Breakouts and acne are just some of life’s many yucky things. And it can strike anyone and at any point in your life (think adult acne, ugh!!)
Like weight loss, forever youth and ridiculous thigh gaps, the demand for effective zit treatment makes it a lucrative industry. In other words, I am in the wrong profession.
GENERAL SKINCARE TIPS
- Never use soap to wash your face.
- Use a gentle lower pH cleanser twice a day. I love Cetaphil. The lower pH minimizes skin irritation.
- Rinse with warm (not hot) water.
- Washing your face too many times will dry your skin, which worsens breakouts.
- Never aggressively scrub your face. Instead, massage with your fingertips.
- Water-based lotions, cosmetics, and hair products are less comedogenic than oil-based products. Make sure your skin care and cosmetic products are labeled noncomedogenic. Also see MAKEUP FOR HEALTHY SKIN
- Never pick at your zits. This is easier said than done. It will make scarring worse.
- Stick to your SKINCARE routine religiously.
MYTHS AND FACTS
Everyone from your roommate, colleague, grandmother to that concern woman washing her hand next to you in public restroom, has an anecdote or two about what causes skin breakouts. Here are what really do cause, or at least associated with breakouts:
- Soaps, detergents, and astringents that remove sebum from your skin.
- Scrubbing your skin too hard.
- Washing your face too many times.
- Turtlenecks, bra straps, shoulder pads, orthopedic casts, and sports helmets.
- Oil-based products eg. Lotions, cosmetics and hair products.
- Milk (particularly skim or low fat milk).
- No evidence that chocolate is a culprit (hallelujah!)
- Data on supplements like zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin A, and dietary fiber are limited. But since they are not harmful, why not?
- Stress. Whatever that means to you.
- High body mass index, especially in female.
WHERE DO I START?
- Get a comprehensive skin assessment. You can either DIY this yourself or get it from a dermatologist if your case is pretty severe.
- You need to figure out what you need treatment for.
- Treatment of acne is aimed at:
- Follicular hyperproliferation.
- Increased sebum production.
- Bacteria proliferation such as Cutibacterium(formerly Propionibacterium) acnes.
You need a good SKINCARE routine. If you follow the routine outlined in SKINCARE, it will take care of your occasional pain-in-the-derrière breakouts. You will, however, need to trial and error on different products to find what suits your skin.
- Topical retinoids (this is usually suggested by dermatologists).
- Benzoyl peroxide.
- Azelaic acid.
- Salicylic acid.
MILD TO MODERATE INFLAMMATORY ACNE
- Topical retinoid.
- Topical antibiotic + benzoyl peroxide combination (use in combination to reduce antibiotic resistance).
MODERATE TO SEVERE INFLAMMATORY ACNE
- Topical retinoid.
- Topical benzoyl peroxide and oral antibiotic.
- Hormonal therapy might be useful, especially if you have signs of hyperandrogenism.
SEVERE NODULAR ACNE
- Oral isotretinoin.
- Rather than stopping treatment once your acne has resolved, it is recommended that you continue on a maintenance therapy.
- Topical retinoids are effective for prevention of acne and therefore great for maintenance therapy.
Chin up sisters! We’ve all been there at some point, in some way, shape or form.