When acne strikes, it can throw a wrench in your life. You may feel less confident in public, struggle to focus at work, and/or become irritable during the day. While there are many ways to treat acne, preventing these outbreaks in the first place can save you time and money, and boost your self-esteem. But in order to stop acne flare ups, you need to know what causes acne in the first place.
Acne occurs when the pores of one's skin get clogged by oil and/or dead skin cells. Broadly speaking, both genetic and environmental factors play a role in causing acne outbreaks. Some people go their whole lives without a serious pimple while others suffer from severe acne throughout adolescence and beyond. If your DNA has granted you acne prone skin, many things can aggravate this skin condition. Let’s go over some of the most common triggers for acne breakouts so you can take more control over your skin’s health.
They say you are what you eat, and while acne is not on anyone’s menu, certain foods and food groups have been linked to acne outbreaks. Carb-heavy food like bread and pasta can bring about and exacerbate acne, as well as dairy products and chocolate. Researchers are still trying to figure out how and why diet and acne are related. And, of course, people are unique, so not everyone will react the same way to a given food item. Therefore, it’s best to keep tabs on your diet and look out for foods you think may be leading to acne flare ups.
Since acne is a skin condition, taking good care of your skin can help reduce the frequency and severity of acne outbreaks. Consider using a cleanser and warm (not hot) water for your skin and apply it in the morning and at night. Don’t scrub your face too hard, though, as this can irritate your skin and trigger a breakout. Products containing benzoyl peroxide can be useful against acne, too, reducing excess oil. And, as a general rule, don’t expose your skin to the sun for too long. Speak with a dermatologist to find the right products and regimen for your unique skin.
Acne affects the skin, but the reasons for acne outbreaks sometimes lie deeper than that. Teenagers and pregnant women often experience more acne than children and non-pregnant adults due to all the hormonal activity occurring in their bodies. More specifically, puberty signals an increase in hormones called androgens which enlarge the body’s sebaceous glands (those that produce sebum, or oil).
Certain medications can also trigger an acne outbreak by shifting hormone levels or increasing stress in the body. Medications associated with acne flare ups include corticosteroids, androgenic steroids, barbiturates, lithium, anticonvulsants, and more.
We may think of stress as a purely mental issue, but stress can also have physical implications. When you’re worried about finances, grades, relationships, or anything else, acne may follow. Scientists and doctors don’t fully understand the correlation between stress and acne as of yet, but they believe it may have something to do with increased sebum production. Whether or not that’s true, stress can at least cause you to fall out of your skincare routine, lose sleep, eat more or eat less, or pick at your skin, aggravating the acne you already have. Try to determine what stresses you out, and find ways to cope with that stress, such as meditation, exercise, or enjoying a hobby.
With so many potential triggers for acne outbreaks, it’s no wonder acne remains the most common skin condition out there. The more you know about your own skin and lifestyle, the better you can protect your skin from future flare ups. The professionals at Southeast Dermatology Specialists can help you find the right solutions for your skin. Whether you’re seeking acne treatment or ways to prevent outbreaks, we’re here to help. Contact us to learn more about our services and providers.