Acne is one of those things that can easily shatter a woman’s self-confidence to pieces.
Whether it’s a bad case of face acne breakouts or the single morning discovery of a pimple or two on the chin, we all know it’s annoying. But before you rush into one or another treatment, get informed first.
To know how to win the battle against acne, you should first understand their causes. Acting on the causes, instead of masking the symptoms is the right way to go when it comes to a complex skin condition such as acne. This article will help you nail down the root causes of acne in women, and we won’t stop there. Read on for useful tips on how to effectively deal with acne.
Why Do We Get Acne?
A pimple can be caused by a number of factors, usually, all of them combined. In the deeper layers inside our skin, we have the sebaceous glands. As any other glands in our bodies, they produce a secretion and in this case, it’s called sebum. Sebum is the natural oil that the skin uses to keep healthy. Your skin has a specific rate of sebum production dictated by your genetic code. That’s why we can have oily, dry or normal skin. Sometimes one or more pores in the skin can get partially clogged because the glands underneath produced more sebum than needed. Usually, this is how it all starts. Those pores can later develop into pimples and that’s why people with oily skin (above average sebum production) are more acne-prone.
Equally important is what comes from the outside. A blend of dirt, oil from cosmetic products, dead skin cells that haven’t yet fallen off and other impurities can also clog the pore on the outside. Now it becomes even more certain that a formerly healthy pore will transform into a potentially painful zit. That’s why cleaning your face regularly is a staple for any beauty regimen.
Of course, you know that where there is dirt, there are bacteria. Acne-causing bacteria adore the oily environment of a blocked skin pore, so it soon gets attacked by harmful bacteria.
And once bacteria got involved, inflammation follows. By now, the pore has probably gotten painful thanks to the bacterial infection. You need to be very careful in how you treat this spot on your skin since wrong moves can cause scarring. And we definitely want to prevent scars by all means, as they can sometimes be severe.
What Kinds of Acne Affect Women Specifically
One of the common factors that can affect the appearance of acne is hormonal changes. Ta-daah.
Now, we aren’t drawing the usual, stereotypical connection between women and hormones here. Hormonal imbalances also cause acne in men, for example during puberty. The thing is that the female body deals with a few more periods in life when hormonal mess-up is commonplace. Think pregnancy, menopause and the different stages of the menstrual cycle. Passing through any of this puts you at a higher risk of getting acne. This is why women most often suffer from hormonal acne.
What Is Hormonal Acne
Medical experts criticize the term because it doesn’t exist in acne typologies in medical research or practice. So, hormonal acne isn’t a label for a specific type of acne, it’s something we use for practical reasons. Hormonal acne refers to acne that shows in adults as a result of hormonal imbalances. These can be of any type, say a group of blackheads or a single painful, red cystic acne on your chin, your neck, your cheeks – practically anywhere.
Hormonal acne show in periods of upset hormonal activity. Things that can mess up hormones include:
- birth control
- the monthly period
- certain prescription medications (especially those with androgens)
Keep in mind that a pore that has just recovered from deep cystic acne is dilated. The acne might not even have enough time to heal until your next period. This is why hormonal cystic acne may keep popping up on the same spot each month.
The hormones guilty of causing acne are called androgens. This group of hormones is responsible for male characteristics. It increases in both male and female bodies during puberty. Increased level of androgen in women is what causes acne by stimulating sebum overproduction.
Acne can also appear in women during menopause. In these cases, usually, androgen levels are normal. What can cause acne is a drop in the production of estrogen (the female hormone), which disrupts the hormonal ratio.
In all these cases, ordinary acne treatments do not always give the desired results. So, if you’re a woman and you know you want to stop those pimples showing again next month, what are your options?
Tips for women to reduce acne
Here are some tips for you to follow if you’re trying to beat hormonal skin defects.
Cut to the core — address hormones to stop oil overproduction
Some things that cause an increased level of androgens can be addressed through lifestyle changes and activities:
- Reduce the sugars in your diet. An increased level of blood sugar has been found to prompt your reproductive glands (the ovaries) to produce more hormones, including androgens. Eat a more balanced, healthy diet with less sugar and carbs. Add probiotics to your diet for healthy gut bacteria.
- Relax. A big part of androgens doesn’t get produced in the ovaries, but in the adrenal glands, which get activated during the stress response. So, being in a stressful state directly triggers hormonal disruptions. If you’re caught up in a fast-paced, busy life, take a break. Try to reduce stress by introducing weekly stress-relief activities such as walks in nature, spa, yoga or meditation.
- Choose high-quality meat, eggs, and dairy. Some would advise you to skip them altogether and they probably won’t be wrong. But if you like eating these hormone-disrupting foods, at least try to invest a bit more in getting organic eggs, milk, and meat.
Never stop exploring, never stop exfoliating
The upper layer of our skin, called epidermis, is where old cells die all the time and fall off. In their place, new cells are created by the body. This process is called cell turnover. Sometimes, though, old cells can be a bit stubborn and stay stuck on the surface of your skin, taking an active part in clogging pores. If we somehow manage to help our body speed up cell turnover this will lead to faster post acne healing and less clogging. The new skin composed of new, healthy cells will look much brighter and refreshed. Well, there is such a method and it’s called exfoliation.
Exfoliation involves applying a certain substance on your skin to make dead cells dissolve and fall off. Usually, we pick substances containing natural or chemical acids. As scary as it sounds, chemical exfoliation is a very safe, healthy and effective skin treatment. You can either do milder versions at home more often, or you can go periodically to a dermatologist and do a chemical peel.
Your dermatologist will determine the exact type and strength of the chemical peel. Chemical peels inhibit the skin’s production of excess sebum. Moreover, they are specifically designed to destroy acne-causing bacteria in the skin.
A monthly chemical peel for some time can help you effectively get rid of the recurring hormonal acne for good.
Quick fixes from the pharmacy
While we’d like to convey the importance of understanding acne to address their underlying causes, once you do breakout you need to first focus on taking proper care. The skin is ultra sensitive during this time, even if you only have a few zits. Therefore, how you treat it until the inflamed red spots are gone is vital.
Make sure you stay away from direct sun exposure. When you do need to go out, apply a mild sunscreen. Those using zinc oxide as the sunblock agent are great for sensitive skin.
Be extra gentle with your skin in the application of anything on your face. Needless to say, DON’T squeeze the pimples. In fact, stay away from even touching them. Not only will you not improve the situation a bit, but you can even cause permanent scarring. If you decide to go for an in-office chemical peel, before applying the mix on your face, your dermatologist will first clean your face professionally, including existing acne.
Pay a visit to the pharmacy to find an over-the-counter product, which can help your face heal faster. Benzoyl peroxide is famous for being the most effective ingredient to really help your acne. It’s a powerful antimicrobial substance that will support your skin in killing the acne-causing bacteria.
Depending on the severity of the acne, in bad cases, you may wanna consult a dermatologist for a more comprehensive treatment.
Going back to tips in the prevention camp, you’d be wise to add some useful supplements to your diet. Your skin is actually very smart and hardworking. In fighting acne, you should work with your skin and not against it. With taking regular, well-chosen natural supplementation, you support your skin in its function and make it more resistant to different conditions.
Not only are supplements good for the skin, but there’s no such thing as a skin-only supplement. Upping your intake of important vitamins and minerals usually has an overarching positive effect on your overall health and wellbeing.
Some of the best natural supplements for reducing acne for women include omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin B complex, Magnesium, Vitamin A, or Vitamin C. Make sure you do proper research to choose good quality brands. Food-based supplements are supposed to be better since the body can absorb them easily.