5 main triggers of acne
There’s nothing more disappointing than learning the hard way that bad breakouts don’t necessarily end when your teenage years do. Coming to terms with adult acne is difficult but rest assured, you’re not the only grown woman dealing with zits. Many of our clients at Face Plus are perplexed that they can be worried about wrinkles and pimples at the same time, however, studies have shown that in the last 2 decades, adult acne has increased exponentially. It begs the questions, what are we doing wrong in our day to day lives to cause this condition to happen. Here is a list of 5 common triggers of acne and methods we can take to overcome them.
- Hormonal imbalance
Do you ever notice that your breakouts seem to be worse right before your menstrual cycle? This isn’t a coincidence. Fluctuation in hormones is one of the leading causes of acne breakouts. When the androgen hormone levels are elevated (the testosterone hormone predominately seen in males) your bodies response is to produce a sticky wax like sebum (oil) that disrupts the acid mantle and pH balance of your skin. A spike in the androgen hormone can often present as painful cystic acne particularly around the chin, neck and back area.
If you notice your breakouts are triggered solely by your menstrual cycle then it’s a good idea to consult your GP to see if there if any medication or supplements that can help regulate your hormone levels.
- Poor diet – excessive consumption of sugar, dairy, oily, pre-packaged food
We all know that after a naughty weekend of eating and drinking the wrong foods our punishment is often breakouts and dull, dehydrated skin. As a living organ, your skin really does feed off the nutrients we put inside and on our body. Foods that are high in fats, sugars and sodium should be eaten in moderation. Sugar in particular should be avoided as it causes your insulin levels to spike. Insulin triggers a release of androgen which as we now know is the oil producing hormone.
If you suffer from acne and eat a relatively balanced diet, then you might find you are intolerant or even allergic to some of the food groups which is triggering the breakout. Many gluten and dairy intolerants noticed that once they eliminated these food groups their skin also cleared up.
- Poor hygiene and cross contamination – ie. picking, squeezing, dirty makeup brushes, facial sponges, insufficient cleansing and cheap generic skin care).
One of the most tempting things to do is touch and pop a pimple that appears on your face. We’ve all done it, but we also know that this almost never results in the pimple going away. As pimples are a bacteria, by popping them (especially a pimple without a white head) you are essentially spreading the bacteria around your face with the potential to infect more of your pores. If you suffer from acne do not touch your face. Extractions should only be performed by a trained dermal therapist using sterile and appropriate tools and training.
If you do suffer from acne, ensure your hygiene levels are hospital grade. Wash your make- up brushes between use, change your pillow case every two days (sleep on a fresh side every night). Also, make sure you are washing your face morning and night and immediately after exercise. While you don’t want to scrub your face dry, clean skin will help to restore the acid mantle to a neutral level.
Stress results in the fluctuation of your hormone levels. the elevation of the stress producing hormone cortisol causes the sebaceous gland to overproduce oil.
Whether you work full time, are a full-time mum, or juggle both, chances are, your stress levels are high. When you’re stressed, you have an organ called the adrenal glands that makes the stress hormone cortisol, and puts it out into the body to help the body deal with stress. Unfortunately, a tiny bit of testosterone leaks out with it. For a woman, this male hormone can drive the oil glands to produce more oil—the root cause of breakouts.
Stress and acne are unfortunately inextricably linked. Acne causes serious distress on the mental health of many teenagers and adults. The interplay between anxiety and acne is very important to consider as part of your treatment plan. While anxiety alone won’t directly cause acne to develop it certainly plays a part in why it occurs and it plays an even bigger part in the severity of breakouts. While you might have developed acne because of a hormonal imbalance (common in teenagers and young adults) and/or because of a poor choice in diet, acne is greatly enhanced by the onset of stress related (anxiety) hormones.
- Digestive or immune related disorders – ie IBS, disorders of the colon, food allergy, parasites, intestinal permeability -also known as leaky gut.
Medical professionals commonly refer to your gut as your second brain. What is happening internally is directly related to what is showing externally. One study investigated 13,000 teenagers and young adults. Those with acne were more likely to experience symptoms of gastrointestinal distress like constipation and heartburn. The study found that abdominal bloating, which is a sure sign of intestinal dysbiosis and inflammation, was 37% more likely to be associated with acne.
If you think you suffer from gut related, digestive issues it is important you visit your GP for testing as you may have a disorder or a parasite. If you have been on courses on anti-biotics for instance it is likely you will need a strong pre and probiotic to help restore the good flora back to your gut.
Bottom line, if you want clear skin you need to start from the inside. Nurture your gut with probiotic rich, fermented foods and supplements under the strict guidance of your healthcare practitioner.
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