No one wants to wake up the morning before a big interview or client meeting, roll out of bed, toddle down the hallway, and squint at the mirror . . . . only to find out your face has been taken over by a big acne breakout!
Now you're kicking yourself for not washing your face before you went to bed after that late night out doing paint and sip for your girlfriend's birthday. Now you're scrambling trying to find a remedy or a coverup for the red, swollen, blotchy pimples that are dotting your face. Not today!
Relax and don't stress. Easier said than done, we know. But believe us, stressing is almost guaranteed to make your acne worse. More on that later.
How Does Acne Form?
Acne is the skin condition responsible for pimples and breakouts, which can manifest as whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, and papules. As sebum is produced by sebaceous glands, it travels up through your pores, along with dead skin cells, to be washed away. Sometimes the gland produces too much sebum, which can clog the pore, forming a plug. As the pore is clogged with sebum, oil, and bacteria, the bacteria can multiply, leading to an infection, swelling, and inflammation around the clogged pore. Sometimes you'll notice a white tip of purulent discharge (pus).
Things like hormonal imbalances, traveling, genetics, and medications can all play a role in the development of acne. The good news is that these types of breakouts are normally temporary. There are things that you can do to help speed up their disappearance.
Are Stress and Acne Connected?
Emotional stress won't necessarily trigger a new case of acne, but it could worsen symptoms of a current breakout. According to Lisa A. Garner, MD, FAAD, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, "When you already have acne and you get into a stressful situation, that seems to be when your acne really flares up."
The cells that produce sebum have receptors for stress hormones. Somehow, these sebum-producing cells are stoked to produce more sebum when you are upset or worried. On a good day, sebum helps to protect your skin. When too much is produced, it mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria to clog hair follicles, leading to acne.
So while de-stressing isn't necessarily going to cure your current breakout, it can help to keep you from being your own worst enemy.
Fighting Back Against Acne
The first rule of thumb to follow, and maybe the most difficult, is don't squeeze your pimples. This can make them worse, causing the infected pus to spread infection. Apply acne treatment products twice a day; when you wake up and before bedtime. Utilize the help of medicated products to clear up zits. They may take a little bit of time to work but will help to prevent any new pimples from forming. You'll want to stay away from any products that contain oils. They'll only serve to further clog your pores.
Take these steps now to help curb your breakout and prevent it from getting any worse:
- Incorporate a comprehensive skin care routine that can help to soothe acneic skin and clarify congested pores while helping to prevent new blemishes. Calming probiotics can help to reduce inflammation, help to strengthen the skin barrier, and visibly improve skin texture. Clean your face twice daily with a foaming cleanser that contains salicylic acid. This should help to clear current blemishes and keep more from popping up. Gently rub your face for at least one minute. The cleansing will help to rid your skin of all the dirt, oil and make up- the grime that could lead to more clogged pores. Apply a non-comedogenic, oil-free moisturizer (even if you're prone to oily skin) like GLOWBIOTICS Probiotic Clarifying Lotion.
- You may also use a lotion in the evening after you wash your face containing glycolic acid, which will help to fight the breakouts and get rid of dead skin cells. It's a powerful exfoliant, clearing away the debris like dead skin cells that can clog your pores and lead to blackheads and whiteheads.
- Don't stress! Stress hormones like cortisol lead to a variety of skin problems and contribute to inflammation, worsening and prolonging a breakout. So find ways to de-stress yourself on a regular basis. Put on some relaxing music, take a bubble bath, and have a glass of wine . . . or whatever you like to relax with! Meditation and yoga are great, too. Plan to get plenty of sleep! Boost your circulation by exercising regularly, which can ease inflammation. It can also reduce your stress levels.
- Make sure your diet is varied and balanced, paying special attention to taking in plenty of inflammation-fighting antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids. Help the good bacteria in your gut by incorporating foods and drinks naturally rich in probiotics like yogurt, paired with prebiotics like bananas, onions, and garlic to feed the bacteria. If you're not getting enough naturally, take a good quality probiotic supplement. Learn which foods to avoid. Foods that contribute to increased inflammation usually have a high glycemic index like sugary foods, white bread, and pasta. Dairy products and red meats can contain hormones that promote pimples, so avoid ingesting too many of those.
- If you are still really having trouble fighting back against acne, your dermatologist may recommend a benzoyl peroxide cream. It's a good addition to a long-term acne treatment plan, since it does its best work when used continuously.
Armed with a little knowledge and a plan, you can fight back against acne!