ALL ABOUT ACNE:
TYPES OF ACNE AND THEIR TREATMENTS
Acne has been a common problem for teenagers and young adults since ancient times. Throughout history, remedies and treatments to cure this skin condition have been tried, sworn by or discarded. Today, Witlof Skincare answers the top questions on what exactly acne is and how to treat it.
WHAT IS ACNE?
Before we can answer the more intricate questions, having a firm understanding of what acne is is imperative. Acne is the result of the tiny hair follicles on your face becoming clogged. There are many types of acne:
- Blackheads: these occur when the pores are filled with dead skin cells and excess oil. The dark, dirt-like colour of the spot is due to lighting and the darkening of the hair follicle. It is not dirt!
- Whiteheads: although their name is similar to blackheads, they are not the same! This ocurs when the dead skin cells and oil form a closed white bump. They may be hard to squeeze or empty.
- Papules: these are red, sensitive bumps on the skin, that can hurt when touched.
- Pustules: this is what you think of when someone says 'acne'. They have the redness and sensitivity of the papule, but with a small white bump in the centre - this is the build-up of pus.
- Nodules: these appear as red bumps on the skin, but are more below the surface. These can feel like hard bumps or knots.
- Cysts: these are similar to nodules, where they will appear as a round lump, filled with pus.
WHAT CAUSES ACNE?
Acne can be caused by so many things! The most common reasons have to do with hygiene; touching the face with unwashed hands, a dirty phone screen when making a call, or using pillow cases that are not washed frequently can all clog the pores. The external environment you live in can also impact your skin. Air pollution or dirty living spaces will obviously harm your skin more than a fresh, clean environment.
The skincare products you use can also damage your skin if they contain certain ingredients! Scroll below to the 'Skincare and Acne' section to find out this extremely important and impactful reason.
Acne can also be a visual indicator of an internal body problems, such as a bad diet, irregular or lack of sleep, or hormone imbalances. Acne is also a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in females. If you are unsure about the cause of your acne, or feel it could be an indicator of something potentially dangerous, do not be afraid to consult a medical professional. Your health is incredibly important!
WHICH SKIN TYPE HAS ACNE?
Although all skin types can experience acne, especially with the external factors listed above, oily skin is most acne-prone. This is because excess oil created by the skin can naturally clog pores, leading to build-up in the follicle and thus acne.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SKIN PURGING AND ACNE
Skin purging occurs when any unwanted substances in your skin are pushed out and to the surface, causing red bumps or pustules. These can be sensitive or hurt to touch. Of course, this looks like acne, however the difference is drastic!
Skin purging is good as it is pushing anything bad out of your skin, in comparison to acne, which occurs because of the bad substances. Skin purging also does not leave any acne scarring or marks on your skin. If you would like to learn how to purge your skin of any impurities, read our blog on the Skin Detox.
WHY IS THE FACE MORE ACNE-PRONE THAN OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY?
The answer to this question is very simple: different areas of the body are covered by different types of skin. The skin on your face and neck is more sensitive to the skin on your hands, for example. Face skin has the most sebaceous glands, which means it produces the most sebum (oil).
The National Institute of Health proposes that the increased amount of oil glands on the face means that the face is prone to less friction, which can damage the skin, and is also more moisturised. It is a mechanism to protect your more sensitive skin. Well why is the face more sensitive than the rest of the body? This is because the face renews its cells more frequently - likely due to evolution.
Acne can occur on other parts of the body, though. More than half of people prone to acne have acne also on their backs, with 15% having acne also on their chest.
IS ACNE A SIGN OF SKIN DISEASE OR CANCER?
Acne itself is a disorder of the skin, however most acne will not be a sign of disease or skin cancer. However, some skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) can show up as a spot or acne scarring, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. We always encourage you to seek professional medical help if you feel your skin condition may be more serious than it seems.
SKINCARE AND ACNE
CAN TOO MUCH SKINCARE CAUSE ACNE?
This is a more complicated question, depending on the frequency of use, the amount of products in your routine, the type of products you use and how they're made:
- Frequency of use: over-using your products can have adverse effects. Washing your face multiple times a day can dry out and irritate your skin, destroying the natural oils your skin needs. On the flip side, using too much product to 'compensate' for dry skin can clog your pores. Remember, everything in moderation.
- Too many different products: although incredibly popular, 10-step or 15-step skincare routines don't actually do much. A simple routine with three to six products can be much more effective, as it clogs your pores less and gives your skin much less to absorb or deal with all at once.
- Type of products: using a very harsh exfoliator can damage your skin, stripping away the natural oils you need. Be sure that the intensity of the products you use is right for you.
- How they're made: the ingredients of your skincare can be so harmful! Artificial ingredients such as silicone bases are very common in products, which can clog your pores and thus cause acne. They are completely unnecessary! Moreover, mineral oils, which sound like they're good to your skin, are very unnatural, and can get your skin addicted and dependant on what you're applying. These are the two things you should look out for the most. Of course, also be aware of any skin allergies or ingredients that may irritate your skin, which might not impact others.
Although all of these factors are important, how your products are made is the most important reason! If you want more information on what you're putting on your skin, read our blog on this exact topic.
Our products are 100% vegan, natural and cruelty-free. We therefore do not use any artificial and unnecessary ingredients at all! See our page specifically tailored to acne-prone skin to find out which products may be good for you.
IS IT GOOD TO USE MOISTURISER ON ACNE-PRONE SKIN?
If your skin needs it, then yes! You should make sure your skin is relaxed - leaving your skin too tight or dry will worsen your acne. Contrastingly, if your skin does not need moisturiser in its normal condition, you should not over-moisturise.
VITAMIN C AND RETINOL ON ACNE-PRONE SKIN
In short - vitamin C will not directly impact acne, whereas retinol can help fight against it. If you would like to know more about what vitamin C and retinol individually do to the skin, read our extensive blogs on both topics.
A DISCUSSION ON TREATMENTS
ARE ACNE TREATMENT IS SAFE TO USE DURING PREGNANCY?
When you are expecting, it is important you do as much as you can to ensure the health of your baby. This is why you should be very careful with what you put on your skin whilst pregnant. The Mayo Clinic states that you should avoid using strong acne treatments and retinoids as they have been proven to contribute to some birth defects. Our blog specifically on pregnancy skin can help you navigate your skin's problems.
WHICH ACNE TREATMENT IS BEST?
This question is incredibly specific, and relates to the reason your acne occurs. Read below to find the different ways you can treat your acne - if the first methods don't work, don't be discouraged! These fixes go from surface-level and basic to more intense!
It is a generally good idea to keep your face clean by washing your hands regularly (or not touching your face when they aren't), frequently cleaning your phone screen and changing your pillowcases.
Going a step further, having a consistent sleep schedule, sleeping at regular times and for eight hours, helps your body heal itself.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet and doing regular exercise can also solve many health issues, including acne. Exercise can help level out hormones, regulating sugar levels and reducing stress. However, don't go overboard on cardio! Reversely, intense levels of cardio can also make the body produce more cortisol, the stress hormone. This can make your skin more sensitive and cause breakouts. Moreover, excessive sweat can contribute to the build-up of dirt. It is always important to wash your face after exercising.
If this does not work, take a look at the products you're using. Are they artificial, or contain ingredients your skin personally doesn't like? Or maybe you're using too many or too strong products? Review your routine and understand what exactly you're using on your skin.
If these methods don't work, then we recommend seeing a professional. Doctors can prescribe topical creams or oral medication which you can't obtain without a prescription, that tackle more serious forms of acne or bacterial infections. A dermatologist can also take a look at your skin and give specialised advice, which can be much more helpful. Do not neglect your health!
Our Witlof Skincare skin expert Caroline can inform you of which products are suited to your skin type. Receive a free online skin consultation.
Blog written, researched and edited by Megan Campbell.