The Plain Truth About Acne

344What is acne?
In most cases, acne is an inherited disorder of the pores. Normal pores shed about one layer of dead skin cells per day inside the pore. The acne-prone pore sheds up to five layers of dead skin cells per day and the body just can't keep up with this level of exfoliation. The pores get clogged with dead skin cells, oil or sebum and create congestion under the skin creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. If bacteria are present, these clogged pores lead to inflammation, redness, and the formation of a microcomedone or pimple.

Not all acne lesions are created equal. Acne has many faces, but there are two main types. Non-inflamed and inflamed. Non-inflamed acne is a blackhead or whitehead. Inflamed acne occurs when a blackhead or whitehead erupts and irritates the follicle which causes redness, inflammation, pastules and/or pustules.

What causes acne?
There a lot of myths out there about what causes acne. The truth is, we don't really know what causes acne or an over-production of shedding skin cells. But, we can identify acne" triggers" and other factors that can contribute to the development of acne which include hormones, stress, medications, exercise, and cosmetics.

Myths demystified - The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

Do hormones cause breakouts?
This is not a myth, but requires a little clarification. It's not actually your hormones in general that cause the breakouts, it's the "imbalance" of hormones which can lead to lower estrogen levels and causes an increase of oil production. Some other factors that can contribute to the development of acne include stress, medications, exercise, and cosmetics.

Acne is caused by dirty skin.
This is absolutely not true. Acne starts deep within the pore, and is caused by excessive shedding of dead skin cells. This has nothing to do with dirt or oil on the surface of your skin. You can wash your face multiple times a day (which I don't recommend), and it won't stop acne from forming. Acne is a skin disorder. When your body is unable to slough off excessive shedding skin cells, they get trapped inside your pores and stir up trouble. That's why it is extremely important to use the right combination of products to penetrate the pores, increase exfoliation, and stop acne where it starts.

Eating too much chocolate, drinking soda, or eating french fries causes acne.
While these are all "acne triggers", they aren't the root cause of acne. As a matter of fact, it's not the food itself, but rather what's on/in the food. For instance, it's not the french fry that aggravates acne, it's the "salt" on the fries. A diet high in iodides (salt) can make acne worse. Once iodine enters the bloodstream, the excess is excreted through our oil glands. This irritates the pores causing inflammation and breakouts. Foods high in sugar, like chocolate and soda, are also known to cause inflammation within the pore. In general, taking care of your body by eating a healthy, nutritious diet will always result in better looking skin.

You will naturally outgrow acne
Maybe you will, maybe you won't. Unfortunately, there's no way to determine who will and who won't outgrow acne. The culprit here again, is hormones. Hormones continue to flow and fluctuate throughout life, and so do acne breakouts. The good news is, no matter what age, acne can be managed with the right home care products and professional acne treatments.

As an acne specialist and owner of Soule Skin Spa in Woodland Hills, CA, Cheryl specializes in adult and teen acne, non-traumatic chemical peels, and ethnic skincare.

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