Acne can be a perplexing condition, but it is indeed treatable. While it can affect anyone regardless of age or gender; it typically makes its debut appearance at the onset of puberty, hence being a condition strongly associated with teenagers in a social sense. It commonly appears on areas such as the face, neck, chest, and back. Its emergence can trigger emotional distress and a negative impact on self-esteem. Understanding the root causes of acne is key to navigating this intricate maze and managing its unwelcome presence, which is what this article aims to deliver.

The Primary Culprits of Acne are: –

  • Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal changes, particularly during puberty, can lead to increased skin sebum (oil) production. Sebum helps to keep the skin moisturized. Excessive sebum and dead skin cells accumulate to clog the skin’s pores and hair follicles, creating an optimal breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria to thrive.
  • Genetics: Acne can be hereditary, meaning you are more susceptible to developing this condition if your parents also have/had acne. Genetic factors can influence sebum production, inflammation response, and overall skin sensitivity.
  • Poor Skincare Routine: Neglecting proper skincare habits can contribute to acne development. Failing to cleanse the skin regularly or using products containing harsh chemicals can irritate the skin, leading to clogged pores and breakouts.
  • Medications: Using certain drugs and medications, for instance, steroids, can cause acne.
  • Diet: Although the role of diet on acne remains debated, certain foods with a higher glycemic index, such as sugary and processed foods, can trigger or exacerbate acne in some persons. For some, dairy products aggravate acne as well.
  • Stress: High-stress levels can lead to imbalances in hormone levels, leading to inflammation and increased sebum production, both of which contribute to acne.

Effective Management Strategies: –

  • Establish a Consistent Skincare Regimen: It is recommended to cleanse your face twice daily with a mild cleanser to remove excess oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Avoid using harsh scrubs or abrasive cleansers as they irritate the skin. After cleansing, apply a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated without clogging the pores. When selecting skincare and cosmetic products, opt for those labelled non-comedogenic, as they are less likely to clog skin pores. Look for ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, which are known for their acne-fighting properties.
  • Hands-Off Approach: Avoid touching and picking at acne lesions on the face and elsewhere, as it can introduce unwanted bacteria and worsen inflammation. While tempting, do not squeeze and pop pimples because it causes scarring (can be permanent) and prolongs the healing of blemishes.
  • Maintain A Healthy Diet: Although the relationship between diet and acne is complex, consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can promote overall skin health. Limit your intake of sugary, refined foods and reduce dairy consumption if you suspect it may be triggering your acne.
  • Stay Hydrated: Being adequately hydrated promotes overall skin health and minimizes the factors that contribute to breakouts, primarily by preventing excessive oil production. Drinking sufficient water each day helps flush out toxins from the body, reducing inflammation and clogging of pores. Additionally, it supports the body’s ability to heal, regenerate new skin cells and promote a clearer complexion.
  • Manage Stress: Engage in stress-reducing activities such as exercise, meditation, yoga, etc. or pursue hobbies that help you relax. Effective stress management can help regulate hormone levels and decrease the likelihood of acne flare-ups.
  • Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure: Whilst absorption of Vitamin D from sunlight can temporarily improve acne symptoms, prolonged sun exposure can lead to skin damage and worsen acne in the long run. Protect your skin by using oil-free sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 when outdoors.
  • Medications & Topical Treatments: Indians have a variety of options available for treating acne, ranging from allopathic antibiotics (taken orally or topically) to homoeopathic treatments and traditional Ayurvedic remedies. They come in the form of creams, gels, face masks, washes, and cleansers. Medications that are effective contain chemicals such as Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, and Retinoids (Note: Prescription-Strength retinoids like tretinoin and adapalene require medical supervision). They help to exfoliate the skin, kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce oil production, unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and promote skin cell turnover. Aloe Vera is used for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: If over-the-counter products and lifestyle changes do not yield significant improvements regarding your acne state, you can consult a dermatologist (physician specialising in skin-related ailments).
  • Adequate Sleep: Get enough good quality sleep every night.

 Taking everything into account, acne is often a puzzling and irritating condition that necessitates a holistic approach considering all the causes and management of symptoms. By gaining insights and adopting multifaceted strategies, you can witness a remarkable improvement in this frustrating condition and display a more vibrant appearance.

Article Credits
Dr. Sunita Thomas, Dermatologist, CareMithra
Rohan Panicker, Creative Content Writer, CareMithra