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The secret to clear, flawless, skin

By SHILPA SHARMA
September 14, 2020 10:24 IST
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Cleanse, tone, and moisturise. Avoid sugar, dairy products, animal protein, suggests Shilpa Sharma.

How to fight acne

kindly note image has been posted only for representational purposes. Photograph: Kind courtesy Pexels.com

From home remedies, expensive skincare products to cosmetic treatments, men and women around the globe go to great lengths to keep their faces fresh and skin healthy.

However, with changing weather conditions, heat and humidity can play havoc on your skin. And acne breakouts begin appearing naturally with them.

Acne, blemishes, pimples -- no matter what you call it, is not good news for you.

In fact, acne is one of the top 10 skin challenges for women worldwide.

It not only scars the way you look but also your self-esteem.

Apart from giving you a compromised appearance, it signifies the breakdown of the defense system of the skin -- your body's largest organ.

While acne is more popular among teens and those with acne-prone skin, this skin condition can happen to anyone.

Its causes, intensity, and treatment are very individualistic and person-specific. But to find a cure, you must thoroughly understand what acne is.

What is acne?

The chronic inflammation of the skin, that causes spots and eruptions, especially on your face, shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms, is called acne or pimples.

Acne Vulgaris is the medical name for it. This skin condition occurs when dead skin and sebum, an oily substance, plug your hair follicles.

Bacteria can trigger inflammation and infection, resulting in acne.

Capable of leaving behind scars, acne can be treated effectively, but is usually persistent.

Before you begin searching for the best acne treatment, read on to know if you are likely to get acne or not.

Types of acne and how you can fix it

A lot of people might be dealing with acne, but not everyone’s acne looks the same.

Whiteheads: A common type of acne, whiteheads are white dots that form in the follicle, due to excess sebum productionand dead skin cells.

Blackheads: Non-inflammatory acne lesions, blackheads are made of oxidised melanin and are formed when a hair follicle is clogged with sebum or dirt.

Blackheads appear as black bumps on your face, back, chest, neck, arms, and shoulders.

Papules, pustules or nodules: When your skin has clogged pores and the acne bacteria multiply in the pores, the immune system sends in white blood cells to fight the infection.

This makes the surrounding area inflamed, red, and swollen. This is called inflammatory acne and that's what papules, pustules, or nodules are.

These are often painful and feel hard.

Cysts: Cyst is an uncommon type of acne. It happens when the infection goes deep into the skin, creating a red, tender bump, full of pus.

What causes acne?

Acne-causing triggers are usually the same for everyone. Yet, some individuals are more susceptible to getting breakouts due to larger pores or overactive oil glands.

Such a skin type, that easily breakouts into blemishes, is called an acne-prone skin. And it needs specialised acne prone skin care routine.

No one factor causes acne. While the cause of acne may be different for you, depending upon your skin type, health conditions, it can be different for someone else.

1. Hormones

Many teenagers who hit puberty face acne breakouts as a regular phenomenon.

Androgens play a major role in teenage acne. The rise in androgen levels, at this stage in life, can trigger a process of higher sebum production.

This changes skin cell activity, making skin glands larger and causing inflammation or acne. Hormonal imbalance can cause acne in adults as well.

Expert tip: If you experience acne mostly during pregnancy, menopause, and around periods, then it could be a possibility that you are going through hormonal abnormalities.

It is advised to get your blood test done for knowing any hormonal fluctuations in the body.

2. Harsh products

Often hair styling products seep oil onto the forehead. This leads to the trapping of acne-causing bacteria in the pores, resulting in breakouts.

Similarly; some skincare products may cause irritated pores, causing inflammation and redness.

Rich creams or heavy makeup are often the culprits here.

Also, switching products too often challenges the skin with new preservatives. This too can result in pimples.

Expert tip: Several studies have claimed that widely used skincare products such as sulfate and parabens are not good for your skin. These ingredients exacerbate the acne by clogging the pores.

Opting for sulfate and parabens free products is a secret tip to keep your skin safe from unwanted breakouts.

3. Facial hair

Bumpy skin is common after a hair removal procedure.

Removal of facial hair can irritate the hair follicles and cause an rash.

In addition, topical products applied to your skin before or after hair removal can be comedogenic and further clog pores, resulting in breakouts.

Expert tip: Facial hair creates unhygienic skin conditions, which further allow the germination of acne-causing bacteria.

Hence, removing facial hair can minimise the risk of acne.

In this case, natural home remedies are considered an effective solution to get rid of facial hair.

4. Stress

When the mind is stressed, the body releases increased levels of acne-causing hormones -- androgens -- stimulating oil glands and hair follicles. Together, these increase the chances of an acne attack.

Expert tip: Practicing deep breathing pranayama is truly a great idea to lower your stress levels.

Another benefit of breathing techniques is that it also helps to improve your skin glow and radiance.

5. Medicines/Antibiotics

Some medicines, consumed to treat a totally different medical issue, can have a side effect, causing acne.

Expert tip: You should make an appointment with your doctor if you observe that you are getting acne after the use of certain medications.

6. Diet

Bad eating habits can cause breakouts on your skin.

People with diets high in dairy products, sweets, rice, bread, potatoes, and pasta are most likely to develop acne.

Expert tip: As per skin care experts, switching to a low glycemic diet such as green vegetables is quite effective to reduce acne caused by diet.

7. Sun

Prolonged and direct exposure to the sun dries up the skin, triggering more production of oil to compensate, thereby causing pimples.

Expert tip: Slathering on a broad-spectrum sunscreen with non-comedogenic properties can keep your skin safe from sun damage and acne.

8. Humidity

Humidity levels in the air do not let sweat evaporate easily.

As a result, the sebaceous glands work overtime due to the heat. This clogs pores and forms acne.

Expert tip: In moist or humid weather, sebum production increases which lead to sudden acne breakouts.

Using the oil control wash for acne-prone skin may help to balance the oil levels in the skin

9. Detox system

Sweat glands, digestion, urinary system, and liver dispose of toxins of the body.

In case one system becomes sluggish and fails to do its job completely, the extra toxins come out of the skin, causing skin damage and acne.

Expert tip: Intake of green detox smoothies is quite effective to flush out all deposited toxins and impurities from the body.

How to take care of acne prone skin

Acne is not just as simple as an eruption on your skin or a shiny T-Zone. It is actually a sign that something else is going on in your body.

There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution for acne or a single foolproof best acne treatment.

To get rid of acne, you will first need to solve the issue causing it. Here's how you can make a start.

1. Discover the right skin care regimen

Cleanse, tone, and moisturise. Opt for acne prone skin care products and an acne prone skin care routine to maintain skin hygiene.

Also, if you tend to get acne often, a complicated skincare routine won't help. Stick to the basics, do it regularly, and stay acne-free.

2. Remember to exfoliate

While you must be careful not to over scrub your skin; basic exfoliation helps prevent acne.

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells that clog pores and cause pimples. Sticking to twice a week routine is good enough.

3. Choose suitable products

It is not necessary that everything suits your skin. Especially if your skin is acne-prone, always choose a product with no harsh ingredients.

Opt for special acne formulated products that can remove acne-causing bacteria but are also gentle on the skin.

4. Eat wisely

What you eat has a lot to do with how your skin behaves. Indulge in an anti-inflammatory diet, which includes:

  • Complex carbohydrates: Brown rice, red and yellow peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, apricots, and legumes.
  • Vitamins A, D, and E: Tuna, liver, cream, feta cheese, butter, eggs, almonds, peanuts, and broccoli.
  • Zinc: Chickpeas, beans, seeds like pumpkin and sunflower, meat and shellfish.
  • Probiotics like yogurt and buttermilk.

Avoid acne-aggravating foods such as:

  • Sugar
  • Dairy products
  • Fast food
  • Chocolate
  • Greasy foods
  • Refined grains
  • Animal protein

5. Hydrate your skin

Drinking good amounts of water enhances the hydration of the outer layer of your skin, thereby reducing skin dryness and roughness.

It also helps toxins to leave your body via your urinary system. This detoxes the body and keeps breakouts at bay.

Your physical appearance definitely impacts your professional as well as personal life. There is no better confidence booster than an acne-free skin.

Instead of fretting about how you look, opt for effective skin care topical products that can treat your acne for good.

Shilpa Sharma represents Re'equil India Private Limited, a skincare and haircare brand.

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