There are numerous causes of acne, and a recent study shows that people think the causes are anything from nutrition and hygiene to hormonal imbalances, lifestyle habits and pollution. It’s never just one thing, but can be a combination of various factors. It’s interesting that teenagers interviewed about acne treatments preferred a topical rather than systemic treatment option – perhaps as topical treatments involve action and may be seen as a quicker route to a cure. Let’s face it, a pimple is hard to hide, even with copious amounts of makeup and its removal is often deemed urgent. Over 80% of the teenagers questioned didn’t view acne as a disease, but rather as a normal phase in growing up.
Acne is often linked to teenagers and because they're at a vulnerable stage of life, with the physical and emotional changes that occur during adolescence, its psychological effects are important to consider. Acne is more than just a “bad hair day”, and even though it affects more than 80% of teens, it’s been linked to depression, poor self-esteem, social impairment and anxiety. It’s not just teenagers who are affected, either; one study reports that over 50% of women and around 42% of men are affected throughout their 20s and even later.
Acne’s prevalence doesn’t make it any less psychologically damaging to those who suffer from it. Although changing hormone levels can have an effect, it also isn’t something that always just goes away after a certain period of time. When it comes to teenagers, it often becomes the biggest issue on their agenda and getting help is essential. Seek professional help from a dermatologist, aesthetician and registered dietician or nutritionist to ensure the best possible all-round treatment for your skin.
Increasing numbers of women are experiencing breakouts way beyond their teens. Why is this happening and is it possible to escape this distressing condition? Acne is one of the most common skin disorders. The prime targets are teenagers (male and female) – over 90% of adolescents have some degree of acne. But in amongst the panicked youngsters wanting to rid their faces of blemishes before their matric dances, there’s a new group of people filling up dermatologists’ waiting rooms: pimply faced women in their late 20s, 30s, or even 40s.
If you have pimples and are over the age of 25, you have adult acne. Either the condition hasn’t cleared from when you were a teen (persistent acne) or you’re experiencing it now during your post-adolescent years for the first time (adult-onset). It’s been suggested that more and more women are being afflicted by acne and that up to 14% of adults experience breakouts.
WHY WON’T IT GO AWAY
Acne is highly individualised and as so many factors overlap, there’s nothing straightforward about its formation. You’re likely to hear conflicting stories about what causes pimples to erupt – even researchers aren’t certain as to acne’s exact triggers.
Genetic predisposition; unbalanced hormones, including excess androgens (male hormones); overzealous sebum production; and a build-up of bacteria have all been identified as important players in acne’s development. Polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that’s associated with infertility and several other health complaints, has acne as a symptom, so your doctor should check whether this is the culprit behind your skin troubles.
Stress: Our pressurised fast-paced lives may be spurring on the spread of adult acne. The hormones we secrete when chronically stressed, including androgens and cortisol, help acne thrive.
Food: Dairy, saturated fat, and high glycaemic index food have been implicated as acne aggravators. Rather eat low-fat, high-fibre, omega-3-rich food – and occasionally, dark chocolate. If you decide to cut down on dairy, remember to supplement with calcium.
Cosmetics: Some cosmetics cause or worsen acne – only use products that say “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic” to minimise the chance of blocked pores and bumps.
Because so many factors contribute to acne’s formation you need to take an integrative approach to its treatment, so look critically at every aspect of your lifestyle. If you have mild acne and don’t notice an improvement after eliminating all potential triggers, certain topical ointments, like those containing azeliac acid, retinoids and antimicrobial substances, may clear things up. And although you may feel tempted to squeeze your spots, keep your hands off as this can make them worse and increase the chance that they’ll scar.
PLEASE NOTE: Products are ranked in decreasing order of potency. Products listed nearer the top of any particular health need are the most effective and have the most scientific research to support their use in respect of such health need. Multiple products, one from each bullet (•) can be combined with products from other bullets for added effectiveness, if needed, since products from different bulleted lines have different mechanisms of action. However, where more than one product is listed within a particular bullet (•), then only one of these products should be used, since all products listed within the same bullet share an identical or similar pharmacology (mechanism of action) for that condition. This is because whenever a particular condition is treated via multiple different mechanisms of action, the result is generally improved effectiveness. However, when products are combined that work via exactly the same mechanism of action, then no extra benefit is obtained.