Zap that Zit!

A skin woe faced by almost everyone– Acne is a common skin condition caused by clogged follicles, overactive oil glands and excess oil build-up along with bacteria and dead skin cells. Acne can affect people of all ages, but is most prevalent among teenagers since oil glands and hormones get stimulated during puberty. Adult acne is usually a result of stress and hormonal imbalances.

Most people use the word acne and pimples/zits interchangeably, however, acne encompasses other things too:

Although there’s no sure-shot formula to “prevent” acne, with awareness and good skin hygiene, it can be largely controlled. Here’s how:

Dig in deep

Carefully study the ingredients of your skin products since every brand uses varied concoctions. Find out what suits your skin type and choose gentle, acne-targeting skin care products.

Makeup, lotions, sunscreens, creams etc. formulated with non-comedogenic ingredients such as sweet almond oil, hemp seed oil, grapeseed oil, and similar oils are a great way to control acne. If possible, ask for samples and try them to check if it causes breakouts.

Be aware

Topical products containing adapalene help to unclog pores and avert new breakouts, whereas anti-acne ingredients contained in salicylic acid-based products eliminate bacteria and dead cells. Always consult a dermatologist thought, since some non-prescription OTC anti-acne creams/medicated acne gels can cause serious reactions. Also refrain from using friend/family recommended skin products, even if you have identical symptoms.

Step-wise solution

Acne on oily skin can be addressed by treating the root cause – excess sebum. For this, oil-free, lightweight moisturisers  / face washes are great. Oil control can also be achieved using a 3-step process – wash your face using a mild cleanser, followed by a toner or oil-free primer, and frequently blot facial oil with facial wipes / tissues. To prevent acne breakouts from darkening further, use an oil-free sunscreen.

Toners are excellent for opening up blocked pores. Spray / dab a mild toner on your cleansed face and bid goodbye to acne.

Do it right

Frequently sleeping with makeup on causes acne breakouts or bumpy rashes called perioral / periocular dermatitis. Use a mild cleansing milk to wipe off makeup and dirt and wash the face before going to bed. When removing make up, it’s best to first take off eye makeup and then cleanse with a gel or foaming cleanser.

For those engaging in high intensity work outs or sports, it is advisable to wash the face before exercising.

Snooze, you won’t lose!

They don’t call it ‘beauty’ sleep for nothing. 7 - 8 hours of sleep helps the body and skin rejuvenate from everyday strain and stress, ultimately preventing acne, dark circles, and fine lines.

Stress acne

Research shows that high stress levels cause existing acne to worsen and/or slow down healing. Rising cortisol levels disrupt hormone levels that regulate sebum balance leading to clogged pores, more skin oil production, and resultant stress acne breakouts.

Given the involvement of cortisol, the key difference between stress acne and hormonal acne is the timing. Hormone-triggered acne shows up around the start of the menstrual cycle, whereas stress-induced acne can appear at just about any time.

In The Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology, a 2017study titled "Emerging Issues in Adult Female Acne”, involved a self-administered, dermatologist-authenticated questionnaire of over 3,000 French women aged 25 - 40 years - 41% reported adult-onset acne, adding that stress was the chief precipitating factor in half the surveyed women.

If stress acne happens often, try switching your skincare routine and use products that work with your specific skin type. Managing stress levels accompanied by a healthy diet, plenty of fluids, exercise, and sufficient sleep, all collectively help control stress-triggered breakouts.

Ask the experts

Regardless of skin type, if acne persists or worsens, seeking medical advice is the best bet to get appropriate skincare options and speed up recovery. Most importantly, understand, listen to and respect your skin.

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