What causes acne?
Acne is brought on by a number of causes. These can include an excess of dead skin thata clogs pores, excessive oil production, and trapped bacteria, which leads to infection and inflammation. Genetics may also contribute to the risk for developing acne.
Other factors have been found to make acne worse. An in crease in hormones in the bloodstream tends to create an excess in sebum production. Certain medications such as corticosteroids and lithium have been known to affect acne development. Diet has long been suspected of making acne worse; chocolate, refined carbohydrates and in some cases dairy, have been implicated. Excessive amounts of sugar create system-wide inflammation. Excess sun exposure can make acne worse by increasing the amount of sweat on the skin. Finally, stress can trigger an acne flare-up.
Gentle cleansing is effective in removing excess oil and sweat from the skin. You can use cleansing oils, if they are formulated to be light and mildly astrigent, as well.
Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are well-known treatments for acne flareups. Oil-free moisturizers and toners that restore the skin’s acid mantle can help to prevent further breakouts.
Never squeeze blemishes. This can cause any underlying infection to spread, and it can lead to scarring.
Natural Acne Remedies
If you are searching for natural acne remedies, tea tree gels consisting of a 5% concentration of tea tree oil can be as effective as a 5% benzoyl peroxide solution. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is distilled from a tree native to Australia. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties and it is astrigent, which can help dry up blemishes. In fact, it should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet. If the essential oil is too drying when applied directly to skin, it can be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba or grapeseed oil.
Lotions and creams containing alpha hydroxy acids can help the skin shed dead cells, thereby minimizing clogged pores. Azelaic acid, found in whole grain cereals, contains anti-bacterial properties. A 20% solution has been found to be effective. An example is Aziderm cream, available online. Creams containing zinc can help to reduce breakouts, and aloe vera gels (50%) can help soothe inflammation. An example is Ole Henriksen’s Vitamin Plus Mattifying Cream, available at Sephora and online.
Eating more omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, purslane, and fish oil supplements) can contribute to lower levels of inflammation throughout the body. Maintaining recommended levels of Vitamins A and E, as well as eating antioxidant-rich foods like colorful (organic) vegetables and berries, help the skin to heal and reduces oxidative stress to the skin. Vitamin E capsules can be opened and applied directly to skin, as well.
What’s important to remember is that acne is a common ailment, even in adulthood, but there are many things that you can do to help minimize its effects. You may wish to experiment until you find the remedies that work best for you.