Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that affects up to 80% of teenagers and 20% of adults. To be honest it is one of those 'rites of passage' to adulthood that no one actually wants to experience! Sadly, many of us do and it can affect self-confidence during a time that is awkward enough. Often parents don't know where to start when their teen starts breaking out - that's where I come in.
The root cause of acne usually comes down to hormonal fluctuations. In the teenage years, Androgens (sex hormones) naturally surge, causing a knock-on effect of sending the sebaceous glands into overdrive, producing excess oil (sebum), and will cause spots if the skin is not cared for properly externally. Sebum is not a bad thing however, comprised of squalene, waxes, and lipids, sebum keeps our skin hydrated, waterproof and is a key player in maintaining the skin's barrier or 'acid mantle'.
Bacteria is a key player in more serious acne-causing inflammation and discomfort, namely an acne-specific bacteria called 'p-acnes'. P-acne loves a disrupted skin barrier, excess oil, and build-up of old skin cells to create an environment for inflammation and opportunity to spread. Reducing the spread of bacteria through good hygiene and little things like changing pillowslips every few days and using an appropriate cleanser will help to increase cellular turnover.
Unfortunately, acne can continue or can flare up in your 40's as peri-menopause begins, oestrogen levels decline and androgens again disrupt the balance while hormones find a new equilibrium.
Acne has 4 grades of severity, from grade one of small whiteheads, blackheads, usually found along the oiler 't-zone' to grade 4 which is indicative of cystic acne, which is severe, painful, and inflamed.
At each stage, there are tools to improve the skin's condition that can be used to combat spots and bacteria, below are some general tips but it is best to have a chat on the phone or in-person with me or your nearest skin professional about your skin condition to get the best result for you.
1. Clean up your diet - Dairy has been linked in a study to inflaming certain skin conditions, 21 studies in 2009 alone concluded a link between dairy consumption and severity and regularity of acne breakouts. (Linked below). Luckily, cutting out excess dairy or switching to dairy-free alternatives completely is an easy option these days. If your skin is breaking out regularly you can eliminate dairy and see if that makes a difference for you. Focusing on fresh, colourful whole foods and small fatty fish such as sardines or mackerel also is a good way to boost antioxidants and essential fatty acids which have a proven link to skin health and vitality.
2. Get hormonal support and clarity on what your hormones are doing.
The hormone component of skin health is a personalised part of your skin journey and essential to your overall health which I totally geek out on, There are certain tests available through your GP via Medicare or as an option you can run in-depth functional tests (at a cost) at Nourish Health Clinic. Conditions such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) have a strong link to skin issues, so knowing what your hormones are doing, is key.
3. Use the correct skincare - This is essential to the health of your skin, using the wrong products can irritate an already inflamed skin, so a visit to our clinic or having a phone chat to get the right products tailored to your skin's condition can put you on the right track.
4. The right treatments - Light peels, Light therapy treatments, Skin and barrier repairing facials can heal and treat skin at the same time, Skin needling is another treatment that can work very well on acne and prevent and repair scarring.
5. The little things do make a difference too, more water daily to flush your system, change pillowcases regularly, wash your face twice daily and keep your hands off your face as much as possible. If you wear a mask to work, an anti-bacterial skin spray can help keep bacteria at bay, (available in clinic)
Good skin takes time and consistency, but with the right support, we can get your acne under control and clear your skin in no time.
If you are tired of breaking out and trying to understand your skin, let us do a deep-dive into your skin health together. Book in at www.nourishhealthclinic.com.au for a personalised plan for you.