Acne Skin Care Guide: Everything You Need to Know
You've probably seen countless skincare products around, each having a special ingredient, or some claim that it is the most effective out of the dozen similar ones. Various skincare products available today aim to address different skin concerns, the most prominent one being acne.
Acne is a skin condition that usually starts by puberty and can be more difficult to address as you get older. Unfortunately, the causes of acne can differ for everybody. It may be genetics, hygiene, diet, health, and even the environment.
If you're on the lookout for the best solution to your acne problem, you need to know everything about it—what it is, what causes it, and the different ways to prevent and hopefully get rid of it.
We've put together this comprehensive guide so you can learn everything there is to know about acne.
What is Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition when the hair follicles and pores become clogged with sebum, the oil the skin produces to prevent it from drying out. This can lead to outbreaks, commonly called zits or pimples. You'll typically find acne on the face, but it can also appear on the back, chest, and shoulders.
In healthy skin, the sebum empties from the hair follicle onto the skin surface through the pores and keeps the skin hydrated. However, people suffering from acne may have their hair, sebum, and keratinocytes—a skin cell that lines the follicle—stick together in the pores, causing them to get clogged.
The mixture of oil and cells is a perfect place for bacteria to grow. Acne can be red, bumpy, hot, and even painful to touch. The clogged follicle's wall can also break down and spill skin cells and sebum into nearby skin, causing lesions or pimples.
The Types and Symptoms of Acne
There are different types of acne, and they are widespread. Around 85% of all adolescents experience some acne. It can present in various forms, from small bumps to noticeable and painful cysts. Here are the common types of blemishes that are associated with acne.
These are also called closed comedones. Whiteheads are small, flesh-colored bumps. These types of acne typically do not cause scarring. Sometimes, hair will emerge from the center and usually have a white center with a red halo. It may appear wrinkled, especially when the whitehead is large or raised.
The medical term is open comedones. Blackheads are small, dark-colored spots that may appear slightly raised. The skin around the comedones seems normal, but the center is darker than the surrounding area. The coloration is a result of trapped dirt and oxidation. Blackheads are whiteheads that have opened.
- Pimples or Pustules
Pustules or pimples are defined by a circular center filled with a whitish, sometimes yellowish, pus. The pus inside is usually a combination of immune and bacterial cells that clog the pore. These are larger and more inflamed than whiteheads.
Papules are bumps that are usually less than a centimeter in diameter. They will appear solid, raised, and tender. The skin around it will typically look inflamed. However, unlike whiteheads, papules don't have a visible center, and the pores are not widened.
These are hard and inflamed bumps that are deep within the skin. Like papules, nodules also don't have a visible center. This is a severe case of acne and can cause further complications like scarring and hyperpigmentation. Nodules can develop when clogged pores become infected and swell underneath the skin.
Cysts form when the pores are clogged by a combination of sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells. The clogging occurs deep within the skin, deeper than a nodule. They are the largest form of acne, usually large and painful red or white bumps resulting from an infection. Because of its severity, cysts will most likely scar.
You can learn more about the differences between blackheads, acne, and spots here: Blackheads, Acne And Spots: What's The Difference And How Can You Cure Them?
What Causes Acne?
Acne affects about 50 million people. More often than not, people associate acne with puberty. While this is true, there are far more causes behind it, making it complex. Here are some of the factors that often come together to produce acne.
1. Excess sebum production
Sebum or oil is often attributed to acne, and many would think that only people with oily skin experience acne. While this is partly true, it's important to remember that everyone has oil glands and pores, making everyone susceptible to acne. The skin has sebaceous glands that produce sebum, and when the oil gets trapped inside the pore, it causes a blockage that results in comedones.
2. Dead skin cells
Your skin sheds roughly about every 28 days. It removes the topmost layer to reveal the new layer beneath. For acne-prone skin, this cell turnover process doesn't happen properly. More skin cells than usual are created and remain longer than needed. These excess skin cells clog up pores, causing comedones.
The Propionibacterium acnes bacteria live on the skin most of the time. These are usually harmless but can turn nasty. An infection of this bacteria triggers skin inflammation and turns into zits when it gets trapped in oily and airless conditions, such as clogged pores.
The androgen hormone increases in production during the pubescent years. This hormone causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more oil. These changes can also happen during midlife, particularly in women, leading to breakouts.
5. Cosmetics and products
Acne-prone skin is sensitive, which means that you're going to have to do a lot of research to make sure that the products you use are compatible with your skin. Products that are labeled non-comedogenic ensures that they won't clog your pores and add to the problem.
Common Acne Treatments
The right treatment for your skin will depend on your condition. Mild acne should be relatively easy to treat, such as whiteheads and blackheads. However, more severe cases call for a more potent treatment plan. We have a list of some common acne treatments that could help you.
1. Over-the-Counter Treatments
OTC treatments are the easiest ones to find because they require no prescription. The most common is an acne cleanser containing specific ingredients to combat the formation of more comedones. Garnier's Anti-Acne Cleanser contains salicylic acid that fights acne-causing bacteria. It helps remove oil, clears your pores, and allows the skin to shed its dead cells, thereby decreasing redness and swelling.
When using OTC products, remember that they can only solve mild to moderate acne or periodic breakouts. More severe acne may need a stronger treatment. Other active skincare ingredients include benzoyl peroxide and adapalene.
Topical treatments usually are in the form of lotions, gels, and creams. Depending on the brand or ingredient, they either require a prescription or are available over the counter. Some examples of topical medications include tretinoin and clascoterone.
Oral medications or systemic treatments are absorbed throughout the entire body and need a doctor’s prescription. They commonly treat moderate to severe acne that doesn't respond to other treatments. Common medications include antibiotics and Isotretinoin.
3. Dermatological Procedures
Some medical procedures done by a professional can help you achieve clear skin. Treatments may be painful and cause scarring, so it's better to have a dermatologist do it instead of you trying to pick at your zits. Some examples of dermatological procedures include microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and extraction.
Healthy Habits and Skincare Tips to Get Rid of Acne
There are a lot of remedies that you can do to try and get rid of your acne; you just have to be careful that they don't irritate your skin. For a less invasive approach, introduce new habits to supplement your skincare regimen. Here's a list of healthy habits and skincare tips to help you get rid of your stubborn acne.
1. Use acne-fighting skincare ingredients
The most widely used ingredients in acne skin care products typically have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This makes ingredients such as salicylic acid effective when exfoliating and removing dead skin cells to showcase newer and younger skin. This beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) works by unclogging the pores where the inflammation, bacteria, and pus sit.
Furthermore, salicylic acid also decreases the skin's sebum production, leading to fewer breakouts. With its many benefits, from clear skin to improved skin texture and even skin tone, salicylic acid is one of the many skincare staples. Products such as an acne cleanser that contains salicylic acid can deeply cleanse the pores, remove excess oil, fight acne bacteria, and brighten the skin.
2. Maintain a healthy diet
Excessive amounts of high glycemic foods can lead to the development of acne. Try to incorporate more foods rich in antioxidants like leafy vegetables and fruits.
3. Get enough sleep and stay hydrated
Sleeplessness is one of the main triggers of acne. Lack of sleep can lead to increased stress and is a recipe for disaster when it comes to your skin's health. Apart from this, not drinking enough water can lead to negative habits and poor health that may reflect on your skin.
4. Keep your hands off your face
There will always be that little voice in your head saying, "pop it!" But, we're here to tell you that that will be the worst thing to do for your skin! Your hands aren't always clean. Your nails and the tools you use to pop your zits can get dirty. Squeezing can cause acne to spread or lead to further infection and even deep scars.
5. Change your sheets and your towel
If you haven't noticed, your face touches your sheets and your towel every day, and more often than not, you exchange sweat, dirt, and oil with them. Not regularly washing them can lead to a build-up of bacteria. Make sure that you change your sheets and towel once a week to avoid this.
Read here to learn more about the tips and tricks to preventing stubborn acne for good. The Best Skincare Tips to Help Prevent Acne
Re-think your Skincare Game
Acne is such a common skin concern, but the experience will differ from person to person. But remember that what works for someone may not work for you and vice versa, so you should take the time to learn and listen to what your skin needs so you can provide it with the best care.
Garnier has a wide range of products that are perfect for giving you that beautiful, flawless skin! Get yours from our online shop today!