health benefits. Fish oil can be taken as a supplement to help treat acne, but you can also buy it in a liquid form and apply it to the acne. Keep in mind, however, that some of the products do have a slight odor.
Rosehip is an oil that’s loaded with fatty acids, which help repair damaged skin. This oil also contains retinal, which is an ingredient recommended to fight acne. The bacteria-fighting properties of the oil are useful in preventing the reoccurrence of acne.
Manuka oil is used to cure bacterial infections – and by applying it to an acne outbreak, it kills the bacteria that cause the acne. This oil is used to treat fungal infections or rashes, too because of its strong antibacterial properties. It can be used liberally or as a spot treatment.
Treating Back Acne
There are quite a few different theories about what causes back acne to occur and how to treat it. The first thing to remember when treating this is that anyone can get back acne. Although teenagers do have a lot of acne, people of any age can also get it.
While some people believe that acne can be caused by stress, that’s not true. Stress can irritate the acne and sometimes make it worse, but it doesn’t cause it. Another myth is that certain foods – such as chocolate can cause acne.
While food doesn’t cause acne, some foods can mess with your hormones, which can in turn lead to more pimples if you already have a tendency to get acne. It’s easy to get acne on the back because any place on the body where you sweat can become prone to developing sweat related acne.
Your face and back both have numerous sebaceous glands producing sebum that can contribute to acne. There are a few different types of back acne including blackheads, pimples, lesions, and cysts. Whatever kind of acne you may have on your back, there are some easy steps you can take to get rid of it.
If you have mild acne and want to try something simple that doesn’t cost a lot, try using a body wash and a loofah. By using this kind of exfoliating method on your back, the acne can clear up within two weeks. There are also different kinds of exfoliating body scrubs you can purchase that will help clear up mild back acne.
If your back acne is more severe, using body scrubs might actually cause the breakout to become irritated. So if your acne isn’t mild, try using a deep pore exfoliation along with an anti-bacterial wash.
Remember when buying products for back acne treatment to make sure that you buy a product that’s made for the body rather than the face because products made for the body are often stronger than the ones made for the face.
If you’re looking for a more natural treatment for your back acne, things such as tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, and aloe vera can be used. Each one helps heal present acne, protect against future acne, and help with scarring.
Witch Hazel and natural apple cider vinegar are also good natural products to use when dealing with back acne. Products that contain salicylic acid have been proven to help prevent body acne.
Cystic Acne Causes and Treatments
The worst type of acne is called cystic acne. With this type of acne, the blemishes are widespread and are red with an irritated appearance. It’s not unusual for a case of cystic acne to completely cover the face or to appear on other areas of the body.
What causes cystic acne to develop are basically the same reasons that any other acne outbreak occurs. The causes are too much production of the oil called sebum and an inability by the body to get rid of the dead skin cells in accordance with the overproduction of sebum.
Bacteria also play a big part in the development of cystic acne. Bacteria is why some of the cysts can feel painful to the touch. This type of acne is also caused by puberty, by hormonal changes and for women, pregnancy and menopause can be the culprit behind an outbreak.
Cystic acne gets the red, irritated appearance because it becomes infected with bacteria. This bacteria often erupts the hair follicle and goes below the pore, allowing a cyst to develop from the infection.
These cysts are often hard and no attempt at squeezing the cyst should be made because this type of acne causes the most skin damage and should be treated at the first sign of an outbreak.
Since teens are especially susceptible to cystic acne, fast treatment should be done in order to minimize the social embarrassment they might feel. Some treatments can be done at home to take care of the skin in a mild outbreak.
You should practice a good skincare routine. Use a cleanser that’s suitable for treating acne and make sure you exfoliate your skin. Don’t use products that can stop up your pores.
These products could include certain types of makeup, lotions that are thick – and in the summertime, choose a sunscreen that’s for people who tend to have acne outbreaks, not the greasy ones.
Treatment can also include taking antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. Some antibiotics are oral – such as amoxicillin or doxycycline. Topical antibiotics often prescribed are Retin-A or other topical products that have salicylic acid.
You may be given a steroid shot. For women, if the outbreak is caused by hormonal changes, the use of oral contraceptives can help restore balance and treat the outbreak. Though the prescribed drug Accutane can be prescribed for cystic acne, this highly effective treatment has some serious side effects associated with the usage. A dermatologist can treat cases of cystic acne with photodynamic therapy (PDT) or other skin resurfacing measures.
Adult Acne Causes and Cures
You would think after surviving high school and becoming an adult that you wouldn’t have to worry about your skin breaking out with acne. But adults get acne, too – and dealing with acne as an adult can be irritating and at times just as socially awkward as it is for a teenager.
There are many different adult acne causes. As with all cases of acne, sebum production can be a problem. Too much and the follicles of the skin get clogged, leading to an outbreak of acne.
Whatever clogs your follicles can cause acne to develop. If you wash your hair, add a hair product and then your hair is constantly on your forehead or on the sides of your face, then the oil from the product can work to clog your follicles.
Your routine beauty care can cause adult acne. Removing unwanted body or facial hair can trigger the release of bacteria that’s present on the skin and allow the bacteria to enter the follicle.
In fact, bacteria is one of the most notable causes of acne. You can get the bacteria that cause acne from pressing your cell phone against your face. For female adults, hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause can cause acne to break out.
The medications you take, both over the counter and prescriptions can contain ingredients that bring on acne. Using certain beauty products can also cause it. Genetics can also play a part in causing acne.
Though people think that stress can cause acne, it doesn’t. What stress can do, however, is make acne worse. But you don’t have to put up with the frustrating or embarrassing outbreaks of acne. There are some cures that can clear your skin right up.
If your acne is caused by the production of too much sebum, you can use an over the counter medication that cuts down the oil, which will then clear up the acne. You may need to see your doctor and get a prescription medication if your skin is infected and over the counter medications aren’t getting rid of the acne in a timely manner.
You may need an antibiotic. Birth control pills can also be used to treat acne. Or, there are alternative treatments that can be used to treat acne. Some of these methods include foods that contain natural acids called alpha hydroxy acid.
Rather than eating them, these foods are applied to the area with the acne. Fruits like oranges, grapefruit, and lemons contain this acid. Taking zinc can also help clear up an acne outbreak and some oils can be used to treat acne. To get rid of acne faster – or for difficult cases, some people choose to use laser treatment.