The misconception that acne is caused by eating too much chocolate is still around today and it does somehow make the condition seem as though it has been caused by poor lifestyle choices. But ‘self-inflicted acne’ couldn't be further from the truth. While lifestyle may have an effect on your skin and cause the occasional breakout, severe adult acne is caused by hormonal imbalances. While this is most commonly visible through blackheads, whiteheads and inflamed skin, in extreme cases, small cysts can form below the skin and leave scars. Beauty is more than skin deep but acne is an embarrassing condition that can leave you feeling insecure about your appearance. With more than 85% of people experiencing acne at some point in their lives, it’s surprising to find that it’s still a condition that many people tend to suffer in silence with.
Why do we get spots?
Acne is caused when your skin produces too much natural oil (sebum). This usually travels up the tiny hair follicles in your skin through your pores, however, if your body produces too much sebum, it can easily block your pores and trap dead skin cells within them which results in a black or white head.
Just on the surface of your skin, the natural bacterium Propionibacterium Acnes can be found and for some people, this causes your hair follicles to become slightly inflamed. This will cause the other type of spots, which are red or yellow and may lead to small cysts. In very severe acne cases, these smaller cysts can connect and create much larger lesions.
What treatment options are there?
There are a range of different treatment options available for acne depending on what type you have so the best thing you can do is speak to your GP to help identify the skin problem you are suffering from and they will also give you further guidance on the best course of action. Below are some of the most common types of treatment. There are three ways in which treatment should help your skin
- It should stop new spots from forming
- It should reduce inflammation of the current spots you already have
- It should help minimise scarring
For people who are suffering mild to moderate symptoms of acne, it’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe a deep pore cleanser such as Benzoyl Peroxide which helps stop pores from becoming so clogged. This is usually paired with a topical antibiotic to help eliminate the bacteria that sits on the skin. This has long been an effective treatment for acne, however, not all types of skin react to it in the same way, and in some cases, this has little or no effect at all.
For some women, over the counter and doctor prescribed topical treatments might not work, so there is an option to be put on a type of oral contraceptive (aka the pill) to help balance your hormones in particular the male testosterone hormones that encourage the production of sebum.
Tria Beauty’s Skin Perfecting Blue Light therapy - a handheld device that you use daily to help fight the acne-causing bacteria – can help. It uses blue light technology to penetrate deep within the skin to help kill the bacteria. When the bacteria are eliminated, it releases oxygen, which is just what your skin needs to stay healthy and unclogged.
For some severe cases, oral Retinoids may be prescribed. This involves an initial blood test to check your cholesterol levels before treatment begins. This is however, often seen as a last resort because the medicine can have unpleasant side effects including, dry skin, achy joints and in some cases, even depression. These will only be prescribed with a months worth of medication and the effectiveness will be regularly monitored by your GP.
With a number of acne treatments available, the right one is out there for you so don’t suffer in silence. The first step is to talk to a medical professional to understand what’s causing your acne, and then you’re well on your way to healthier looking skin!
Roxanne Goddard is a beauty blogger who loves to review and recommend her favourite beauty and skin care products.