Interesting Facts About Acne
Acne attacks are pretty common, approximately 85% of women and 70% of men today will at some point suffer from a breakout episode. It is actually one of the most common skin conditions globally affecting people from different racial and geographical backgrounds. Between 40 and 50 million people are currently battling zits and pimples in the US alone. And although the primary cause of acne is not yet clearly known, there are certain triggers that are associated with the increased likelihood of suffering from a breakout episode. Here are some interesting facts about acne that you should be aware of to improve your chances of sporting a clear and healthy-looking complexion all year round.
5 Interesting Facts About Acne
Here are some fast facts about acne that you ought to know.
1. Hereditary Disease
While there isn't exactly a specific gene mutation that can be tied back to acne breakouts, researchers have observed a pattern of acne tending to run in families. And this can only be explained by the existence of specific gene mutations that increase one's propensity and tendency to develop zits and blackheads. Well, of course, this is not also overlooking that there are many more factors that influence one's likelihood of getting acne, including the immune system's reaction to colonisation by acne-related bacteria.
That aside, it is also important to put into consideration that some families tend to have a hereditary predisposition of overproducing dead skin cells. This increases the probability of the members of such a family having many clogged pores, which, as a result, can end up causing acne. The same can be said about the familial or genealogical tendency to produce excess acne, something that can also contribute immensely to frequent breakouts.
What's more, some types of acne tend to be largely hormonal. And this means that you can be more genetically predisposed to overproducing androgens. The bottom line? Acne might not be a strictly hereditary disease, but there is no denying that there are certain aspects of its onset and progression that are influenced by one's genetic makeup.
2. Foods with a High Glycemic Index and Dairy can Provoke Acne
Eating a balanced diet is really key to avoiding occasional breakouts. And sometimes, this may mean excluding foods with a high glycemic index (such as simple carbohydrates, sodas, sugared fruit juices etc) from your diet.
You see, high glycemic-load foods increase the levels of IGF-1 insulin in the bloodstream. In fact, IGF-1 is a special type of insulin that the body produces in a bid to rein in the sudden sugar rush when you consume foods with a high glycemic index. It is apparently known to stimulate the fluctuation of androgen levels. The hormonal spike consequently leads to pimples, zits and pustules especially in people with characteristic oily skin.
Dairy, on the other hand, especially skim-milk and low-fat dairy, should be avoided if you desire a beautiful complexion. The explanation for this is that milk harbours bovine IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) that again can increase the production of androgen hormones and trigger acne flare ups.
The bottom line is that it is important to cut back on foods that tend to spike your blood sugar levels if you are trying to get a hand on a runaway acne breakout. This means that there should be less refined carbohydrates - such as crackers, pasta, cookies, sodas and white bread - in your diet. Instead, replace these ones with power carbs - a version of carbohydrates that contains a dose of protein and plenty of fiber. Excellent food choices include arrow roots, sweet potatoes, beans, yams, cassavas and lentils.
Eating anti-inflammatory foods including loads of phytonutrients has also proven to be quite beneficial in bringing occasional flare-ups under control. What's more, phytonutrients improve intercellular communication, detoxifies carcinogens and repairs DNA damage that could have been sustained from exposure to pollutants. All this will then combine to a smooth, problem-free and handsome complexion.
3. The Causes of Acne Can be Completely Unexpected
As put at the onset of this article, there isn't one isolated factor that can be said to the sole cause of acne. It's a skin condition that requires a conglomerate of several different pre-existing causes that come together to eventually precipitate a flare up. Acne, for instance, occurs when oil - also known as sebaceous - glands that are typically attached to the follicles are infested with acne-causing bacteria which later paves way to inflammation that manifests itself as pustules.
The factor or elements that contribute to the pimples vary widely from one individual to another. What could easily cause a flare up in one person is not exactly guaranteed to be the reason behind bad skin in another. And at times, the causes of acne can be completely unrelated.
Having said that, here are some of the elements that can provoke an acne-breakout.
- Food - It's no secret there are some acne-aggravating foods which when eaten without moderation can increase one's probability of breaking out occasionally. The trick here, however, is to aim at eating a balanced and nutritious diet with as little simple carbs and low-fat dairy products as possible.
- Dirt and grime - While sweat does not cause acne, since blackheads are usually oxidized oil and not grime, poor skin hygiene can also increase your likelihood of struggling with bad skin. On the other hand, however, it is a well-recognized fact that excessive washing and scrubbing can irritate the skin to the extent of developing painful pustules and papules. The secret here appears to be striking a balance between the two, something that makes acne such a difficult condition to get a hand on.
- Stress - Stress, particularly high amounts of chronic emotional turmoil, has been observed to cause acne episodes in people with sensitive skin. And this can be tied back to the fact that emotional stress can trigger excessive amounts of cortisol - a flight or fight hormone. Elevated levels of cortisol interferes with the body's finely-tuned homeostatic balance thereby paving a way to repeated acne attacks. And this is why it is advisable to exercise stress-relieving habits such as daily meditation and working out occasionally.
- Physical trauma- In some patients, physical trauma through pressure exerted by helmets, collars, chin straps, suspenders and the likes has been observed to aggravate breakout episodes.
- Drugs - Some OTC medications and prescriptions can worsen or cause acne, a good example is drugs that contain iodides, steroids, bromides and the likes. Another type of medication that has been recently observed to trigger acne breakouts is anticonvulsant drugs such as the ones that contain trace-amounts of lithium.
- Cosmetics - Using comedogenic - pore clogging - beauty products will most likely result in an acne episode sooner rather than later. And that's why dermatologists advise their clients to pay close attention to the list of ingredients used in the formulation of their skin care brand of choice. Prioritize products that have water-based ingredients if your skin is prone to breakouts and pimples.
4. Acne Develops Differently in Adult Women Compared to Adolescents
There's no doubt that acne is a skin condition that is predominantly associated with adolescents and budding teenagers. Nevertheless, both casual observation and research now indicates that there's a prevalence of both young and older adults battling various levels of acne. But make no mistake there is a very big difference between acne in teenagers going through puberty and the flare ups that adults, especially women have to combat occasionally.
For starters, while hormonal fluctuations are the major cause of pits and zits in teenagers, adult onset acne is majorly tied to emotional and physical stress. Menstrual cycles or pregnancy, for instance, is responsible for the sharp hormonal imbalance in adult women while teenagers have undulating androgens levels to blame for their skin woes. While both of them may eventually lead to flare ups, the manner and severity that each of them happens is completely different and unrelated.
Secondly, sometimes repeated and unrelenting acne flare ups in adult women could point to the existence of serious underlying conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which is a common culprit. This is a medication where testosterone levels in women tend to rise dramatically and sporadically thereby worsening acne as well as causing irregular menstrual cycles and hirsutism. Which, of course, explains why it is important to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist should you start experiencing such symptoms paired with a worsening case of acne.
Thirdly, acne affects adult women differently in direct comparison to teenagers and adolescents. You see, adult skin is less regenerative than that of teenagers who are at the prime of their growth spurt. This implies that acne healing is harder and takes a longer time in adult women than in adolescents, and the same also applies to the scars left behind by a debilitating acne episode.
5. The Approach to Acne Treatment Should be Multifaceted
Considering how hard it is to pinpoint one specific cause or factor than be solely attributed to be the reason behind acne breakouts, it goes without saying then that the treatment approach should be multifaceted too.
Speaking of which, here are a few examples of zits medications and treatment protocols that your dermatologist can choose to pursue to rein in your breakouts.
- Benzoyl Peroxide: Products that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, such as AENO Acne Patch, have proven to be quite effective in stopping the progression of acne in its tracks. Benzoyl peroxide, in particular, acts as an antimicrobial that inhibits the activity of bacteria that causes acne such as Staphylococcus epidermidis and Cutibacterium acnes.
- Azelaic Acid: Just like benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid is believed to be instrumental in killing acne-causing microorganisms. Derived from whole grain cereals such as rye and barley, It's mostly prescribed as a foam, gel or cream to individuals who are sensitive to acne-treatment products that contain benzoyl peroxide.
- Hormonal Therapies: As mentioned above, hormonal fluctuations are among the leading causes of acne breakouts in adult and post adolescent women. Which, as you would expect, is the reason hormonal therapy is recommended for the treatment of stubborn, unrelenting and persistent acne episodes that defy conventional remedies. Speaking of which, the most common acne-targeting hormonal therapies are spironolactone and administration of birth control pills.
- Topical Retinoids: Topical retinoids such as adapalene, tazarotene, tretinoin have proven to be quite reliable acne showstoppers. The active ingredients, which are available in the form of lotions, gels and creams, work by enabling a progressive yet consistent shedding of old and dead skin cells faster. Consequently, this allows easy regeneration of new skin cells while also lessening the chances of suffering clogged pores that could later precipitate to an acne episode. What's more, retinoids are also quite effective in evening out one's skin tone and smoothening minor wrinkles or fine lines.
- Topical Antibiotics: They include erythromycin and clindamycin, both of which have demonstrated their ability to slow down the activity of a majority of acne-causing bacteria. These antibiotics are typically combined with a host of other topical products such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.
The Bottom Line
We all face different risk factors and elements that could aggravate acne, depending on our genetics, dietary routine, occupation, gender and age. While adults, particularly women are likely to get acne due to hormonal fluctuations during menstruation and pregnancy, teens are more likely to suffer from acne as a result of genetics, spiking androgen levels and diet. Either way, the treatment and control of acne has to revolve around observing a strict balanced diet, low emotional stress levels, proper skin hygiene and a specialized form of dermatological handling from a board-certified expert.