The myth is out there: chocolate causes acne! What if there was some truth in it, but it was not the entire story. Maybe we eat more sweets when we are stressed, and it is really stress that causes acne? As our knowledge about the link between wellbeing and skin grows, our understanding of the triggers of inflammatory adult acne grows too.
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that results in what we colloquially call break outs. It is more than just the teenage zit we associate with a break out. Acne incorporates a range of skin conditions that result in a disruption to the skins barrier.
Acne occurs when sebum builds up in the hair follicle, and becomes trapped. When the comedones are closed, they are called whiteheads and when they are open, blackheads. Squeezing comedones can let in bacteria, causing an infected lesion.
When a pore has become infected, it begins to form a papule or a pustule. A papule is an inflamed pimple that involves the top layers of skin. Pustules are filled with pus, and appear yellow, cream or greenish in colour.
Acne lesions that involve the deeper layers of skin are termed nodules and cysts. These should be treated by a dermatologist. Whichever sort of acne you have, never touch it. Always allow a professional to treat your skin, and speak to a skin healthcare professional about what products best suit your skin type.
Whether your acne is mild, moderate or severe, stress can contribute to the proliferation of acne. Stress is one of the most accepted side effects of the modern lifestyle. Did you know that one of the biggest contributing factors of many lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and heart disease is stress? Are you are starting to think that your breakouts are more than that chocolate bar you had on Wednesday?
The link between stress and inflammation
When we are stressed, the adrenal glands of our kidneys secrete a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is great when we need it- it helps us manage stress, reduce inflammation, maintain blood pressure and assist the immune system. However, cortisol is best in small doses over short periods. An increase in the duration of stress causes an increase in the release of cortisol having a detrimental effect by: increasing inflammation and blood pressure, and lowering the immune system. Stress also increases free radicals, which contribute to breakouts and aging skin.
Our bodies weren’t designed to operate at high stress levels for extended periods of time. Research into acne and stress has found that increased cortisol levels and reduced antioxidants contribute to the severity and incidence of acne. So what can you do to treat acne?
Acne needs to be treated with more than the best skin care products. If you have moderate to severe acne, you should see a dermatologist who can prescribe medical treatment for your skin condition. Tackle acne by using the best topical skin care products, eating food rich in antioxidants, drinking plenty of water and feeling your best.
The best skin care products are tailored towards your unique skin care needs. A skin care regime that is tailored towards your skin care needs may include a skin hygiene routine, chemical peels, prescription medication and modification of lifestyle factors. Any skin type can get acne, so choosing a skin care regime that maintains the best parts of your skin, whilst managing your acne is important.
Make an appointment
If you have questions or require information about managing acne, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a dermatologist.