Zap zit and zoom! When acne acts up

You’ve scanned through your wardrobe for the perfect outfit. You have bought shoes that go with it. Your beautiful accessories are all waiting to zing up your look… and that’s precisely when that enthusiastic little zit pops up!

Acne. Teenage angst and beyond.

Zits, most commonly associated with those days of braces and pigtails, occasionally linger on into adulthood. Pointing an accusing finger at hormones and oily glands, they march on to mar more than just your day.

Pimples, spots or zits, pop up when the skin is afflicted by Acne Vulgaris – a skin condition that involves the oil glands. Acne is not dangerous but it can be painful in many ways. Worse, it can scar the skin as well as your emotional wellbeing and social confidence especially at a time when you need it most.

Like a bad movie series that insists on coming back with sequels, acne can recur when you’re well into adulthood. However, there’s a visible difference between teenage and adult acne. Teenage spots are most common on the oily T-zone (forehead, nose, chin and area circling the mouth). Adult-onset acne is usually seen on the cheeks, chin, jawline and neck, called the U-zone. It tends to be inflammatory, so while it may show up at fewer spots than teenage acne, adult acne occurs as hard, stubborn nodules, and takes longer to resolve.

Bacteria and oil. The troublesome twosome.

The root cause of acne is hormonal. At puberty, the oil glands located at the base of the hair follicles get stimulated by testosterone produced by the adrenal glands in both girls and boys. These oil glands then produce an oily liquid known as Sebum. The body has assigned sebum the job of carrying dead skin cells through the canals created by the hair follicles, to the pores on the surface of the skin. Basically, waste disposal.

However, at times the glands get overactive and this sticky sebum clogs up the pores. A traffic jam of sorts. Now, when the sebum continues to be pumped out in spite of the blocked exit, oil accumulates under the skin, as do the bacteria which feed on this oil. It’s a messy grid lock. And the only way out now is through an eruption on the surface – a pimple.

A vicious cycle begins. This pimple goes on to cause stress, which further imbalances the hormones, which then go on to produce even more oil which create even more blocks and subsequently even more pimples!

Hormonal changes occur later in life as well; and when they do, they bring along their old friend, acne. Which explains why outbreaks can occur at various stages – especially pregnancy or the premenstrual phases. Stress brings on acne too.

“What did I do wrong?”

Relax, by now you’re probably figured out that it’s not those yummy chocolates or the occasional fries that are responsible for the outbreak, contrary to all the well meaning advice that surrounds you at this time. So don’t stress about that. (Although it may help to to ease up on the grease if you are in the midst of an outbreak) The cause isn’t improper hygiene either. So there’s no need to wear down that wash cloth. Holding back on thick layers of make-up, however, could keep from clogging the pores and worsening the condition. And seeing a dermatologist is definitely a great idea and the way to go.

Breakouts vs breakthroughs

Acne may be a common issue, but it’s always been rather tricky, stubborn and elusive. That’s why dermatologists take it every bit as seriously as you would if you were suffering from it, and the quest for answers is an ever-evolving process. Acne and acne scar solutions consist of various interventions – from topical medications to peels to specialized laser applications that focus on rebuilding clear skin. The dermatologist will use a multi-pronged approach to make inroads into your specific condition. The acne outbreak will be addressed and further outbreaks will be halted. The uppermost layer of skin will be exfoliated to unclog the pores and release the dirt and bacteria trapped below. The superficial scars will be removed. Deeper down, the scarring and pitting will be tackled by deeper peels. And finally, the deepest layer of skin will be stimulated to regenerate fresh collagen and fill up any deep pits from within.

Trust that it’s perfectly clear now. With those zits all zapped, zip on and zoom up on everything life has to offer. You’ll soon forget you’ve ever had acne.

– By Kaya’s Expert Dermatologists


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