Dealing with acne is a struggle, and not just something you deal with physically, but emotionally as well! For individuals suffering from acne, breakouts can be a huge damper on their confidence and self-esteem – making them self-conscious about the blemishes on their face and even their body!
Cosmetically, acne blemishes can ruin an otherwise perfect face and complexion. From reddish pink – raised bumps, to whiteheads, blackheads or cysts, acne blemishes can present themselves in a number of different ways.
Dirt, Oils, and Hair Follicles
Acne is generally a product of excess facial oil, known as sebum. The sebum causes dirt, hair, dead skin cells, and bacteria to be trapped within the pores. Hair follicles come from the pores along the face and body and are connected to your oil glands. When the follicle wall becomes inflamed, a whitehead is produced, however, when the follicle opening is exposed to dirt or dead skin cells a blackhead will form. Similarly, when the hair follicle opening is inflamed and is exposed to bacteria – it becomes infected and a red pimple develops. The deeper the infection occurs within the follicle, the more cystic the acne becomes.
What Triggers Breakouts?
Many assume acne is caused by greasy foods, and while this may not wholly correct, certain lifestyle habits can indirectly act as a trigger and aggravate or cause a breakout. The most common acne triggers are:
- Hormonal Changes – Hormones known as androgens cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge, and create excess sebum (oil). The production of these hormones, is common during puberty for both men and women. In addition, the hormonal changes that occur for women during pregnancy or through the use of birth control, are also known to increase sebum production.
- Diet – While foods don’t directly cause acne, our diet has a lot to do with our overall health as well as the production of certain hormones within the body. Indirectly, certain foods, like – milk/dairy, carbohydrates, as well as sugary chocolates are known to make acne worse and can trigger breakouts.
- Stress – Stress produces cortisol and other harmful hormones within the body. These hormonal changes cause breakouts.
- Medications – Acne can also be caused by the use of certain drugs, both prescription and non-prescription.
Acne Risk Factors
The following factors are known to trigger acne breakouts.
- Age – Acne can occur at any age, however it is far more prevalent in those in their teenage years.
- Genetics – Acne has a lot to do with family history; if your parents and grandparents suffered from acne breakouts than it is far more likely for you to as well.
- Greasy Products – One of the major factors known to contribute to the proliferation of acne is the use of lotions or skincare products with grease or oils known to clog up pores and hair follicles.
- Hormones – Most common for teenagers, women, and girls – when going through periods of change and development, experience hormonal imbalances that lead to acne.
- Physical Irritations – When your skin comes into contact with items that may cause friction or unclean surface – like phones, straps on a bag, hats, or headbands – these areas are far more susceptible to acne.
- Lifestyle – Those living a high stress life, or working in a high-pressure environment are far more likely to suffer acne issues than those who do not.