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Acne: unveiling the breakout and its causes

Acne vulgaris, commonly known as acne, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It manifests as blemishes, ranging from blackheads and whiteheads to inflamed papules and pustules, primarily on the face, chest, and back. While often associated with adolescence, acne can affect individuals of all ages and ethnicities, causing significant physical and psychological distress. Understanding the complex interplay of factors that contribute to acne is crucial for effective management and prevention.

Unravelling the causes of acne

The development of acne is a multifaceted process influenced by key factors:

  1. Sebum, an oily substance produced by sebaceous glands, plays a vital role in skin lubrication and protection. However, hormonal fluctuations, particularly during puberty, can trigger excessive and thicker sebum production, creating a fertile ground for acne development.
  2. The inner lining of hair follicles, where sebum is produced, can become overly active, leading to the rapid growth of skin cells, known as follicular hyperproliferation. These dead skin cells accumulate within the follicle, which can block the oil gland and form the foundation for a future breakout.
  3. The bacterium Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) naturally reside deep within hair follicles and feeds on sebum. In individuals with acne, C. acnes populations escalate, triggering inflammation and contributing to the development of pimples. It is believed that disruption of the skin’s natural biome, mostly from the use of products that contain paraben preservatives, contributes to the overzealous growth of C. acnes.
  4. The interplay between excess sebum, dead skin cells, and C. acnes bacteria, as well as the development of biofilm culminates in an inflammatory response within the follicle. This inflammation leads to the characteristic redness, swelling, and pain associated with acne lesions.

While the factors mentioned above are central to acne development, other elements can play a role. These include:

  • Genetics and family history significantly impact an individual's susceptibility to acne.
  • Aside from puberty, hormonal fluctuations during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause can worsen acne.
  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids and oral contraceptives, can trigger or worsen acne.
  • While research is ongoing, studies suggest a link between high-glycaemic index foods and dairy consumption with acne development.
  • Chronic stress can worsen existing acne by increasing cortisol levels, which can stimulate sebum production and inflammation.

Types of acne

Acne manifests in various forms, each with distinct characteristics and potential causes:

  • Non-inflammatory acne:
    • Comedonal acne: This type is characterised by the presence of blackheads and whiteheads, which are clogged pores filled with sebum and dead skin cells.
    • Minor acne: This includes small, non-inflammatory papules and pustules.
  • Inflammatory acne:
    • Papulopustular acne: This is the most common type of acne, characterized by inflamed papules (red bumps) and pustules (white-headed bumps filled with pus).
    • Nodular acne: This type features deeper, painful nodules that can leave scars.
    • Cystic acne: The most severe form, cystic acne involves large, pus-filled cysts located deep within the skin, often resulting in scarring.
  • Other types:
    • Hormonal acne: often flares during menstrual cycles or pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations.
    • Fungal acne: this rare form is caused by a type of yeast, Malassezia, and presents as small, white bumps that do not respond to traditional acne treatments.
    • Adult acne: affects individuals beyond their teenage years and can be linked to hormonal changes, stress, or certain medications.
    • Body acne: acne can also occur on the chest, back, shoulders, and buttocks, often due to similar triggers as facial acne.

Beyond the face: acne on the body

Acne on the body, although less common than facial acne, can cause significant distress and requires specific management approaches. This type of acne often involves larger, deeper nodules and cysts compared to facial acne and can be more resistant to treatment. It is crucial to seek professional guidance for effective management of body acne, as self-treatment can worsen the condition and lead to scarring.

Treatment options

Acne treatment depends on its severity and type. Common options include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) products: These contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid to reduce inflammation and clear clogged pores.
  • Prescription medications: Topical medications like retinoids and antibiotics can be more effective for moderate to severe acne.
  • Oral medications: In severe cases, oral antibiotics, hormonal therapies, or isotretinoin (Accutane) may be prescribed.
  • Other therapies:
    • Light therapy: Blue light or red light therapy can target bacteria and reduce inflammation, but evidence is mixed and requires further research.
    • Chemical peels: These exfoliate skin layers to remove dead cells and improve texture but require professional administration and carry potential risks. Beneficial for the treatment of cystic acne especially when combined with GF2.
    • Extractions: For professional removal of blackheads and whiteheads, consider extractions by a dermatologist, but be cautious of post-inflammatory pigmentation risks.

Recommendation

No matter the type of acne you are dealing with our recommendation is the addition of our Skin Series GF2 products to your daily routine morning and evening. Mist the spray onto your face and any areas of the body of concern. The active ingredient, our non-toxic hypochlorous acid, firstly destroys the C. acnes bacteria while also normalising skin cell function and oil production, reducing redness & inflammation, and minimising pain. It will also reduce your risk of infection and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and scarring from active acne. We also recommend not to use any form of soap (bar of soap) but only a clear gel cleanser to wash the face and body. Soap is an alkaline substance, and this severely disrupts the skin’s biome.

Remember, acne treatment is a journey, not a quick fix. Finding the right approach may involve trial and error. Be patient, consistent, and communicate openly with your dermatologist.

While not a direct cure, healthy lifestyle choices like a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management can contribute to managing acne.

Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional or dermatologist for personalised diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

 

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