It is not uncommon to experience acne well into adulthood. In fact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million people a year. Yet, how do you know if those bumps on your face are really rashes or just your normal skin texture? While many people think the two are interchangeable, there is a difference.
“Skin texture is defined by how smooth the skin’s surface looks and feels,” board-certified dermatologist Naana Boakye, MD, MPH, and founder of Bergen Dermatology, told POPSUGAR. “Increased skin surface roughness, superficial fine lines, dull/dry skin, skin redness, uneven pigment distribution and loss of elasticity can contribute to uneven skin texture.”
To better understand the difference between skin texture and acne, and how to treat it, we asked Dr. Boakye everything you need to know. Keep reading to find out.
What causes uneven skin texture?
Skin texture can be caused by a multitude of factors. “Skin texture changes due to intrinsic (genetic and aging) and extrinsic factors,” says Dr. Boakye. “There are also a number of environmental factors that come into play that also cause skin texture, such as exposure to UV rays, air pollution, and smoking.” Other factors that can influence your skin texture are your nutrition and psychological stressors.
These can lead to the creation of so-called “reactive oxygen species”, which are a type of unstable molecules that contain oxygen and easily react with other molecules in a cell. This can cause inflammation, which in turn can trigger collagen breakdown and increased hyperpigmentation, leading to increased changes in skin texture.
What is the difference between skin texture and acne?
The main difference between skin texture and acne is the root causes. Although skin texture is usually the result of the aforementioned factors, acne has a different etiology. “Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease that involves the pilosebaceous unit – the hair shaft, hair follicle, sebaceous gland, and erector pili muscle – which causes hair to stand on end when it contracts,” explains Boakye Dr. “There is an increase in sebum production, which gets trapped in the unit via hyperkeratinization (or a trapped pore). The pore then swells, and this eventually leads to inflammation.”
Although not all cases of acne are the same, bacteria are also a common factor involved in the pathogenesis of acne and can cause many symptoms that you may be more familiar with.
How to Treat Skin Texture for Acne
As you might expect, treating skin texture is significantly different from treating acne. However, chances are you already have the products needed to address skin texture in your skincare routine.
“Every skincare routine should contain cosmeceuticals containing antioxidants that help protect against exposure factors such as air pollution and UV rays,” says Dr. Boakye. “It’s also important to wear sunscreen that protects against ultraviolet and visible light. Hydrating the skin barrier is also essential to help reduce transepidermal water loss.”
One of Dr. Boakye’s favorite antioxidant serums is Pro-Aging Drops Skin Wellness Serum ($150) from his skincare line, Bergen Dermatology. “This serum contains antioxidants that help rejuvenate the skin,” says Dr. Boakye. “With niacinamide, bakuchiol and green tea polyphenols, with daily use, this product effectively improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and discoloration while smoothing surface texture and revealing a luminous and clear complexion.”
Although everyone’s skin texture can change with age, there are steps you can take to address it early on. Dr. Boakye also recommends Kinlo Protection and Recovery Duo ($33), as this line of sunscreen protects against UVA, UVB, and visible light and also helps reduce pollution-induced free radicals.
When it comes to treating acne, you must first identify the type of acne you have. Then you can focus on ingredients that have been proven to treat this type. “Salicylic acid, retinols/retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur agents are some of the key ingredients to look for in products,” says Dr. Boakye. “However, when it comes to acne, it’s best to see a dermatologist early to minimize scarring.”
Skin texture and acne are normal, so don’t be discouraged if you have either (or both). Part of the journey to effectively treating these issues is being able to correctly identify the condition in the first place. If you’ve come this far, take a deep breath – you’re already halfway there.
Image source: POPSUGAR Photography / Matthew Kelly