How to treat acne by addressing its 4 main causes

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Anyone who has struggled with acne knows how difficult it can be to treat it. When product after product fails, it’s easy to get discouraged. To increase your chances of success, Elizabeth Kream, MD, says to make sure you cover the four main causes of acne.

“The big thing about acne that’s important to appreciate is that there are a ton of different arms that cause it,” says Dr. Kream. “If you can get there with the idea that there are four main causes, you can use a combination of alternative treatments and traditional treatments, as well as over-the-counter and prescription treatments to fix it. I’m all for it. to combine things.”

Dr. Kream explains that the four main causes of acne are abnormal keratinization, bacteria, increased inflammation, hormones, and oil (more on that below). “If you can think of it that way and try to incorporate a few things that will satisfy or help all of those things, you’ll have a really good diet,” she says. It’s important to cover all your bases because every button is different.

“Each follicle in our body is placed on us individually and differently,” Purvisha Patel, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare, previously said Well+Good. “Acne is a micro-infection of the follicles or pores, so each button can be different in its own way from its neighbor and your neighbor.” Find out how to treat acne below.

Learn How To Treat Acne By Addressing These 4 Main Causes

1. Abnormal keratinization

Dr. Kream says that one of the main causes of acne is abnormal keratinization, which occurs when skin cells become sticky and retain excess dead cells, leading to clogged pores.

“As skin cells mature, instead of just exfoliating in the environment [the way they’re supposed to], in acne lesions, they like to build up and clog pores,” says Dr. Kream. To combat this, you’ll want to kick your skin into a more normalized natural exfoliation cycle.

Enter: retinoids, which Dr. Kream says are the best solution for abnormal keratinization. These vitamin A derivatives work by stimulating cell turnover, bringing fresh, healthy cells to the surface of the skin to replace dead cells that clog pores. “It’s going to help normalize the skin cycle,” says Dr. Kream. “Skin cells don’t clog that pore. Instead, they cycle a bit faster and exfoliate well.” You can use an over-the-counter retinoid, such as retinol, or a prescription retinoid. like tretinoin. Talk to a board-certified dermatologist to get the best option for your skin (and your wallet).

AlphaRet Night Cream 30 ml — $130.00

Dr. Kream uses prescription tretinoin on her own skin, but if she had to use an over-the-counter retinoid, it would be this one from AlphaRet. It’s a cream that mixes retinol with an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) to rejuvenate the skin with minimal, if any, irritation.

2. Oil and Hormones

Acne often forms when oil (otherwise called sebum) gets trapped under dirt, grime, or dead skin cells, which is why excess oil is so often linked to breakouts. And most of the time, says Dr. Kream, that excess oil is directly related to your hormones.

“Increased sebum production, or oil production, is usually due to hormones,” she explains. This is because the glands that create oil and sebum have hormone receptors. “Often, if someone comes to us for adult female acne, we can prescribe spironolactone, which is a pill taken by mouth that has anti-genetic properties, meaning it helps reduce bad estrogen and testosterone that cause acne.”

Supplements like DIM or diindolylmethane can also help if you don’t want to take hormones. DIM is derived from broccoli, kale, cauliflower and has been shown to have anti-androgenetic properties. “This anti-androgenetic property is what will help decrease this hormonal component that stimulates oil production.” Just be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement. Diet can also impact oil production. Eat these cruciferous vegetables and “avoid eating foods high in trans fats,” says Dr. Kream.

Jane Iredale Skin Accumax Twin Pack

Jane Iredale Skin Accumax Double Pack – $115.00

This supplement from Jane Iredale contains DIM, vitamin A to help pores clear bacteria, vitamin C to protect against stressors and boost collagen production, and vitamin E to prevent signs of premature aging and fight free radical damage. For best results, take four capsules daily with food for at least 14 weeks. If you are satisfied with the results, you can reduce the dose to two per day. One bottle contains 120 capsules.

3. Bacteria

Propionibacterium acnes, or P. Acne, is also a major cause of acne.

“P. Acne is a bacteria that lives on everyone’s skin, but it likes to grow especially in acne lesions because it feeds on this oil,” says Dr. Kream. “There is proliferation and dysregulation of P. acnes in acne lesions.”

To manage bacteria, Dr. Kream advises starting with a face wash that contains benzoyl peroxide. “Benzoyl peroxide can help a lot in reducing P. acnes,” she says. This particular beta hydroxy acid crystallizes down to a very small size and is able to penetrate deep into your pores to remove grime from within. It also helps remove dead skin cells that clog pores on your skin’s surface.

Depending on your situation, Dr. Kream says some dermatologists may also prescribe a topical antibiotic. “Also, if we want to encourage good bacteria and normalize things, some dermatologists support the idea of ​​taking probiotics. Taking a probiotic to help encourage the normalization of good bacteria can help.”

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask

Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask — $12.00

It’s Dr. Kream’s benzoyl peroxide cleanser. Use it like any other facial cleanser to keep your skin clean every day. or, use it as a deep cleansing mask, rubbing in a thin layer and letting it sit for five minutes.

ZitSticka Skin Discipline

ZitSticka Skin Discipline – $44.00

This supplement from ZitSticka contains a blend of five prebiotics along with skin-friendly vitamins and minerals like zinc (to regulate oil production), niacin (to reduce inflammation), and pantothenic acid (to support collagen production). Take one capsule each morning, with or without food. One bottle contains a 30 day supply.

4. Increased Inflammation

When your pores get clogged with oil, bacteria, and skin debris, inflammatory cells rush in to try and help the situation, which is why pimples tend to flare up. “Inflammatory cells are needed to do things like fight infections. However, in conditions like acne, they’re overactive,” says Dr. Kream. “These inflammatory cells trigger an inflammatory response that gives acne lesions their characteristic red, angry appearance.”

To treat inflammation, Dr. Kream says your best topical bet is, again, a retinoid. “Retinoids not only help keratinization, but they also have anti-inflammatory effects“, she says. Other than that, she says adopting an anti-inflammatory diet is super helpful.

“Eating lots of highly processed foods, like white bread and sugar, can increase inflammation,” says Dr. Kream. “For anti-inflammation, you can also consider supplementing with green tea or spearmint tea. Both of these contain antioxidants, which can be great for fighting inflammation.”

Learn more about adult acne:

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