HOW DO BREAKOUTS FORM?
BLOCKED PORES Breakouts begin with a blocked hair follicle/pore. This is caused by dead skin cells building. Normally, the oil produced by the sebaceous gland travels up the hair shaft cleansing the skin’s pores of dead skin cells then combines with sweat on the surface of the skin to protect it from environmental irritants. But because the pore is blocked, the oil and dead skin cells build up underneath the surface of the skin and inside of the skin’s pores.
BACTERIAL GROWTH AND INFLAMMATION When acne-causing bacteria are present, they start to feed on the combination of oil and dead skin cells inside the pores of the skin, resulting in inflammation. As the sebaceous gland continues to produce oil, the bacteria continue to grow which causes an increase in inflammation and pressure on the skin’s blocked pore. Eventually, enough pressure builds up causing the skin’s pore to rupture, spilling bacteria and oil underneath the skin. The body’s response is to send white blood cells to the rescue. The white blood cells protect the body from bacterial infection by forming a puss-filled pimple. This means that if you attempt to pop a pimple or acne cyst you run the risk of spreading the puss further under the surface of the skin often resulting in more breakouts occurring.
HOW DO DIFFERENT FACTORS AFFECT ACNE?
HORMONES There’s a receptor on the sebaceous gland of the skin called the androgenic receptor. This receptor is activated by androgen, a hormone released by the body. The activation of the receptor sends a message to the skin telling it to produce oil, meaning the more androgens in your system, the more oil the skin is likely to produce. Androgens are released in high amounts during puberty and around that time of the month. Giving us the link between breakouts and hormones.
DIET What we eat can also increase the amount of oil our skin produces particularly dairy and refined sugars. Individuals with diets high in sugar and dairy products are likely to have increased levels of protein, giving us a link between diet, oil production, and breakouts. On the other hand, caffeinated drinks like coffee and many “energy drinks” as well as alcohol are very dehydrating to our skin and can often result in inflammation.
STRESS Stress also promotes inflammation. Inflammation combined with blocked pores, excess oil production, and bacterial growth can lead to a follicle rupture and acne breakouts.
THE ENVIRONMENT Finally, environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke or car fumes produce free radicals which can promote inflammation and can cause the oil on your skin to oxidize. This oxidization can create the perfect growing environment for acne-causing bacteria.
The best way to combat this acne-causing is to reduce your intake of refined sugars and dairy products, keep skin clean and moisturized (yes moisturized without it triggers the brain to produce more oil), and reduce lifestyle stresses, take a short walk, read a book quietly, meditate.