Dealing with acne can be devastating, especially as an adult. You feel embarrassed that you even have to contend with every God-forbidden breakout. You feel silly scouring the Internet at night trying to find a quick fix for your latest blemish. You break out the old-school remedies (toothpaste, anyone?) Unfortunately for myself and many people I know, the norm is now dealing with acne. I managed to make it through puberty unscathed but it has come back in a major way.
At one point, I didn’t think my face would come up for air. I literally had a new blemish every.single.day. Which led to another scar, and another set of weeks waiting for the scars to fade. At that point, juggling between new skin care products failed me. My dermatologist often stared at me with concern, trying to understand what the issue was. So what do you do when the doctors are stumped and medicine just doesn’t work? You binge on all the sugar and chocolate you want. No really, you take inventory of your mood, behavior and habits, which are likely the culprit.
I’ve talked before in previous blog posts about how what I eat is very closely linked to breakouts and eczema. However, that understanding didn’t come overnight. I didn’t figure out everything that was affecting me overnight, either. It took time, patience, and intention. In fact, it really has taken me years to figure out what my body can stand and what it rejects. This has definitely morphed over time. I also know that my skin issues are unique to me; that’s why it’s important to know your body for yourself and take your own inventory. Below you can download a free inventory to give you a start to understand why you’re breaking out and how to resolve it.
Below are the 3 major behaviors or circumstances that are affecting your skin health:
I remember as a teenager all of the pamphlets that claimed chocolate and soda did not affect my acne. It always confused me because I knew when I drank more soda my face would mysteriously get a new bump. It seemed like common sense to me, but doctors always refuted it. Now there is more and more research connecting an unhealthy diet to acne. High fat and sugar diets lead to intestinal permeability, which is associated with several autoimmune diseases and acne. Intestinal permeability describes the control of material passing from inside the gastrointestinal tract through the cells that line the gut wall. The intestines have a barrier that keep harmful substances from migrating to other parts of the body. Intestinal permeability leads to oxidative stress. Studies have shown that people with acne have significant systemic inflammation and oxidative stress. See the connection? High fat and sugar diet lead to intestinal permeability which leads to oxidative stress and then acne. Foods with a high glycemic load (carbohydrates and sugars) also can spike up your blood sugar which stimulate more oil production that lead to clogged pores. The bottom line is that cutting out processed foods, high-fat and high-sugar foods lessen your chance of acne.
Are you a recovering face picker? Are you obsessed with touching your face? Or maybe you constantly talk on your phone and sleep on old pillowcases. It’s clear that environmental factors also affect your acne. This is behavioral and completely controllable. There’s even a type of acne related to it. Acne Mechanica is a form of acne that comes from increased pressure, heat, friction or rubbing of the skin. This typically happens with people who play sports with tight, synthetic materials that don’t allow their skin to breathe.The same can happen if you use your phone a lot and allow dirt to get trapped on certain spots on your face.
There are definitely ways our own behaviors sabotage our skin. How we wash our face, what products we expose our face to, and our general habits all play a part here. How we attempt to treat our skin can also have impacts. Exfoliating too much or using a product that burns can cause more damage to your skin. Of course this differs for each person, because we all have our genetic makeup and our skin reacts differently. Here are a couple of general thoughts to keep in mind:
- Wash your face each day (don’t sleep in makeup)
- Don’t use products that dry out your skin
- Moisturize (even if you have oily skin!)
- Exfoliate gently and regularly
- Use sunscreen and avoid excess time directly in the sun
- Don’t overwhelm your face with lots of products
- Stop touching your face, silly
Acne, though it seems like a shallow problem to have, has led to increased suicide and depression in teenagers and adults. Your self-esteem takes a major blow when you feel like you can’t put your best face forward. So we know acne causes mental issues, but mental issues may also cause acne. When we are stressed, the nerve endings in our skin release neuropeptides, which stimulate the sebaceous glands and cause them to produce more oil, creating an environment for bacteria to grow. Also when you are stressed, the hormone cortisol is released as a response to our stressful situations. Cortisol depresses our immune cells and slows down this process of healing. The more stress you’re exposed to, the more suppressed your immune system becomes and the healing process is delayed. Stress and worry also cause us to crave the wrong things. Just as I just said, eating a diet high in these foods can cause a spike in hormone levels which is thought to stimulate more oil production and worsen any current acne issues you may be dealing with.
The key takeaway from all of is this that there are multiple pathways to a bump on your face. I always thought that all bumps were the same and all bumps happened for the same reason. However, when the one-size-fits-all solution didn’t work, it forced me to realize that there were multiple factors at play with my acne issues. Hopefully this inventory will help point you in the right direction. If it does, drop a comment and let me know how it worked for you.
Sources:Follow my blog with Bloglovin
- June 12, 2016
- Tiffany A