Keeping Adult Acne Under Control: Answers to 5 Questions You Need to Know
If you’re dealing with acne well into your 20’s or 30’s or even 40’s, you’re not alone. And I’m sure you also have a laundry list of questions… probably starting with why me? I know it’s easier said than done but don’t worry. The clear skin you want is absolutely achievable, but it starts with being informed and working with your dermatologists to get the best regimen together for you. So, we’ve got answers to some of those questions that I’m sure are floating in your head.
WHY AM I DEALING WITH ACNE AS AN ADULT?
SO WHY DO WE GET IT?
IS ACNE MORE PREVALENT IN SKIN OF COLOR?
HOW DO I GET RID OF IT?
Usually, the skin cells that line the hair follicle shed and are brought to the skin’s surface by the sebum. When these dead skin cells don’t shed at the proper rate, they tend to stick together with the help of excess keratin, a natural protein found in the skin. This causes the follicle to be plugged/blogged or clogs the oil duct, leading to acne.
- Increased sebum production
Our bodies naturally produce sebum or oils to lubricate our hair and skin. It made up of a combination of fats, lipid, wax, and squalene. Oil production is very normal, but people with acne-prone skin tend to produce more sebum, which happens to be an ideal breeding ground for overgrowth of the bacteria known to cause acne, P. acnes
- Excess P. acnes
For the record, P. acnes found on the surface of our skin and in most cases causes no problem. In fact, certain strains of this bacteria help to protect our skin from being colonized by other bugs that can cause infections, etc. However, in an environment of increased sebum, clogged pores (which means limited access to oxygen), P. acnes flourishes (and not in a right way).
- Inflammatory response
The overgrowth of P. acnes causes the body to release white blood cells to fight the bacteria, which cause the inflammation associated with acne. This is what is called an inflammatory response. Dr. Simela adds that research shows that this elevated inflammatory response may be a significant reason why African Americans with mild to moderate acne still develop hyperpigmentation.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO PREVENT OR KEEP MY BREAKOUTS UNDER CONTROL?
CHECK YOUR DIET. PASS ON THE SIMPLE SUGARS AND DAIRY.
While the debate around the actual relationship between diet and acne is still ongoing, what we do know is milk consumption and foods with a high glycemic index are associated with acne. Studies have shown that high glycemic index foods cause excess insulin levels, which leads to changes in the circulating hormones that contribute to acne. Additionally, consumption of dairy and milk proteins (i.e., whey) are known to increase insulin levels and other growth-stimulating hormones, all of which play a role in the effects of androgens and sebum production, and ultimately acne. So, if you’re looking for ways to keep breakouts under control, skip the dairy, pass on the simple sugars and sweets (which can be very hard to do), and opt for diets low in saturated fat and high in whole grains, fruit, and vegetables.