So You Want to Get Rid of Acne?
A Guide to Battling Breakouts
As the most common skin disease in the United States—an estimated 40-50 million Americans may experience it at any one time—acne (or Acne Vulgaris) affects men and women of all races…and ages! So it’s no wonder there are so many products out there promising to help you get rid of acne. But just how true can these miracle claims be? In your search to learn how to get rid of acne, it’s important to start at the source! Below we share some common causes of acne, some major misconceptions, and just how you can go about diminishing the appearance of those breakouts once and for all!
What Is Acne?
Before learning how you can help manage something, it’s imperative to know what it is—and what can cause it to occur—in the first place. Acne is a disease that compromises the skin’s oil-producing glands. Naturally, these glands produce sebum which helps keep our skin hydrated and also helps to transport dead skin cells to the surface where they are then shed. However, when someone experiences acne breakouts, these glands overproduce oil, which collects dead skin cells and other impurities and causes our pores to become clogged. When this clog is compromised with bacteria, acne can occur. The most common areas to experience acne include the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders, but it can appear on the buttocks, scalp, and other areas of the body as well.
Types of Blemishes
The next step is to understand the different types of blemishes so you can help address them. There are six major types of blemishes that result from acne. They include:
1. Whiteheads: Pimples which remain under the surface of the skin
2. Blackheads: Blemishes that occur when an open pore is clogged and that clog oxidizes and becomes dark in color
3. Papules: Small pink bumps that may be sensitive to the touch
4. Pustules: Blemishes that are red and filled with white or yellow pus
5. Nodules: Blemishes that are large, painful, and solid to the touch which remain deep under the surface of the skin
6. Cysts: Deep, painful, pus-filled pimples which are likely to cause scarring.
What Can Cause Acne?
Now that you know what acne is and what it looks like, it’s time to discover some of its potential causes. Yes, that’s right. Acne can be caused by any number of factors—and figuring out the trigger of your acne is often the key in discovering how to help get rid of the issue. The most common acne triggers include:
When hormones become unbalanced during periods of time like puberty, pregnancy, and prior to your menstrual cycle, oil glands can kick into overdrive and become clogged. These hormonal ups and downs may also be a result of starting or stopping birth control.
If mom or dad suffered with acne at any point during their lives, chances are you may have it as well.
Feeling stressed? It’s believed that stress can make existing acne worse.
While these are just a few of the causes of acne, they may not be the cause of yours. To truly determine what’s causing your sebaceous glands to kick into high gear it’s important to seek the advice of your dermatologist.
While most of us are plagued with acne during our younger years, many of us have to deal with it again (or even for the first time) later on in life. This type of acne is called adult acne and can be one of the hardest to address because dermatologists aren’t clear on its actual cause. What is clear is that adult acne is unlike the acne of our youth as it’s often much more cyclical in nature and presents most often in women as papules, pustules, and cysts around the mouth, chin, jaw line, and on the cheeks.
How to Help Reduce the Appearance of Acne
Whenever you have a breakout the ultimate goal is to learn how to get rid of that acne, but the truth is you should first focus on reducing its appearance. You’ll also want to start practicing good skin care habits to hopefully reduce your chances of more blemishes popping up in the future. Here are a few steps you can take to care for your acne-prone skin:
1. Cleanse Your Skin
Morning and night, reach for gentle cleansers that won’t irritate the skin. Always remember to follow cleansing with hydration. By skipping moisturizer, you may dehydrate your skin which can cause your sebaceous glands to overcompensate by producing excess oils.
2. Resist the Urge to Pop
It may seem like an easy way out, but popping or picking at pimples and other blemishes can make them worse and may even result in scars. What’s more, your hands can harbor bacteria that may result in additional breakouts.
3. Use Non-Comedogenic and Oil-Free Products
Reach for non-comedogenic formulas for your skin care and makeup needs. These formulas will help reduce the chances of clogged pores. Double down by using products that are oil-free as to not add to the excess oils on your skin.
4. Try Over-the-Counter Products
Products formulated with acne-fighting ingredients have been shown to reduce the appearance of acne breakouts. We list a few below!
Acne-Fighting Ingredients to Look for in Your Skincare Product Formulas
The best way to kick acne to the curb is with a product formulated with a known acne-fighting ingredient. Here are ones commonly found in products formulated to address acne:
1. Salicylic Acid
Leading the pack of acne-fighting ingredients is salicylic acid. This beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) is available in scrubs, cleansers, spot treatments and more. It works by chemically exfoliating the skin to help unclog pores and can even help to reduce the size and red appearance of acne blemishes.
2. Benzoyl Peroxide
Next on the list is benzoyl peroxide, available in cleansers, spot treatments, and more. This acne-fighter helps to kill the bacteria that can cause breakouts and blemishes while helping to remove excess oils and built up dead skin cells that clog pores.
3. Alpha-Hydroxy Acids
Found in forms like glycolic and lactic acid, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) help to chemically exfoliate the skin’s surface and help remove pore-clogging dead skin cell buildup.
Found often in spot-treatments and leave-on formulas, sulfur can help to reduce bacteria on the skin’s surface and helps to unclog pores and get rid of excess oil.
Whichever acne-fighting product you reach for there are a few things to keep in mind. Acne-fighting products can be incredibly drying and dehydrating for the skin if used too often so it’s key to remember to moisturize. Another important skin care step to remember is daily application of broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or more. Many acne products can cause the skin to become more sensitive to sunlight so it’s imperative that you layer on the SPF—and reapply often! Last but certainly not least, use acne-fighting formulas as directed on the pack. You may think you’ll get rid of your pimples and blemishes faster by using the formula more often, but you can actually create a recipe for a disaster—read: redness, dryness, irritation—instead.
Note: If your acne is severe you may want to seek the help of an expert. A dermatologist can recommend prescription treatments that may help to alleviate your acne.
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