What Causes Acne?

While diet (dairy and sugar), hormones (androgens) and stress play a role in acne, there are three distinct causes of acne:

  • Oil glands produce oil that contains acne causing components. Hormones affect oil production.

  • The pores (hair follicles) become clogged with dead skin cells, oil, dirt, sunscreen and makeup. Clogged pores are called “comedones”. Products that do not clog pores are called “noncomedogenic”.

  • The bacteria that causes acne (C. acnes) results in clogged pores, inflammation and redness.

How to Treat Acne?

There are a variety of acne treatments that can be mixed and matched to address your unique skin. Your acne will get better much faster if you use an acne skin care routine personalized for your skin type.  

Decrease oil production- No topical products can decrease oil production.  Use of a foaming cleanser can remove excess oil from the skin, while salicylic acid cleansers and toners can penetrate through the oil to clean out pores. Oral medications such as oral contraceptives, spironolactone and isotretinoin (Accutane) can decrease oil production. Stress relieving activities and adequate sleep can decrease oil production by stabilizing hormone (cortisol) levels.

Clear clogged pores- Salicylic acid (SA) cleans out clogged pores by removing the dead skin cells and sebum. Retinoids regulate the process of cells flaking off the skin helping to prevent clogging of the pores.  Benzoyl peroxide kills acne causing bacteria that cause clogged pores. 

These skin care products to clear clogged pores can lead to dryness and flaking of the skin but are an important part of acne treatment.  It may be necessary to skip 1-3 days of these pore unclogging skin care products if the skin becomes dry and irritated. Avoid use of hair products and any facial products or bath oils that contain acne causing ingredients such as isopropyl myristate and coconut oil.  Wash face after rinsing off hair conditioners. The face should be washed thoroughly at night to remove all sweat, dirt, oil and makeup from the skin.

Decrease bacteria- Oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, benzoyl peroxide (BP), silver and blue light have all been shown to decrease skin bacteria.  The bacteria that causes acne reproduces every 18 hours, so an antibacterial acne treatment should be used twice a day.

What is the Best Skin Care Routine for Acne?

Knowing your Baumann Skin Type is the best way to get a personalized skin care routine to treat acne properly. Follow the instructions exactly every day.  Your acne should improve in 8 weeks.  If you do not see improvement, find a STS approved medical provider to help you get your acne under control.

Your medical provider will customize an acne treatment for you, but it is important to realize that the acne cycle is about 8 weeks- so any acne treatment will take 8 weeks to work. Your acne may seem to get worse in the first month, which many people refer to as skin purging. The skin purge occurs because the retinoids are speeding up the acne cycle and bringing pimples that you would have gotten anyway to the surface of the skin.

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