How can you get rid of acne? The first step is to understand its cause. The next step is to target that cause with topical skin care products, diet, hormone pills or medication. You might also improve your skin condition by drinking more water or changing your washcloth more often. This article includes plenty of tips to prevent acne breakouts.
Causes of Acne
Acne is a clogged pore. Therefore, depending on how you look at the problem, acne is caused by:
- a pore’s opening being blocked,
- excess production of sebum (the substance in the pores), or
- a combination of both factors.
Attack Strategies to Unblock Your Pores
Use the Right Facial Cleanser
If you already wash your face every morning and every night, you’re probably wondering why your pores are still blocked. Maybe you aren’t using the right products or methods.
Problems with Facial Cleaning Products
Ironically, some facial cleansers actually deposit a layer of skin-irritating ingredients. Mineral oil is one common ingredient to avoid. First, mineral oil is a petroleum product that many people regard as toxic. It’s not the same as mineral makeup, which is actually good for your skin. Second, mineral oil clogs pores.
Also, avoid products that contain artificial perfumes and dyes. Natural groceries are a great place to find non-irritating skincare products. If you’re choosing from conventional products, look for those labeled hypoallergenic.
Respect Your Skin Type
Be sure to use a face cleanser designed for your skin type: extra dry, dry, normal, oily or combination. If a product is too mild, you won’t remove enough oil and dirt. If the product is too strong, you’ll strip away natural oils and cause your skin to overcompensate with shininess.
Tighten Your Pores
Wash your face with warm water to open the pores. After you wash, splash your face with cold water. This will help shrink your pores and make them less able to catch debris from the environment.
Follow up with a toner to catch any remaining dirt, oil or makeup. Toner will also help to tighten your pores.
Adequate washing includes gentle sloughing to remove dead skin cells that block pore openings. Of course, do not slough broken or irritate skin. Here are several ways to remove dead skin cells:
- Use a great washcloth. Treat yourself to several washcloths with good nubbing. Use a fresh washcloth every day to avoid spreading bacteria. Avoid using fabric softener on your face cloths; fabric softener leaves a chemical film. You might also consider using all-natural laundry detergent in case chemical ingredients are irritating your skin.
- Wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Unless your skin is excessively dry, use a skin cleaning product that contains salicylic acid. Salicylic acid will help slough away dead skin that blocks your pore openings. It will also penetrate your pores to fight bacteria that cause inflammation. **Products with benzoyl peroxide will achieve the same effects. These products are more powerful but might cause excessive dryness. Be careful: Benzoyl peroxide bleaches hair and towels.
- Exfoliate. Depending on your skin’s natural turnover rate, you should exfoliate daily or several times a week. Use a gentle scrub that doesn’t irritate existing acne yet removes dead skin.
- Wear a clay mask. Treating your skin to one or two clay treatments per week will help draw out impurities while keeping the top layer of skin well-polished. Masks containing sulfur are especially effective against acne. They quickly shrink existing acne and absorb oil to prevent future breakouts.
Following the above tips should help keep your skin clear. Additionally, you might want to try the following strategies to reduce sebum production.
Attack Strategies to Fight Sebum Production
Acne Caused by Excess Sebum
Sebum is the fatty substance produced by sebaceous glands, which are tiny glands attached to hair follicles. Sebum is made of wax and fats. It has its good points such as helping our hair and skin to repel water. However, too much sebum is problematic. Sebum fills pores. Along with sebaceous fluid and bacteria, it’s what emerges when acne ruptures.
Change Your Diet
Contrary to what baby boomers were taught, specific foods such as chocolate and potato chips do not cause sebum production. Still, your overall diet can compromise or improve your skin. Scientists believe that diets high in refined carbohydrates and animal fats increase oil production. That’s because these substances increase insulin production and in turn trigger certain hormones. Diets rich in whole grains, lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables seem to be associated with clearer skin.
Nutrients That Help Fight Acne & Scarring
Here are some anti-acne nutrients and some of their natural sources.
- Selenium fights inflammation and helps keep skin elastic. Brazil nuts are a good source. You can enhance selenium’s functioning with Vitamin A from carrots, sweet potato, squash or bell peppers. Vitamin A, meanwhile, helps increase skin cell turnover.
- Omega-3 fatty acids also fight inflammation. Flaxseed, walnuts, eggs and fatty fish are rich sources.
- Zinc may help prevent acne by keeping testosterone levels even. Zinc lozenges, beans and fish are popular sources.
- Vitamin E helps skin repair itself after an acne breakout. Some natural Vitamin E sources include eggs, leafy green vegetables and almonds.
- Vitamin C strengthens cell walls. This reduces the scarring from acne. Brussel sprouts, lemons, tangerines, strawberries and raw red bell peppers are some great sources.
Women, Consider Taking Hormones
Women can quickly reduce or eliminate acne by taking birth control pills. How does that work? The Pill provides a steady dose of estrogen at a level that helps keep skin clear. Cyclical fluctuations in estrogen levels contribute to the especially notorious premenstrual acne. When estrogen is low, testosterone is suddenly in relatively higher concentration and can trigger breakouts.
Some women get acne during menopause for the same reason. Hormone replacement therapy can help eliminate breakouts.
Use Acne Medications
Mild or occasional acne outbreaks can be treated with topical over-the-counter products. Their main active ingredients are salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sulfur.
Topical Acne Medicine from the Doctor
Serious or chronic acne might require a visit to the dermatologist. A dermatologist can prescribe treatments with high concentrations of salicylic acid. More often they’ll prescribe medications that combine benzoyl peroxide with topical antibiotics. Another option is a high-dose topical treatment of Vitamin A, which increases the rate of skin cell turnover.
Oral Antibiotics for Acne
Doctors can also prescribe oral antibiotics to reduce bacteria and the production of sebum. Antibiotics are a somewhat drastic measure. For example, some doctors prescribe doxycyclin to fight acne cysts. This is the same potent medicine prescribed for anthrax inhalation. Since it kills good bacteria along with bad, patients risk developing liver problems, yeast infections and other complications.
Corticosteroid Injections for Acne
Another medical option is a corticosteroid injection. This is reserved for especially large cysts that last for weeks or more. An injection of cortisone dramatically reduces the size of the cyst almost immediately.
Additional Tips to Fight Acne
· Change your pillowcase several times per week.
· Avoid touching your face. Do not hold a telephone against your face.
· Drink plenty of water.
· Exercise to reduce stress.
· Keep your hair away from your face. If it’s long, tie it back before you sleep.
· Take a multivitamin.
· If you wear makeup, choose your products very carefully. Mineral makeup is the best option. It naturally shields skin from the sun and doesn’t clog pores.
Acne is caused by a variety of factors. Changing your wash routine or diet might prevent future breakouts. You might also try medications from the skin care aisle or your dermatologist. Finally, you might find that simply holding a phone against your face causes acne breakouts. Fighting your acne might involve some detective work but it’s a case you’ll be thrilled to solve. Trying these different things can help you learn how to get rid of acne.