When it comes to acne, let's just say we get welcomed to the real world where we learn that life is all about taking the good with the bad. In both boys and girls, it comes with adulthood...or should I say the hormonal changes that begin to occur between the ages of 10 and 13. Isn't it ironic that, just when we realize that the other sex exists and want to look our best, we start looking our worst. And that's what I mean when I say, acne welcomes us to the real world where we learn that we have to take a little bad with every good.
First, know that acne affects both girls and boys.
Unfortunately, boys are going to have more severe breakouts earlier than girls.
The other side of the coin is that girls will typically experience acne later
but female acne can last longer than in boys, sometimes into their 20s, 30s and
even 40s. Suffice to say that it's all linked to hormonal changes in the body
that occur at puberty. With the onset of puberty comes the onset of androgen
hormones which, in addition to making us begin to recognize the girl or boy
next door, also makes our natural sebaceous glands go into hyper-drive.
Our bodies are covered with pores and thus with
sebaceous glands that are located deep within each pore. Some pores have hair
follicles and others do not but either way, these glands work to produce sebum,
an oil that keeps skin soft and moist. As the skin renews itself, old skin
cells die and are shed off and, under the best circumstances, this happens
evenly and gradually, making way for fresh new skin. It would be nice if we all
shed dead skin cells in a layer but the fact of the matter is that some people
shed skin unevenly and as a result, dead cells that don't sluff off mix with
sebum and clump together to form a sticky plug in the pore. This plug traps oil
and bacteria inside the pore and a blemish begins to form. So, contrary to
popular myth, acne is not caused by eating chocolate, greasy foods or bad
hygiene. It is simply caused by growing up.
In years past, acne was a thing to be
ashamed of and consequently, pimples were routinely "popped" and picked at with
the results of the first producing deeper and more infected tissue and the
latter leading to the scars that we bear today. Thankfully, with the laid-back
tenor of today's youth, kids just "deal with it". They don't let acne define
them seeming to know who they are goes beyond the condition of their skin. In
increasing numbers, today's teens acknowledge the problem, take whatever action
they can to deal with it, and then get on with what really matters in their
life...like skateboarding! In fact, Hollywood has helped out alot by
incorporating this youthful problem into their series so when one of our
current teen stars has a breakout in real life, it becomes part of the script
and I think this really helps the non-Hollywood teenager to deal more
effectively with the peer pressure of acne.
So now that you know where acne comes from and that
there's really nothing you can do to eliminate it, let's talk about what I and
other dermatologists that treat Hollywood actors do to treat it and lessen the
severity of outbreaks. The first rule is, because dirt doesn't cause acne,
don't over wash your face or body or use harsh scrubs. Two gentle washings a
day is sufficient. Anything more can leave healthy skin dry and irritated,
triggering the glands to produce even more oil with the result being even more
"zits". Second, don't use alcohol-based products. Even though people think they
understand that a blemish is an infection in the pore and alcohol can
"sanitize" the area and kill the bacteria that is causing the blemish, alcohol
merely strips the top layer of the skin causing dryness and irritation. Topical
alcohol can't penetrate to the infection through the plugged pore. What it can
do is prompt excess oil production and thus more blemishes.
Because blemishes are caused by dead
skin cells that haven't sluffed off, exfoliation about twice a month is the
best preventive treatment we use to lessen the chance of infection. Keeping the
skin clear of "foliage" like dead skin cells keeps pores open and thus the oil
flowing. As you might imagine, on the set cosmetics affect greatly the chances
of clogging a pore so it's extremely important that the right chemical
composition of cosmetic is used and then completely removed at the end of the
production day. It serves no benefit at all to exfoliate and cleanse the skin
and then load it up the next morning with animal fat-based and
chemical-derivative cosmetics that, because of their chemical composition,
invade the skin through the pores and then cling to the sides evading the
removal process at the end of the production day. I can not overstress the
importance of using good, solid, natural, balanced cosmetics on the skin to
lessen the chances and severity of acne at any age. Remember, acne is most
prevalent in youth but pores and sebaceous glands are forever. In fact, it is
these sebaceous glands that keep our skin looking and feeling softer, more
supple and younger as we age. We need to take care of them and not use anything
that can clog the openings no matter what our age is.
No matter what the age is, it's always important to
Beware of Sweat. Working out heats up the
body and perspiration makes the skin an even more attractive environment for
acne bacteria to grow. An exercise program is an active part of a balanced day
for any Hollywood star defining their physical shape, physiological well-being
and their emotional state. So exercise appropriately but take a shower as soon
as possible after vigorous physical activity. Using the proper cleansing agent
to remove the perspiration and accumulated environmental debris that
accumulates during the workout, drying without rubbing the face after the
shower and finishing with a toner that finishes and tightens the skin goes a
long way to reducing the problems of skin blemishes at any age.
Finally, Beware the Remedies.
In the U.S. alone, more than $1.4 billon is spent on acne
medications and treatments each year both prescriptive and over-the-counter. In
most instances, the bulk of that $1.4 billion would be better spent on
chocolate ice cream because, whether it's prescriptive or non-prescriptive
medications, they yield less than satisfactory results and cause bothersome or
dangerous side effects. Further, most prescription medications such as
antibiotics require at least three months of continuous treatment before any
improvement can be expected. Often, a second, third or fourth cycle of therapy
For my patients, if there is an outbreak, I'll first
go with non-prescription acne cleansers, astringents, moisturizers and pimple
creams available through the companies that serve Hollywood's makeup artists.
Some help unplug whiteheads and blackheads while others help encourage the skin
to shed. It's important to use all products as directed. But I go with these
treatments only for 6-8 weeks. If there is no improvement in acne during that
time period, see a dermatologist to explore other treatment options.
The bottom line for the treatment of
acne, no matter the severity, no matter the age, is prevention. With the
average blemish taking 2-3 weeks to surface, the treatment you start today
won't show it's effects for 6-8 weeks. So the prescription is prevention.
Exfoliate with a professional exfoliation product that doesn't tear and cut at
the skin but rather polishes the dead skin cells off. Cleanse with a
professional agent designed for your particular type of skin. And finally use
only professional cosmetics like those used in the television and motion
picture environment. These products need to stay in place for a minimum of
12-16 hours a day, perform under extremely hot lights in an extremely harsh
environment and then come off cleanly without leaving a residue that clings to
the walls of the pores to causes infections to surface 2-3 weeks later. If the
products work for Hollywood stars, they should work well for you as well in
your fight against acne or other skin eruptions.
We recommend you visit Studio Direct Cosmetics for all your skin care and professional makeup needs.