Acne is an extremely common skin condition that appears on the face, chest, back or shoulders and is caused by an overproduction of sebum in these areas. Bacteria, called P. Acnes, spreads itself within the sebum and causes inflammation. Acne commonly shows up during puberty when the androgens (sex hormones) start to appear. They then stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce an excess of sebum. Acne can also occur later in life due to factors such as hormonal imbalances.
Excess sebum combined with inadequate exfoliation of old skin cells is what causes blockages within your follicles and leads to blackheads. Very oily skin also tends to have an excess of bacteria that can cause inflammation within the blocked follicles, which leads to pimples. These types of inflammation can be much deeper which can lead to cysts.
There are times that acne is bad enough to require medical treatment in order to control the situation and reduce the risk of scarring. Furthermore, medicinal treatment such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics also run the risk of causing sun sensitivity in your skin.
Having a proper skin care routine can help the skin to maintain balance, soothe inflammation, strengthen the skins’ barrier and protect against scarring. By controlling sebum production, increasing cell renewal, fighting bacterial infections and reducing inflammation you are well on your way to reducing symptoms that can cause new breakouts, without drying your skin.
Be sure to avoid squeezing your spots whenever possible, as doing so can cause the acne bacteria to spread and cause more breakouts. Inflamed, acne prone skin scars more easily or goes through pigment changes after you have squeezed the spot. UV light can stimulate inflammation in the skin which causes further outbreaks so be sure to use UV protection on a daily basis. Avoid hard scrubs that can spread acne bacteria around your face instead of cleansing it correctly, which accelerates the inflammation. A better alternative are acids that gently exfoliate from deep within. If you find yourself suffering with inflamed acne then it is recommended that you complement this with soothing products and be sure to thoroughly moisturise afterwards.
Ingredients to look out for
- BHA (salicylic acid) has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is fat soluble, meaning it is well suited for more oily skin with blocked pores. It has the ability to exfoliate deep within the pores which dissolves the blockage because if this is left untreated, it would lead to inflammation of the skin.
- Niacinamide (vitamin B3) reduces the skins’ inflammation risk, inhibits the acne bacteria p. acnes and helps reduce scarring and discolouration.
- Antioxidants help protect the skins’ cells against free radicals and prevents inflammation and redness.
- Mandelic acid is an AHA acid which is known for its antibacterial properties as well as its exfoliating effect.
- Azelaic acid is an antibacterial antioxidant that soothes irritations in the skin and helps to control sebum production.
- Retinol is a more mild form of the prescription vitamin A medication tretinoin. In most cases it can be tolerated by even the most sensitive skin types. It works to control sebum production and repairs the skin.