Skin conditions - Acne

What is Acne?

It is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the sebaceous glands, caused by multiple factors. When the pores become clogged with sebum (oil), dead skin cells, and bacteria it can cause an eruption. Other factors known are hormonal changes and genetics. If your mother or father had acne there is a high chance you may inherit the condition. Hormonal levels often change due to stress, monthly cycle and sometimes medications. When there is a fluctuation in hormonal levels the body can produce an abundance of oil in the skin which the skin is not used to having and acne begins to happen. The combination of the oil and dead skin cells shedding is thrown off it's normal cycle and the cells become sticky and get stuck inside the pore. In addition to this process, what begins to happen is this environment of dead skin cells and oil, P. Acnes bacteria begins to breed.

The types of lesions are as follows:

Microcomedone or Whiteheads

The pore with trapped dead cells and oil can form a plug in the pore called a "microcomedone." This process forms all of the following lesions. 
Some people don't get inflamed pimples and they are called whiteheads or "closed comedone." This type of acne is under the skin and has no opening. 

The other non inflammatory acne is called a blackhead or "open comedone." The tip of the pore is open and changes to a dark color by oxygen getting in. Usually they do not hurt and just sit there until the body recognizes the foreign matter and sends white blood cells to attack it, to get rid of it.

Pimple / Papule / Pustules

This is where you begin to see redness, swelling, puss and a painful bump appears. Sometimes the buildup of dead skin cells/oil begins to put pressure and the pore can rupture. The contents of the pore the leak into the surrounding areas of the skin causing for the spread of the P. Acne Bacteria, ending up with spreading the acne further. This is known as the all mighty "PIMPLE!" also called the inflammatory papule. These pimples can turn into infected lesions which are now called Pustules. 

Nodule / Cyst

The last type of acne lesion is called the Nodule/Cyst. These are usually larger, deeper and are very painful. They sometimes will remain under the skin for weeks at a time, even before the become pus-filled lesion, and sometimes they don't. Scarring is common with this type of acne, but scarring can occur with all types. Especially when you are picking at them...


NOTE: You DO NOT need to pop a pus-filled pimple to make it heal. Let them heal on their own, if you try popping them you can spread the bacteria causing new lesions to form and create a exasperated condition making clearing even tougher.

The Most Important Fact to Know About Acne!

Acne is a disease; to date there is NO CURE! However it can be CONTROLLED!

The Three Elements of Acne:

  1. Oil production.
  2. Shedding and renewal of dead skin cells.
  3. Bacteria on and inside of the pores.

There are many ways to attack these elements but finding the right combination of products, ingredients, and how to use them is key to successfully controlling acne.

About Internal Medications:

Accutane is the only method that has been proven to beat even the most severe cases of acne. However, I believe it should be the last resort because of its many side effects. I support the use of Accutane because it can save a life.

Antibiotics can be useful in controlling acne, especially when someone is going thru puberty acne. It can help to control and stop scarring until one passes thru puberty. The drawback is that antibiotics can be hard to take and long use of them makes us immune to them.

Things to Know about Treating Acne:

Fact: There are no simple acne treatments. They just don't exist!

When you are ready to commit, put in the effort, because it is NOT an easy thing to do, doing the work it takes to gain control over acne is key to success, and of course the right products.

Is it normal to be RED, IRRITATED & PEELING?

Treating Acne can often lead to red, irritated, and flaky skin. This is one of the toughest parts of treating acne. There really isn't any other way to do it. However, it is a TEMPORARY THING and you decide how fast to go, so you can tolerate it much easier. There is no way possible to know ahead of time how someone will respond to a product. It's important to let the skin adjust to the products, so as time goes by there are less and less side effects. It's not a fun thing to go through but the process almost always requires the peeling of the skin to open up the clogged pores. You can do the process slowly and have fewer side effects, but then it can take a lot longer to get acne under control. Having these kinds of side effects are very normal. These mild side effects are not an allergic reaction. Listen to what your skin is telling you and adjust your regimen. Stop for a few days if you need too and then re-introduce things at a much slower pace.

If you think your having an allergic reaction call your doctor or 911 ASAP.

Misconception about treating acne:

Once your clear doesn't mean you're cured and can stop doing your regimen. You must maintain the regimen to keep control over the acne. Sometimes you can back off a bit, but listening to what your skin is telling you is important. There is no way to know how long it will be before the acne runs its course. There will come a day when the acne will stop, we just don't know how long any one person will suffer.

Treating acne is no simple task and can be a small investment.

There are many elements and ways to deal with acne. It can be overwhelming at first, but being committed will get you there. It's not an easy process and cutting corners won't get you there or the results you want. 

Acne can be controlled by specific product ingredients. Different types of acne use different kinds of ingredients. It is essential to know what ingredient is good for what type of acne you have; and how to use the products correctly. I have seen this happen over and over, knowing what, why, and how will help you determine the right fit.

There are two kinds of products, products that maintain our skin and products that change our skin. You cannot control acne without using products that change your skin. It's not enough to find and use products with these specific ingredients. Another aspect is you must also be sure that products with certain ingredients are formulated properly so they can do what they say they do. You may find Over The Counter (OTC) products with these certain ingredients but added pore clogging or aggravating ingredients could worsen or impede the active ingredient. As to eliminate any question about this I highly recommend the professional products that I have personally worked with for years and have rave results.

There are no ONE-FITS-ALL acne treatments. This is why Acne Kits Don't Work on everybody. There are many types of acne. Some people may have one kind and others may have many kinds. Acne regimens are not a one size fits all, that's why a lot of OTC or acne kits don't work. Everyone has a different skin type such as oily or dry. In addition, some skin can tolerate products more or less.

All Products are NOT created EQUAL.

I am asked a lot for recommendations for over the counter (OTC) products to save money. However, when using professional products you use less and they more effective. In the long run you can actually save money I admit there are some ok OTC products. The truth is it's complicated. I have never seen an OTC product work as effectively as a professional product. What I want for my clients is effective products that do the job they were intended to do. To give my clients the results they want. It's difficult to do that with OTC products. I truly believe you get what you pay for. I find a lot of consumers trust in the advertising and marketing of products. Do not ever put anything on your skin without checking the ingredients first, even if it says "won't clog pores" or "noncomedogenic" on the bottle. We can waste so much time and effort jumping around from product to product. What I find and it boggles my mind, is that most of the time none of the products my clients currently using have any benefit in helping their acne. The desperation we feel over our acne I can relate too. Don't fall for another advisement or bottle that said it was for acne and would do ABC. Or the sales lady at the make-up store, that said this was great for acne. Sales personnel quite frankly are not very qualified to help you with skin care issues; they are qualified to sale you products for their pay check. You must also remember to be sure that products with certain ingredients are formulated properly so they are effective. Not all products are alike. There are so many OTC products popping up every day it starts to become overwhelming.

Factors that can Effect Acne: 

Stress, Hormones, and Nutrition

One of the key elements to dealing with your acne is understanding how Stress, Hormones, and Nutrition can affect your acne condition.

The number one reason acne can come on is the vast fluctuation of our hormonal levels.
Example: One day your totally fine clear as day, not one pimple. Then you have a traumatic event in your life, or anything that begins to stress the body in a way it has not been effected before. In the simplest way to explain this: The body's natural oil production, shedding of the dead skin cells is thrown off balance. When we have hormonal fluctuations we tend to have surges of oil in which the skin is not ready for, thus getting stuck. The body recognizes the problem and goes to attack it to get rid of it and boom here comes the inflamed red pimple. The pimples that are not inflamed have not been recognized by the body yet, so they just sit there and sit there. (known as white heads and black heads). When we start to get these lesions on the skin, we stress out even more! More imbalances Yikes! What most people do in this circumstance is to go and get an acne wash or treatment of some sort. Not knowing what they end up doing is dehydrating the skin so badly that the skin starts to produce more oil! Now, you're causing the lesions to spread even worse. Now you're really stressed out, (more oily surges)! The vicious cycle continues. Now throw bacteria on the surface of the skin and in the pores and like magic we have a full blow break out. Now we have pus and we pop, pick and prod...Guess what you're doing now? Spreading the bacteria all over so you have more new lesions.

How to deal with hormonal fluctuations? Don't freak out when you break out! The best thing you can do for yourself first is stay calm (as much as possible). When the body has hormonal fluctuations what I have found is to do something physical to calm yourself and exhaust the body to calm down...Release that stress will help like no other. Unfortunately for WOMEN, we have our monthly cycle that causes hormonal fluctuations and we can't change that, but we can be aware and be preventative.

Below are some great ways to relieve stress:
Exercise (Any Kind) Recreational breaks Good sleeping habits Meditation Laughter Jumping Jacks Reduced consumption of stimulants (such as caffeine) Get enough rest and reduce your stress. Stress stimulates the adrenal gland and in the acne-prone individual, the adrenal gland promotes oil production which leads to clogged pores.

Nutrition and Acne: There is no scientific proof that food causes acne! What we do know is that food can have an effect on acne. There are some things to avoid and not always do these affect everybody. Eating a well-balanced healthy diet that includes plenty of water is recommended for overall good health.

Foods to be aware of and avoid:

Do your best to stay away from foods, vitamin supplements and sports drinks/bars containing iodides. Iodized salt, seafood, fish, seaweed, fast foods and dairy products. Beware of KELP in vitamin supplements. Contrary to popular notion, chocolate and greasy foods (unless they contain salt, which most do) do not aggravate acne.

Stay away from peanuts, peanut oil, peanut butter, corn oil, wheat germ, shellfish, and organ meats. These may contain hormones that exacerbate acne.

Other Tips to Help Acne:

Don't pick. Do your best not to pick. I challenge my clients, when you're dying to pop that pimple just wait 24 more hours and watch what happens. It will dry up and scab and within a few days disappear and the best part is it won't leave a mark for 6 months. 

Try taking some zinc start with 50mg and up to 100mg research suggests that it is probably best to take no more than 100 mg per day as a dietary supplement. It has been shown to be useful in treating acne. Some research has found zinc to be as effective as antibiotics in reducing inflamed acne. It is usually best to take zinc with food. (excessive zinc intake may lead to deficiencies in other vitamins and minerals).

Sometimes Using fragrance-free detergents can help to minimize irritation. Do not use fabric softeners and/or fabric softener sheets in the dryer, especially on pillowcases as they cause a waxy residue that can clog pores on acne-prone individuals. Change pillow cases often and flip your pillow over, use the other side and then try not to sleep on it again.

Certain birth control pills can help maintain acne. Talk to your OBGYN about this. Also, the taking of birth control pills may delay the onset of acne and once off them, you may experience the acne you would've had before taking them.

Limit sun exposure and use a sunscreen. Although sun exposure causes desirable scaling and drying, it also damages the follicle, exacerbates hyper pigmentation, causes skin cancer and premature aging and can cause "solar acne" later in life, as well as "Acne Majorca" also caused by sunlight. Warm climates with heat and humidity can exacerbate acne.

Make Up Beware: Check your cosmetics and/or hair products for pore clogging ingredients; Here are a few common bad ingredients: Isopropyl myristate, cetyl alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, laureth-4, natural Vitamin E, most natural oils, cocoa butter and D & C red dyes all agitate acne.
Benzoyl Peroxide medications found at cosmetic departments may contain isopropyl myristate and laureth-4, oils or other ingredients, that impede the active ingredient of benzoyl peroxide.

Retin A medications also from your Dermatologist! Can contain one of the most offensive pore clogging ingredient: Isopropyl myristate.

Watch out for "oil-free" products. They contain synthetic oils (fatty acids), D&C red dyes and detergents that can aggravate acne. See my complete list of offensive ingredients:

Cornstarch (also called Zea Mays or corn starch) and rice starch. Starch obtained from corn and sometimes used as an absorbent in cosmetics instead of talc. However, when cornstarch becomes moist, it can promote fungal and bacterial growth, causing acne to get worse.

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