Acne & dealing with problem skins
Acne is a term that strikes terror into the heart. It is frustrating, demoralizing and considered unsightly. Although genetic in nature it is so widespread nearly 85% of the population of the United States will have to deal with some form of it at some time in their life. More commonly called “blemishes”, “zits”, or “a problem complexion,” the acne sufferer’s follicles react differently than those of a person with clear skin. There is no cure for acne. Instead we must control the eruptions until the person reaches their burn-out phase. For some people this is as they move from teen years to adulthood, for others the problem doesn’t start until the mid-twenties or menopause.
There are dozens of books and thousands of articles and websites on the topic. It is a quagmire of information to sort through. But there is some well tested clinical experience that a person can use for self-help or to find professional guidance.
Before exploring what can be done to resolve the problem, let’s deal with some of the common misconceptions.
Myth #1: Acne is caused by eating chocolate, greasy foods or junk food. It is common for acne to be triggered by stress and a poor or imbalanced diet can stress the body. A healthy balanced diet is important, however an occasional fast-foods lunch or dinner is not apt to trigger an acne outbreak. For some people there are trigger foods that seem to cause an outbreak. Keeping a food diary can reveal these.
Tests have been performed by major chocolate manufacturers in which the participants were divided into multiple groups some getting no chocolate, others getting regular chocolate, and others getting double chocolate. After a month there was no significant difference in their acne conditions. (The experiment did not address any other side effects of eating the candy such as weight gain.)
Myth #2: Acne is caused by dirty skin and hair touching the forehead. First of all, acne cannot be scrubbed away. Acne impactions extend deep beneath the surface of the skin, and they are not dirt. Ignorant people may have confused blackheads with dirt, but a blackhead is actually thousands of dead skin cells which have collected in the follicle along with the skin’s own oil and other natural debris. The dark color comes when this mass pushes to the surface and is exposed to the oxygen in the air. Since acne impactions develop deep below the surface, cleansing cannot reach acne. Sebum, from the sebaceous glands, is the oil that creates the problem—not the oil from hair. However, comedogenic ingredients in hair products can cause problems for acne-prone individuals.
Myth #3. Acne is only a teenage disease. Because of this myth, too many acne sufferers are not helped as they have been told that acne is just a part of being a teenager and it will go away when they grow up. Acne can strike at any age, and subside at any age. Untreated acne can lead to permanent scarring, both emotional and physical. This myth is a sensitive issue for adult acne sufferers.
Myth #4: It’s not acne, it’s just “complexion problems”, or an allergy, or a blemish, oily skin, etc. Acne is acne, no matter how many or few pimples a person has. Acne occurs one follicle at a time, and scarring takes place on follicle at a time. Even if a person only had one bad pimple a month that could amount to sixty scars during a five-year period.
What causes acne?
Acne is caused by propionibacterium acnes (commonly called p.acnes bacteria) trapped in the follicle with sticky sebum and build up of dead skin cells. Some of the key triggers include the following:
Combating Acne Problems
Because the problems start before they are visible it is important to do zone therapy rather than spot therapy to stay in control. If you tend to have breakouts on the forehead the entire forehead should be treated, etc. Those who only suffer from occasional or sporadic stress-related acne can more effectively do spot treatment. When working to bring acne under control keep in mind that it took time to develop and will take time to eliminate the symptoms. If the appropriate acne routine is used daily you should start to see significant changes in about a month. For some people this happens more quickly and for others it may take two to three months to achieve good control.
To control current eruptions we recommend employing the following tools:
Judith Culp, CEO of Esthetics NW has dealt extensively with acne issues during her nearly 25 years as an esthetician. Based on research and results in our clinic we offer two different lines of acne products. These can be selected based on personal preference and the severity of the acne issues.
We also suggest in-salon treatments if there is a qualified esthetician in your area. We do not recommend Microdermabrasion procedures for inflamed acne or any other inflamed condition. Salicylic peels or peels with blends of acids seem to facilitate exfoliation as do enzymatic peels. An ultrasonic peel such as with the Dermachine is a great acne treatment to loosen impactions prior to extraction. Your technician may also use high frequency to kill bacteria after extraction and facilitate healing. Well trained technicians used a mixed approach to best treat this condition. It’s rather like your fitness trainer teaching you more than one exercise. A diversity does a better job of conditioning the body.
If you live near Eugene, Oregon come and see us at the NW Institute of Esthetics. Receive specialty treatments at discounted prices from well trained students.