Give Acne a Break

Many of us will have had problems with acne before to varying extents at different stages of our life. It is never pretty and can be a nuisance for us as it itches, can lower our self-esteem and it looks unhealthy. But how can we reduce it? Acne can arise from many different factors and there is no single way to treat it that works for everyone. However, I wrote this article to give you some suggestions that may help you.

What is acne?

Acne comes from a blockage of follicles which are small clusters producing hair in the skin. Attached to the follicles are the sebaceous glands which produce sebum, a fatty waxy substance helping to wax the hair. It is believed to be an evolutionary remnant, as our ancestors had much more hair which had to be protected from water. The sebaceous glands can also be enlarged due to increased androgen production (hormones). These glands can then become clogged with sebum and dead skin cells. In these conditions, the naturally occurring bacterium Propionibacterium acnes can cause inflammation, leading to inflammatory lesions, i.e. acne.

Stress can worsen acne

Stress can worsen acne. Certain hormones like glucocorticoids and adrenal androgens are released during stress. These are known to cause breakouts by activating the oil gland and clogging your pores.

Acne can be genetic

Some of us have more of a genetic predisposition to acne than others. This is something we simply have to life with, but it does not mean that horrible acne and skin lesions are normal for some of us.

Diet

Diet plays a huge role and your skin is on one of the first indicators of your diet. A high glycemic load in your diet is associated with worsening acne, i.e. a high content of carbohydrates. There is no evidence of foods high in salt or chocolate causing acne, but often food high in salt or cocoa also has a high glycemic index. Futhermore, there is a relation between the consumption of animal milk with the severity of acne.

Hormonal dependency

Acne is strongly linked to hormonal changes, such as puberty and menstrual cycles. During puberty, especially young men are affected, as the increased production of male sex hormones causes clogging of the sebaceous glands leading to acne.

Liver problems

Acne can also be a sign of malnutrition or problems with your digestive system. In particular, if the interplay of liver, gall-bladder and intestine is impaired, you may experience an increased severity of acne.

How can I reduce acne?

There is no single treatment of acne and it very much depends on the exact cause of the skin disorder in individual cases. However, there are a few measures you can take to reduce or cure acne.

  • Exercise: exercise increases blood flow and thus brings nutrients and oxygen to your skin whilst removing waste products. Aerobic exercise has the best effect.
  • Hygiene: although acne is not caused by the lack of hygiene, a proper routine can help reduce acne. Make sure you wash your face and affected areas properly. There are many different ways, but a slight dermal abrasion using special cloths or beauty products can help.
  • Reduce your glycemic load, i.e. eat fewer carbohydrates, in particular just before bed. During the night blood flow is decreased, and thus waste products are not transported away from your skins as efficiently as during the day.
  • Medication: consult your doctor for medication as it might be necessary to treat more severe forms of acne.
  • There are a few natural remedies that can reduce acne in some cases: Aloe vera and tea tree oil.
  • Reduce your stress levels.

I hope you found this information useful. Please let us know if you struggle with acne and we might be able to suggest ways for you to tackle the problem. Please consult your doctor if you have severe issues with acne.

Image reproduced from http://www.traitement-acne.net

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About Sebastian Müller

Sebastian Müller was born and raised in Leipzig/Germany and moved to England as an adolescent. He is a trained research chemist and geneticist and is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institut Curie in Paris/ France working in cancer research. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and is still actively involved at the university today. He is fluent in English, German and French and has many fortés and interests including science, philosophy, linguistics, history, competitive sports such as rowing, fitness and nutrition. He is a freelance writer also drawing from his experience as an author in peer-reviewed scientific journals. "I love writing and putting my thoughts down on paper. The written word to me is one of the most powerful ways of conveying thoughts and initiating discussions."
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One Response to Give Acne a Break

  1. Yann says:

    I just stumbled on this and actually loved reading this article. The advice was very informative.