Acne is a skin condition in which hair follicles become clogged and blocked with oil or dead skin cells which results in whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. Acne is most common in teenagers going through puberty but it can also affect people at all ages. Increasingly here at Akina we see more of our clients struggling with acne in their 30s and 40s. It usually appears on the face, forehead, shoulders, chest and upper back. Acnes can range from different levels of severity depending on the individual and the type of skin they have.
Acne is not a curable disease but it can be managed and controlled with the right treatment program. Again different treatments work for different individuals depending on their circumstances. Mild acne can be treated through looking at diet, nutrition and overall skin care routine. In more severe cases acne can be treated with prescribed medication through the pill, Roaccutane or acne antibiotics. It is important to discuss all options with your GP in advance to starting any program if your condition is acute.
What is Acne?
Acne is a disorder of the sebaceous gland that can be inherited. Between 10% – 20% of women suffer from acne due to hormone where there is an excess of a hormone called androgen. Acne develops when excess oil being produced by the oil glands attracts an increase in the amount of bacteria that is normally present on the skin, causing the Propionibacterium Acne (P-Acne) now called cutibacterium bacteria to thrive, this bacteria is a normal part of the skin flora and is what is responsible for acne breakouts. When there is excess oil being produced this bacteria thrives, in turn it can then trigger an inflammatory process in the sebaceous gland (where oil is produced). The pore becomes blocked with excess dead cells as well as bacteria, forming an inflamed lump under the skin surface.
Certain medications can cause acne to flare up or worsen. Drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium are known for causing flare ups so be sure to try avoid any drugs containing these substances. The role of diet is controversial, but more on that a little later.
How to Treat Acne
Dealing with acne should be something that is done by coming at it from a number of angles, We have a few simple but effective tips for you that can help in your treatment of acne and breakouts.
Stop Over Exfoliating
Our skin’s outer layer has an acid mantel that is made up of complex fluids, along with lipids (oils), that are secreted from the oil glands, it is the end result of the skins metabolism. The normal bacteria that is found naturally occurring on the skin’s surface actually helps to maintain a healthy skin. This layer acts as a protector to the underlying layers of the skin, it also works at fighting any harmful bacteria on the skin. When we exfoliate with harsh products or cleansers, we can upset that balance and take away some of that protection that the acid mantle has in place. A skin that has an impaired acid mantle will be more vulnerable to damage, inflammation and acne. Acne sufferers often over exfoliate or over cleans because they feel that their skin feels greasy. This can often do more harm that good as there should be a healthy balance.
Cut out refined sugar.
Sugar has a very negative affect on our system it causes our bodies to have an inflammatory response, which in turn can trigger flare ups on the skin. Sugar causes spikes in insulin levels, a hormone that is thought to have a direct effect on oil production in the skin. A natural process in the body known as glycation is where sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules known as advanced glycation end products or AGEs for short. The more sugar you eat the more of these AGEs are produced in your body. This is bad news because the body does not recognise AGEs as normal and will produce antibodies to fight them, that in turn causes inflammation in the skin. Sugar is in all foods, even whole grains and vegetables turn to glucose when digested.
The key here is to limit added sugar, watch on food labels for added sugar and avoid refined sugars. Don’t eat any more than 2 portions of fruit per day. Don’t be fooled that you are eating healthy when you drink a fruit smoothie, it is basically liquid sugar and will cause spikes in your hormones levels. Even though fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals and is good for you, keep it to a minimum in your diet.
Eat a Low GI diet.
Foods that have a high glycemic index will also cause spikes in hormonal levels. The Glycemic index is a number that is given to carbohydrates based on how quickly the foods are absorbed into the bloodstream. The body works at its best when there is a relatively constant blood sugar level. If we eat too little our blood sugar drops and we become tired and lethargic, if we eat too much our body releases more insulin to bring our blood sugar back down. These increased hormonal levels can cause inflammation in the skin, resulting in breakouts.
Dairy and Acne
For years the link between diet and acne has been unclear, with medics regularly dismissing any connection. However, in recent studies it has been shown that there is a direct link between those who drink milk regularly and suffer with acne. It is thought that skimmed milk products in particular can cause problems. It is important to remember that this is not the cause of acne, but merely an aggressor to a pre existing condition. To see if dairy is something that might be one of the things that causes you to break out, you can take a break from dairy for a period of 2-3 weeks to see if your skin improves. It’s not recommend cutting all dairy completely from your diet for any great length of time without supervision from a nutritionist or dietitian.
Skincare for Acne
-Cleanse twice daily remember that just because you have breakouts doesn’t mean that you are oily. So using a cleanser that is appropriate to you skin type is important.
– Moisturiser is needed, often people feel that a moisturiser will make their skin more oily but it is about finding the right type of moisturiser that is key.
– Sunscreen is important to help protect the skin from environmental damage.
Active ingredients to look out for;
-Alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid or lactic acid to help exfoliate the skin and reduce the build up of dead skin cells.
-Niacinamide is an ingredient that will help to protect the lipid barrier on your skin. It also brightens skin and calms redness.
– Hinokitiol is an ingredient that is anti bacterial and combined with Oligopeptide can work like benzoyl peroxide.
-Start Using Creams that contain Retinoids.
Retinoids are products that are derived from Vitamin A that can be used topically or orally to help deal with acne.
We have a wide range of products Alumier available in our clinic to help combat acne and make it a little more manageable. Here’s the ones that we recommend.
RETINOL RESURFACING SERUM 0.25
Retinol Resurfacing Serum 0.25 is a pure potent microencapsulated retinol serum that dramatically reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improves texture and tone by strengthening skin and improving elasticity. This formula also targets blemish-prone skin, minimizes pore size appearance and evens skin tone. Unlike many other retinols, our retinol is microencapsulated using cutting-edge technology to allow for a gradual timed release overnight.
ACNE CLARIFYING CLEANSER 177ML
Salicylic Acid: Known as a beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is an exfoliant with soothing properties. It is oil-soluble, allowing it to penetrate into pores to effectively exfoliate dead skin cells and control acne pimples.
ACNE BALANCING SERUM
Acne Balancing Serum is an advanced, lightweight acne serum that penetrates pores to reduce acne, allow skin to heal and prevent new pimples. An innovative encapsulated salicylic acid technology provides a slow even release into the skin, minimizing irritation while extending effectiveness. Resveratrol, hinokitiol and tea extracts provide antioxidant protection against free radical damage from the sun, pollution and irritation.
Environ Sebuwash Gel Cleanser is pleasantly fragranced mild, low foaming cleansing gel containing tea tree oil. It gently remove excess surface oils and environmental debris without drying out your skin so retains its natural acid balance.
Unfortunately acne is a disease that hinders a lot of people’s confidence and self esteem which can also cause long term scarring. Although there are no definitive answers to how best to treat acne there are ways of managing and controlling it to prevent long term damage to your skin.
If you’d like to learn more about what treatments, serums or specific skin care might be best suited for your skin then book an appointment at Akina. We take a tailored skin care approach to all our clients to ensure we find the right treatments and skin care for you. Click the link below to book your free consultation today.