Acne starts when the pores in your skin get clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Each pore is connected to a sebaceous gland, which produces an oily substance called sebum. Extra sebum can plug up pores, causing the growth of a bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes. Many factors contribute to the development of acne, including diet, stress, hormone changes and infections.
Hormonal acne is exactly what it sounds like — acne tied to fluctuations in your hormones. Although it’s typically associated with hormone fluctuations during puberty, hormonal acne can affect adults of any age. It’s especially common in women. A number of factors may contribute to this, including menstruation and menopause. Hormonal adult acne typically forms on the lower part of your face. This includes the bottom of your cheeks and around your jawline. Although most noticeable on the face, it can occur on the neck, chest, back and shoulders. If you have adult acne, it may seem like an endless battle to manage your problem sensitive skin.
- High-glycemic carbohydrates, such as white bread and food rich in sugar can boost the male hormone, therefore, causing acne to flare up.
- Hormonal fluctuations are the number one cause of adult acne. Hormones can go out of whack from stress, diet, PMS, menopause or pregnancy. The hormone that starts the chain reaction is the male hormone testosterone, which makes the skin glands produce and release excess oil through your skin pores.
- Blocked pores allow the bacteria Propioibacteria that live in the sebaceous glands of your skin to multiply greatly.
- Androgen hormones: testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and what these androgen hormones do is increase the size of your oil glands. If your oil glands are bigger, you’re producing more oil, your pores are more likely to get blocked and then bacteria that live on the skin’s surface can then act on this to create spots”, according to Dr Anjali Mahto (British Association of Dermatologists).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) terms, there are three underlying causes of acne. Firstly, consuming too much spicy, sweet or oily food can lead to heat and dampness accumulating in the stomach and spleen. This disrupts the normal flow of ‘qi’, a person’s life force. “The damp-heat moves upward and outward instead. It gets trapped at the skin surface and manifests as acne,” says Eu Yan Sang physician Anita Pee. Excessive heat and wind in the lungs can also lead to a breakout. In TCM, wind is believed to have a pathogenic, or disease-causing, ability. “When pathogenic wind attacks, the uppermost part of the body, mainly the lungs, is affected first,” she explains. “Combined with excess heat, the wind-heat trapped in the lungs manifests as acne on the skin surface, and is often itchy.” Finally, acne also develops when there is too much dampness in the body. A weak spleen impairs the body’s ability to process nutrients from food and water. This, in turn, disrupts the flow of qi, blood production and circulation. “Dampness and blood stagnation obstructs skin pores and causes the formation of deep-rooted and large acne,” she says.
Choosing the right cleanser: choose cleansers, rinses, and washes with a pH closer to the skin’s natural pH of around 5.5 to reduce the risk of acne flare-ups and let sores heal.
Zinc: is an essential nutrient that’s important for cell growth, hormone production, metabolism and immune function. Individuals with acne tend to have lower zinc levels than people with clear skin. Several studies show that taking zinc orally can significantly reduce acne.
Tea tree oil: it’s well known for its ability to fight bacteria and reduce skin inflammation. Specifically, tea tree oil helps fight P. acnes and S. epidermidis, two types of bacteria that can cause pimples.
Aloe vera: is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, meaning it may reduce the appearance of acne and prevent acne breakouts.
Coconut oil: contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds. These properties mean that coconut oil may destroy acne-causing bacteria and reduce redness and swelling of pimples. Coconut oil may also speed up healing in open acne sores.
Green Tea: has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that may be beneficial for the skin. To get its effects, use a cooled cup of green tea as a face wash or lay the bag over the affected area. “This will be helpful in soothing irritated skin and reducing the inflammation of acne lesions, but don’t expect it to completely clear your complexion,” says Jacknin.
Omega-3 fatty acids: have anti-inflammatory properties that may improve acne. Get the benefits from taking a multi-nutrient capsule containing fish oil, or add more salmon, albacore tuna, flaxseeds, and walnuts to your diet. Studies have shown that getting more of omega 3s may reduce acne breakouts. Now, find out the daily habits of people who never get acne.
Vitamin A: is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in skin health by reducing sebum production and the buildup of keratin in the follicle. A strong relationship exists between decreased blood levels of vitamin A and an increase in the severity of acne.
B2 (Riboflavin): aids cell turnover and collagen maintenance, which protects the structural integrity of your skin, reduces inflammation, and speeds wound healing. It also helps with mucus secretion in the skin, thus preventing the dryness that leads to oil production (and therefore acne) and improves zinc absorption, another important mineral for skin health.
B3 (Niacin): treats a variety of skin conditions and irritations, including dermatitis, acne, rosacea, eczema, dry and sun-damaged skin, and hyperpigmentation. It’s also a strong anti-aging ingredient and as such, features prominently in skin care products targeted at fine lines and wrinkles.
Echinacea: stimulates Phagocytosis. Phagocytosis is the process by which living cells (phagocytes) engulf or ingests dying cells, dead cells, bacteria and harmful foreign particles (all these lead to clogging of follicles) and contributes to the development of acne. By enhancing this process, the skin will be free from those substances that lead to acne development such as bacteria and dead skin cells.
Burdock: has long been used to treat skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, and eczema. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of the root can help resolve skin issues.
Dandelion: has been recognized by herbalists all over the world as an excellent liver remedy. Dandelion root is used to cleanse the blood and liver which helps to promote clear skin. Dandelion has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that make it very effective in neutralizing acne causing bacteria in the skin.
Borage Oil: the GLA in borage oil helps combat the inflammation in acne and rosacea skin conditions. Borage oil is thought to be particularly helpful with acne because its fatty acids help dilute sebum according to this study. People with acne tend to have too much sebum which is a contributing factor in acne.
Red clover: has been known to lower the amount of nitrogenous waste thanks to the fact that it contains molybdenum. Too much nitrogenous waste contributes to skin problems like acne, so by lowering its amount red clover is able to reduce acne occurrence. Red clover is a phytoestrogenic herb, meaning that it contains natural compounds – specifically isoflavones – that mimic the properties of estrogen in the female body. When estrogen levels increase, oil production slows. For this reason, red clover may be useful in treating conditions related to hormonal imbalances such as acne.
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