Acne is one of the most visible ways that stress often manifests itself. Although stress doesn’t directly cause acne or breakout, it does act as a trigger for the factors that contribute to the development of a breakout. This happens due to stress causing higher levels of cortisol hormone that can increase inflammation and sebum production in the skin. Sebum production increases secretion of additional oils and inflammation which will clog the pores and lead to the development of bacteria and further inflammation. The mental well-being is often reflected first on the skin. Acne can be of 3 types:
- A white head
- A blackhead
- A pimple (sometimes has a puss filled white top)
A simple way of dealing with acne is through dietary change:
There are several types of food that worsen acne and should be avoided by any acne patient.
- Food rich in refined carbohydrates may increase blood sugar and insulin levels and contribute to the development of acne.
- Fast foods
- Omega-6 fats in food: soy oil and corn. Diets low in omega-3 and rich in omega-6 are pro-inflammatory and may worsen the acne.
- Dairy products: Milk is known to increase insulin levels which may worsen acne severity.
- Chocolate: Eating chocolate increases the reactivity of the immune system to acne-causing bacteria.
There are other, much healthier options that keep the skin clear. For example:
Omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon and walnuts), green tea, vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, and Zinc), and antioxidants. Probiotics, like in kombucha and pickles also reduce inflammation of the skin.
Topical medications for acne:
- Topical retinol: These come as a cream, gel and lotion. Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and include tretinoin (Retin-A) and adapalene (Differin).
- Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid works by dissolving excess oil and gently exfoliating the dead skin cells, it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Topical antibiotics: Reduce redness and inflammation, and can be used in conjunction with retinoids.
- Benzoyl peroxide: Is an antibacterial ingredient.
- Glycolic acids: Exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells that can clog pores.
Topical treatments are used to treat mild acne, for moderate to severe cases of acne, the following treatments are prescribed:
- Oral antibiotics: Reduce bacteria and inflammation.
- Isotretinoin: Is a type of oral retinoid, used for severe forms of acne like nodular, pustules acne. However, this treatment can have some side effects as well.
- Anti-androgen agent: The drug spironolactone could be prescribed if the oral antibiotics aren’t helping. It works by blocking the effort of androgen hormones on the sebaceous glands.
There are also several therapies that can be used alone or in combination with other medications: Lasers and photodynamic therapy, chemical peel, steroid injection, and extractions of whiteheads and blackheads.
Overall, the acne treatment required varies from person to person. It depends on numerous dietary and habitual practices.
Aster Clinic, Arabian Ranches & Aster Beauty Clinic, Warqa