In my last blog post I shared with you just what PRIIA Cosmetics is all about. It was my goal to give you a better understanding just why this mineral makeup line is going to be different from the rest and why it's the perfect solution for those with problematic skin types. In today's blog post, I am going to give you a well-rounded view of what acne is (despite what you may have heard), how blemishes form and 5 things you can do today to start getting your breakouts (no matter how big or small) under control.
First of all, let me tell what acne ISN'T. There is sooooo much misinformation about this condition that it's high time someone set the record straight! Acne is NOT related to:
- Eating too much chocolate or greasy foods
- Sex (or lack of it!)
- Not just a teenage problem
- Hair hanging down on the face (unless there are comedogenic/acnegenic oils on the hair)
Ok, now that I've busted a few myths about acne it's time to explain exactly what's going on with your skin when you see those little black dots on your nose or when you feel that painful lump arising from your chin area. Acne is a SERIOUS genetic disease that affects millions and typically begins with the onset of puberty and is a dominant characteristic that most people have at some time in their life. Acne is NOT simply a right of passage for teens although it is estimated that over 85% of teens suffer with this disease. Many adults, especially women, will manifest symptoms of acne througout adulthood.
Aggravating factors such as stress, pore-clogging & irritating cosmetics, certain chemicals, drugs and hormones often stimulate occurrences of acne breakouts. Acne is a condition in the hair follicle called RETENTION HYPERKERATOSIS. This condition causes over production of the skin cells that line the hair follicle. As a result the body cannot shed the cells fast enough to prevent impaction. These resulting cell impactions, coupled with hormonal changes (an increase in dihydrotestosterone a.k.a. DHT), stimulate increased production of SEBUM (facial oil) from nearby glands.
The naturally occuring oil the skin produces causes the cells to 'gum up' forming a tiny hard seed-like impaction in the follicle called a MICRO COMEDO. Bacteria known as P.Acnes begins to thrive in the anaerobic (without oxygen) environment. They feed off the fatty acids that make up the hardened sebum plug and multiply rapidly. Basically, the micro comedos are mini ticking time bombs that seem to rear their ugly heads at the worst possible moments (picture time anyone???). As this little bacteria-laden seed grows, it eventually turns into a COMEDO and can opt for 1 of 2 paths. Did you know that it actually takes about 90 days for this process to happen? Yup- that's right. So, the blemish on your chin today actually began to form about 3 months ago. That should put to rest the myth that eating a piece of chocolate now results in a zit tomorrow.
Acne can be NON-INFLAMATORY or INFLAMATORY. Non-inflamatory acne is categorized as white heads (closed comedones) or black heads (open comedones). Inflamatory acne is categorized by having red, raised lesions known as papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. Believe it or not, it's actually the non-inflamatory acne that's the hardest to treat and get under control. However, it's the cystic acne that can actually be disfiguring to a person's face and/or body.
There are Five grades of acne:
- Grade 1- blackheads
- Grade 2- many blackheads and whiteheads
- Grade 3- all of the above plus papules and pustules
- Grade 4- all of the above plus cysts and nodules
- Grade 5- Acne necrotica (very disfiguring often warranting plastic surgery)
Even though acne cannot be cured, it can be controlled. It's always best to consult with your doctor and/or a qualified licensed skin care professional (esthetician) to help you determine the best course of treatment for your skin.
In the meantime, if you're experiencing any type of acne breakout let me leave you with 5 things you can do today to keep your acne from getting worse.
- Stop picking your zits and start applying ice instead. Ice helps inflamed lesions from getting worse and often can make them go away (simple cryo-therapy). First cleanse the skin, then get an ice cube (or small freezer pack) and apply to any blemishes for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stop eating peanuts, peanut butter and peanut oil. Peanuts contain a hormone that can make your acne worse. If you're a peanut butter lover, switch to unsalted almond butter- it tastes great but doesn't have the same effect as peanuts.
- Step away from the fabric softener and dryer sheets! Those soft pillow cases that you're rubbing your face on are transfering a waxy substance that's clogging your pores. Fragrance-free doesn't matter either- it's the waxy residue, not the fragrance.
- Use uniodized salt at home for cooking and flavoring your food. Iodides are a big culprit in the foods you eat and drink because they irritate the follicle walls and which leads to breakouts.
- Start taking zinc supplements. Research has indicated that the best form to take is zinc monomethionine. Take after a meal- never on an empty stomach. As always, check with your health care provider first before taking any supplements or medication.
Do you have questions about acne? Are you breaking out all the time or just occasionally? Feel free to post your comments here.