Acne is something almost every single person experiences in their lives. Whether you suffer from more severe and painful cystic acne or are only plagued by the occasional pimple during puberty, it’s common.
But that doesn’t mean it’s any less destructive to our faces, and worse, our self-esteem.
Let’s walk us through the causes, prevention methods, and acne treatments.
There are a number of different causes for acne and the range is wide. The only way to know for sure is to visit a dermatologist so they can determine its cause.
That said, here are a few overall causes of acne.
This is probably the most difficult of causes to get around, because you can’t control genetics. Just like you’ve inherited your eyes, hair, and everything from your parents, acne is no different.
Genetics can play a part in these ways:
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Frequency and density of sebum (oil) production
- Rate of skin cell turnover
- Overall pore size
While frustrating, these can be prevented and treated with a proper understanding of the true cause.
We can’t discount the environmental factors to the cause of acne. Environmental factors can include anything that you interact with on a daily basis that can disrupt your skin’s natural barrier and introduce bacteria or other harmful substances to your skin.
These factors can include:
- Sun exposure
- Poor air quality (air pollution)
- Dry, harsh climate
- Diet and overall health
The best part about acne caused by environmental factors is that you have control to change these skin stressors. We’ll uncover the best methods for this in our treatments section below.
There is misinformation on proper skin care on the internet, and many people assume they understand skin when it’s skin care advice is best left to the professionals.
Here are some common ways people mistreat their skin and can inadvertently cause acne.
Over exfoliating: One of the causes of acne is actually when people exfoliate it too much, often in an attempt to reduce acne. This can make it worse. When you exfoliate too often, you strip your skin of important oils that protect it against outside factors like bacteria and free radicals. A dermatologist is best to determine the frequency and type of exfoliation that best suits your skin type.
Using too-hot water: Hot water might feel good against your skin, and you may even think it’s cleaning your skin extra, but water that’s scalding or even hot to the touch can strip your skin of those helpful, natural oils and expose it to the same bacteria and free radicals as over-exfoliation. What’s worse, is that most people who over exfoliate often use too hot of water, furthering their acne problems.
Not using moisturizer: Moisture is necessary in a healthy, functioning skin barrier. What many people suffering from acne assume is that more moisture = more acne. In fact, the opposite is true. When your skin lacks moisture, it will produce more oil to compensate in an attempt to keep your skin moisturized. This can lead to excess oil production, clogged pores, and acne.
Touching, picking, squeezing, and breaking the skin: Studies have revealed that people touch their face 23 times an hour. That’s 23 times an hour you can potentially be introducing harmful acne-causing bacteria to your skin. And that’s not taking into account how picking, squeezing, or even breaking your skin (bleeding or opening) can increase the chances of infection and acne.
Thankfully, there are ways you can combat acne with the help of a qualified dermatologist. These are the ways we recommend treating acne.
1. See a dermatologist
You can make many assumptions about the cause of your acne, but the truth is that only someone who has experience and qualifications can make an accurate prediction.
This is important because what you assume is hormonal acne could actually be caused by environmental factors that are more easily controlled. The treatments for each are different and not using the proper one can further your acne issues.
Always see a dermatologist to get a true understanding of your acne, along with a treatment plan and skincare regimen.
2. Follow a tailored treatment plan
Your skin is unique, which means your acne is unique. Seeing a dermatologist can provide you with a skincare regimen that’s best suited for your skin type and the cause of your acne.
Your dermatologist may offer solutions that include:
- A gentle face wash
- Additional medicated products
- Acids like our AHA and BHA peel pads
- Sun protection
Of course, your treatment plan will be unique to you.
3. Use sunscreen
We can never stress the importance of sun protection enough. If you’re struggling with acne but can’t seem to pinpoint the source (first, see a dermatologist), sun exposure may be the cause.
When you don’t protect your skin from the sun, it can burn, get damaged, and dry out. This causes an increase in oil production and that, paired with dry and damaged skin, can clog pores and cause acne (among other skin concerns, like fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and early signs of aging).
Therefore, always wear sunscreen daily, no matter the time of year.
4. Be gentle and do NOT pick at it
Being gentle with your skin involves using luke-warm water to wash (not hot!), not pulling or stretching the skin, not over-exfoliating (especially with harsh scrubs), and not touching, picking, or popping any existing acne.
Your skin is fragile, as is the protective barrier that wards off bacteria and free radicals. By harsh treatment, you’re damaging this barrier and increasing the likelihood of acne-causing issues to take place.
5. Protect your skin from environmental factors
As mentioned above, there are environmental factors that can disrupt your skin’s health and cause acne. By protecting it against these, you can treat your acne.
This can include:
- Wearing sunscreen (yes, mentioned again!)
- Using antioxidants
- Consuming an overall healthy diet
- Using a humidifier in dry climates
- Avoiding extreme temperatures on your face
Acne is unique for each person, and so is the method of treatment. The best way to get your acne under control is to schedule an appointment with us here so we can determine the cause and create a tailored treatment plan for you.