ACNE at any age?!
Pimples, zits, spots, breakouts - let’s be honest we hear these words used interchangeably all the time, and guess what it is all Acne in one way or another, so let’s talk about it all.
The most common and most talked about skin condition but what actually is it ?
It is a chronic (on-going or recurring) inflammatory skin condition affecting the hair follicle and sebaceous gland (oil gland), whereby there is an expansion and blockage of the follicle and inflammation can occur as a result. There are several variants of acne, and many features but the main one is the spots, some people may not label their spots as acne because they don’t believe it is severe enough to called that but in fact there a varying degrees of acne and it does not have to be severe to be classed as acne, there is such a thing as mild acne.
Who can get it?
Acne can affect anyone of any age of all races and ethnicities. It is more prevalent in teenagers and young adults with around 85-90% of 16-18 year olds being affected by the condition. However, while most common in teenagers it doesn’t mean that it can’t present in children and adults of all ages.
Acne is a multifactorial condition - meaning there are many elements that can contribute to it from genetics to lifestyle, gut health & diet, as well as hormones...
What causes Acne?
There are only a few areas on the human body that don’t grow hair, that mainly being the palms of our hands and soles of our feet. everywhere else though, where there is hair, there is oil and that is all thanks to our pilosebaceous unit. Every hair follicle is accompanied by a sebaceous gland (oil gland).
The job of the sebaceous glands is to produce sebum or our oil that then lubricates and protects or waterproofs our hair and skin. The glands are hugely sensitive to certain hormone levels in the blood, androgen hormones like testosterone can increase sebum product whilst the hormone oestrogen can inhibit sebum production.
Now I know most of you reading this will see testosterone as a male hormone, but it is important to know that women actually produce testosterone, typically just not as much as a male does. This is why we see some with a condition like PCOS for example having more oily and acne prone skin as they produce a higher amount of androgens.
Here is an image of the pilosebaceous
(‘pilo’ = latin for hair and ‘sebaceous’ = from the latin word for tallow) unit - which is the complete system for the hair follicle and sebaceous gland along with a few other appendages not shown. Our skin cells (keratinocytes) also lay resident inside this unit and produce the tough protective protein known as keratin (which is the protein that makes up the majority of our hair, skin and nails).
Acne can occur when there are problems surrounding this structure:
Too much or too thick of oil is being produced
Our oil is getting mixed up with the skin cells and or keratin, blocking the narrow opening of the pore
What are the feature of ACNE?
Acne is most confined to the face, however it can involve the neck, chest and back.
It can be characterised by:
open and closed un-inflamed comedones (blackheads and whiteheads)
inflamed papules and pustules (red, yellowy heads)
in more severe acne, nodules and pseudocysts
Post-inflammatory erythematous or pigmented macules and scars (the red/purple marks that can be left after a breakout clears)
How to treat acne?
The cosmetic industry and the marketing world has certainly created a buzz and a hue market around everything and anything that promises to clear breakout, spots & pimples.
So how would you go about treating your acne?
Our no.1 tip is to do your research into your very individual type and cause of acne + find the right people to support you on your journey!
To give you some insight to how we, here at SANA Skin clinic treat acne...
It ALWAYS starts off with a very in depth consultation process around anything and everything that gives us clues to the root cause(s).
For the clients that can come into the clinic in person we also take diagnostic images that allow us to analysis way beyond what you can see in the mirror. It gives us insights to your general skin health, skin type, skin happiness level, oil flow & quality of oil flow, underlaying pigmentation...
For our online clients, the consultation process is even more extensive so we can start putting the pieces of the puzzle together and offer advise.
We then work with the client and their level of commitment on a treatment plan. This almost always includes our in clinic Naturopath for internal investigation, testing and support.
We have a look at best suited skin care routines and regular supportive in clinic treatments.
As each client and their skin is unique we don't have blanket approach or general advice to offer, but if you are interested in working with us - you can book a complementary discovery session or if you are ready to jump in, book our Advanced skin analysis (in person or online).
Words of encouragement
We know from personal and professional experience how much of an impact acne can have on a persons life, don't be discouraged if you feel like you have tried everything. Sometimes it is just about connecting the pieces of the puzzle and have the right support in your corner.