11 Small Changes That Can Make a Big Difference in Caring for Acne-Prone Skin

11 Small Changes That Can Make a Big Difference in Caring for Acne-Prone Skin

Acne breakouts do not come from what you put on your skin, so they cannot be treated by topical products. In short-most acne may be traced to fluctuations in hormone levels, especially androgens (male hormones, also known as testosterone), and their power to over-stimulate sebaceous glands. As acne results from inflammation caused by sebum-clogged hair follicles (pores) and bacteria, routing out the factors that cause overproduction of sebum is very important. So if you want to break the acne cycle, you need to help the body to balance itself and stop over-stimulating the sebaceous glands.

That said, we also need to remember that the skin is the largest organ of our body. Just the top layer of the skin (epidermis) covers about 3000 square inches! This big organ is also a very vulnerable one, and your habits can either help to fight acne or... actually make your breakouts worse. So take a look at 11 small lifestyle changes that can make a big difference in your fight against acne:

1.  Be persistent and consistent: Use your acne treatment as indicated

Fall brings many responsibilities and new activities. Both teen and adult acne sufferers are caught up in a swirl of those activities and, of course, fall brings the start of the holiday season. During the excitement of these busy times, you need to keep your acne treatment routine going as it is THE MOST important condition to succeed with breaking the cycle of acne. Consistent use of your acne treatments is crucial for improvement. Make it a commitment to your skin to use your treatments, every day, as directed. No skipping days! When life gets hectic, try simple reminders, like placing treatments next to your cell phone or even setting an alarm on your phone.

2.  Stay sparkling but not shiny: Clean your acne-prone skin twice a day

The face has many sebum (skin oil) producing glands. When you add to it makeup, sweat, smog, dust, and dirt, our face meets with an assault of a massive pore-clogging concoction that, if not washed away regularly, will set into your pores and result in blackheads and pimples. Even if you don't shower twice a day, it's important to cleanse your face in the morning and at night. Look for cleansers that say "noncomedogenic" on the bottle, and wash your face thoroughly-and gently-every a.m. and p.m. Do not rub or scrub, as you will force your skin to "fight back" by producing more oil, and you may also produce microscopic nicks that increase the probability of inflammation.

3.  Moisturize and beautify but use non-comedogenic skin products

It is a myth that acne-prone skin does not need to be moisturized. Especially since many acne sufferers overuse drying topical agents such as salicylic acid, to properly moisturize the skin on a regular basis is essential and may actually help in getting rid of acne by limiting the "supply" of dead skin cells that clog pores when mixed with sebum.

Use "noncomedogenic," water-based moisturizers and foundation, avoiding oil-based products and products containing parabens, petroleum byproducts, and alcohol.

4.  Be choosy: Do not fall into an exfoliation trap

Over-dry skin that results from overuse of some topical acne products containing salicylic acid or retinoids may have tiny cracks in which bacteria can breed, plus excessive flaking can amplify clogging. So when your acne is not in a flare-up stage, a gentle, nonabrasive exfoliation once a week may be helpful. Papaya is a good natural and inexpensive exfoliate that does not injure the skin but "dissolves" the dead skin cells without scratches and abrasion.

5.  Do not starve your skin: Gorge on fatty acids (omega-3), berries and greens

It seems like there's no end to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (aka "good fats"). And here's one more for you: Omega-3s have been shown to control the production of leukotriene B4, a molecule that can increase sebum and cause inflammatory acne. To increase your benefits, add foods like walnuts, avocados, flaxseed oil, and salmon into your diet. To further improve your complexion, eat berries and leafy green veggies all year round. Remember-you are what you eat!

6.  You are sweet enough-so limit sugar intake

Certain foods cause blood glucose to rise rapidly, triggering a boost in insulin and resulting in inflammation on the cellular level. Excess levels of insulin in the bloodstream trigger a hormonal cascade and endocrine response that can lead to over-dry skin that may result in more pore-clogging material and to overactive oil glands in the skin.

A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition indicates that people who consumed a low-glycemic diet, which included more whole grains, beans, and vegetables, and limited white bread, pasta, rice and sugar, had fewer breakouts.

7.  Make water your best friend

Our body is over 90% water, and water is indeed essential to sustain life. On a more everyday level, water helps to remove internal toxins and hydrate your skin from the inside out. Though there is no definitive research that shows toxins lead to breakouts, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that having about 2 cups of water significantly boosted blood flow throughout the body and skin. Your body needs to get rid of waste materials produced during metabolism, so if you cannot do it efficiently it may compromise your internal balance and even your immune system, leading to more breakouts.

8.  We know you are clean: Is your cell phone clean too?

Several studies have shown that cell phones are "germ stations." This is because your phone is exposed to thousands of bacteria as you touch it, put it down, and carry it in different places; you also touch it often to your face, and again with your hands-hands you may then use to touch your face. In addition, the heat produced by your phone may increase the growth of bacteria. So keep this "nest of trouble" away from your face, and sanitize your phone with sanitizing wipes at least once a day.

9.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... keep those tresses off your face

Pomade acne is a common condition characterized by breakouts that are caused by hair-care products including conditioner, shampoo, gel, and hairspray. This form of acne occurs when the oils from styling products seep into skin, usually around the hairline, and trap acne-causing bacteria in pores. To prevent this from exasperating your acne, apply the hair products before you wash your face so that any pimple-producing substances can be washed away.

10.  Exercise your rights... to a healthy body and healthy skin

Exercise not only helps you to keep a great body but helps to regulate your hormone levels (including insulin), reduce stress (which has been found to contribute to the production of acne lesions), improve circulation that delivers more oxygen to skin cells and carries cellular wastes away, and boost your immune system. But, there's a fine line-sweat from exercise can also lead to breakouts via skin irritation, and too much exercise may lead to higher levels of androgens, which are the single most potent stimulators of the sebaceous glands. So, it is very important that you show moderation and also make sure that perspiration-trapping clothes like sports bras, T-shirts, shorts, etc. are removed promptly and that you shower immediately after working out.

11.  Have sweet dreams

Research indicates that the risk of psychological stress increases by 14% for every hour of sleep you lose a night. So, since stress increases glucocorticoid production, which can over-stimulate sebaceous glands, lack of sleep may exacerbate acne. To improve your complexion, make sure you're getting enough sleep!

As you can see, just add a few easy tweaks to your AcnEase® routine and you can continue to make improvement with your acne. 

With a promise of clear skin,
Dr. A



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