Understanding and Managing Acne

Understanding and Managing Acne

In support of Acne Awareness Month, this blog goes out to anyone dealing with acne, we see you. We know what a challenge it can be, and we’d like to make it clear that your skin does not define you. We also know it is not just about how you look on the outside, anybody who has lived with acne knows that it’s a physiologically painful condition. Pimples can really hurt especially when they’re cystic, deep, and putting pressure on the nerve endings, ouch. We wholeheartedly believe that we’re all more than just our skin, however, there’s no doubt that acne can affect confidence and that’s partly because there is still so much misinformation out there. Today we’re talking about what acne is, busting some acne myths and laying out our advice on where to start with managing acne.

Why do we get acne?

You might recall we’ve talked about rosacea on the blog before and mentioned it is a progressive condition: if there’s no intervention rosacea will only get worse. Acne, however, is not progressive – it comes but it can also go and stay away. So, when does acne stop and start? It might seem completely random, but triggers are usually hormone related or linked to stress (when we’re stressed, we release hormones which can cause a hormonal imbalance too). Acne is often cyclical – kicking in with your cycle if you're a menstruating person and other hormone fluctuations like puberty and perimenopause can also trigger acne. Surprisingly sometimes something as innocuous as starting to lift heavy weights can lead to testosterone flooding in the body and cause breakouts in testosterone related areas like beard pattern area, chest and back. This happens to all genders, but strangely, the body is trying to lubricate a big Viking beard that's just not there!

Why Does Acne Happen?

Let’s bust some myths!

Myth No.1 acne does NOT happen because the skin is dirty – acne is an inside out condition, so why does acne form? It comes about when there’s an excess production of oil in the skin. We all need enough oil in the skin to lubricate the hair that sits within our pores. It’s testosterone that drives oil production, so when hormones are imbalanced, with an excess of testosterone, the body will make too much oil. When combined with a build-up of dead skin which prevents the oil from getting out of the pore, a cyst, blemish, or whitehead will appear.

Myth No.2 acne is NOT caused by bacteria. As part of our natural microbiome, bacteria lives on our skin very happily and when in equal balance this is a key element of clear skin. C.ances bacteria (the bad guys) feed on oil in the skin so when there’s an oil build up, so when you have a whitehead, it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet for the bacteria! They get nice and big and energised, they thrive, they duplicate and then you have an infection which is when the whitehead turns yellow and dark.

We need oil in the skin so don’t run to remove ALL oil – that just leads to over-stripped skin, sensitivity, and a compromised barrier. We all want to know what causes acne and although we do know the underlying physical causes, the reasons for excess oil production can be highly specialised and personal to your body. The best acne treatment for you might well be very different to someone else’s solution, but don’t worry, we know where you need to start.

What To Do In 3 Steps

We believe in a multiple pronged approach to managing acne treatment, so start by having consultations with as many experts as you can. Your job is to build a picture of why you have acne at this time and to look at all the different ways you can manage it. Acne is a big deal, and it can be helpful to empower yourself with information.

What options do you have?

Step #1

Medicine – It can be a godsend when needed, contact your GP and you may be referred to a dermatologist.

Step #2

Whether you go down the medicinal route or not, good quality skincare is essential. Even if your medical professional tells you to use no active skincare ingredients during a medicinal course, you will still need a gentle cleanser that respects the skin barrier and a broad-spectrum physical sunscreen to protect the skin. No matter what route you choose, working with a professional is absolutely key when it comes to your skincare routine. Acne is a medical condition and can be diagnosed through a professional. You can also create a combination approach so you don't have to choose only skincare or medicine. You can do both and many of our AlumierMD pros are also GP's and Derms. Sometimes GPs not working in medical aesthetics aren't aware of the latest in medical grade skincare, but you can always see them AND one of our pros so you have a great tag team on your side.

Step #3

Bacterial management is a big element and as we’ve explained, you don’t want to just nuke ALL your bacteria as this leads to yet more problems. Acne self-care steps like changing your pillowcases more regularly, keeping your hands away from your face and doing extractions in a sterile way with tissues wrapped around your fingers will help. Your skin professional can help you with all this and more, including general lifestyle management and well-being practices, as well as advising you on your skincare routine. You might also want to consult a dietician and a hormone specialist; our advice is always to get serious about your skin and sit down with as many people as you need to build a picture of your needs and find the right route for you.

Everyone has to go on their own journey when it comes to acne, and we know how vulnerable it can make you feel. Our professionals are here to offer you advice, help and support. They are bound by a code of ethics - that means they will always be caring and help you to find the right crack team for your acne management plan. They’re a good place to start – find your skin pro here.

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