Have you ever asked, "Why do I have acne?" The answer isn't always straightforward. Many factors can lead to the development of acne, from genetics and hormones to bacteria and inflammation. But don't worry - plenty of treatments and supplements can help give you clearer skin. In this blog post, we'll look at what causes acne and how to treat it.
What is Acne Vulgaris?
Acne, also called acne vulgaris, is a skin disorder characterized by blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and deep lumps under the skin.
There are three levels of severity of acne:
- Mild Acne: few or no inflammatory lesions or both
- Moderate Acne: inflammation, both painful and nodular hard lesions, or a mix of the two types of lesions, as well as mild scarring.
- Severe Acne: any inflammatory acne that causes extensive inflammation, nodules, scarring, or psychological distress that has not improved after six months of treatment.
Acne forms on various parts of your body due to the presence of sebaceous glands. These are tiny oil-producing glands that react to hormonal changes. They are mostly found on your face, back, chest, neck, and upper arms.
Hormonal acne doesn't just pop up during puberty and then disappear–it can last well into adulthood or even a person's entire life. Not only that, but it can cause emotional distress leading to depression and social withdrawal. In severe cases, acne may also lead to permanent skin scarring.
Acne: What Causes It and How to Treat It
A variety of different factors cause acne development. Genetics play a role in determining whether or not someone will get acne, as those with a family history of acne are more likely to develop it themselves.
It's no secret that genetics play a role in determining our physical characteristics—including our skin type. If your parents or other family members have had acne, you may be more likely to experience acne yourself due to your genetic makeup. Fortunately, many treatments are available for those with a genetic predisposition toward acne.
Hormonal fluctuations are also thought to be responsible for causing an overproduction of sebum from the sebaceous glands—the glands responsible for producing oil on the skin's surface. This excess oil can lead to clogged pores and bacteria buildup, triggering an inflammatory response that leads to breakouts and blemishes. Treatments such as topical creams and hormonal medications may help reduce inflammation and minimize breakouts caused by hormone fluctuations.
Did You Know?
Women can also get adult acne when they are older because of changes in healthy hormone balance during pregnancy, before menopause, and when using birth control pills.
Another potential cause of acne growth is follicular hyperkeratinization, which occurs when dead skin cells build up inside hair follicles instead of being shed properly from the surface of your skin. This blockage can lead to whiteheads or blackheads forming in these follicles and eventually breaking open, resulting in painful pimples or cysts under the skin's surface. Exfoliating regularly can help prevent this buildup and keep pores clear, so they don't become blocked by excess dead cells or sebum production.
Bacterial colonization is another factor that can cause breakouts due to its ability to irritate and inflame the skin's surface area where bacteria has taken hold. Bacteria grow best in warm, wet environments—such as sweat glands. If you don't manage them with good hygiene practices like washing your face every night and using an antibacterial cleanser on areas where you have breakouts often, they can quickly get out of control.
Diet Tips to Help Clear Up Acne
If you suffer from regular breakouts, your diet might be to blame. Many people with acne must realize that what they consume is a major part of their skin health. Try following these dietary tips to help control acne and achieve radiant skin.
Did You Know?
Some people still argue that diet does not play as significant of a role in inflammation and acne as previously thought, but there is mounting evidence to suggest otherwise. In fact, certain dietary changes have been shown to improve the complexion significantly.
Eat Mostly Whole, Nutrient-Dense Foods
The key to great skin is eating whole, nutrient-dense foods that contain vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy cell regeneration and cell turnover. This includes vegetables, lean proteins such as fish or chicken, healthy fats like olive oil or avocado, and complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or quinoa. Eating various foods will help ensure your body gets all the essential nutrients it needs for optimal function.
Try Cutting Out Dairy and Whey Protein
Dairy products are one of the most common triggers for acne symptoms. Dairy contains hormones that can disrupt the balance of hormones in your body, leading to breakouts. It may be worth cutting dairy from your diet if you struggle with hormonal acne. Many people who struggle with the appearance of acne also find that cutting out whey protein helps reduce breakouts.
Eat for Optimal Blood Sugar Control
Eating meals high in sugar and processed carbohydrates can cause an increase in blood sugar levels, leading to inflammation in the body—including your skin. To prevent this from happening, opt for low glycemic index foods like nuts, oats, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, which will keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day and reduce inflammation in your body.
To Eat or Not to Eat?
Studies have shown that processed foods, dairy products, and sugary snacks and drinks may be linked to acne flare-ups and worsen its symptoms. So, it's best to stick with whole, nutritious foods.
Foods and Beverages to Enjoy
- Vegetables: Various vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, kale, peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, carrots and beets.
- Fruit: There are many types of fruits that you can enjoy, including berries, grapefruit, oranges, apples, cherries, bananas, pears, grapes and peaches.
- Whole grains and starchy vegetables: Sweet potato, quinoa, butternut squash, farro, brown rice, oats, and buckwheat are just a few delicious grains you can enjoy.
- Healthy fats: Some good sources of healthy fats include whole eggs, olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, nut butter, and coconut oil.
- Plant-based dairy alternatives: There are many types of dairy-free milk, including but not limited to cashew milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and coconut yogurt.
- High-quality protein: tofu, chicken, salmon, eggs, turkey, shellfish, etc.
- Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, black beans, etc.
- Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices: Power spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, parsley, garlic, ginger and cayenne can vastly improve your skin health.
- Unsweetened beverages: water, sparkling water, green tea, hibiscus tea, lemon tea, and water.
Foods and Beverages to Avoid
Avoid dairy products, refined foods, and high-sugar foods and beverages.
- Milk and dairy products: many dairy products, including milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Highly processed foods: processed foods like fast food, frozen meals, meal bars, sugary cereals, chips, microwave meals
- Sweets and sugary beverages: sugary foods such as candy, cake, cookies, and table sugar can cause energy drinks, sports drinks, and juice to become sweetened.
How Supplements Can Help Treat Acne
Studies have shown that adding specific vitamins, minerals, and other substances to your diet may help reduce acne. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with acne, the right combination of vitamins and minerals could be just what you need to clear up those pesky blemishes. Let's explore how different kinds of supplements can help treat acne:
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common causes of breakouts, which can increase sebum production (the oily substance that clogs pores). Taking a daily supplement containing vitamin D can help reduce sebum production and lead to clearer skin. Additionally, vitamin D has been linked to better overall health and stronger bones, making it an essential part of any healthy lifestyle.
Green Tea Extracts for Acne Treatment
Green tea is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it great for reducing redness and swelling due to acne lesions. It also contains antioxidants that can help fight bacteria on the skin and prevent future breakouts from occurring. You can take green tea extract in capsule form or drink it as tea; it's sure to boost your skin!
Aloe Vera to Soothe Acne
Aloe vera is a great way to soothe skin irritated due to frequent breakouts. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce redness and swelling, while its moisturizing properties keep the skin hydrated and prevent future breakouts from occurring.
Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins for healthy skin and can be taken in pill form or applied topically as a gel or cream. Vitamin A helps reduce inflammation in the skin, which is an important factor in treating acne. Additionally, it helps keep pores clear by removing excess sebum from the skin's surface. Vitamin A also helps promote cell turnover, allowing new cells to replace old ones more quickly and efficiently.
Zinc is another supplement that can help treat skin issues. Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and swelling associated with skin inflammation and breakouts. Additionally, it helps regulate hormones in your body, contributing to fewer breakouts overall. While zinc is available in pill form, it can also be found in various foods like eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds if you prefer not to take supplements directly.
Vitamin E is another supplement that can have beneficial effects on acne-prone skin. Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that can help protect against environmental damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to inflammation and breakouts on the skin's surface. Vitamin E also helps keep skin hydrated by locking in moisture and preventing dryness which could potentially cause irritation or flareups on already sensitive areas of the face or body.
Acne is a complex condition with multiple components that all combine to form an unwanted breakout on your face or body. Each person will have different triggers for their acne flareups depending on their stress levels, makeup and lifestyle habits, which could also be contributing factors. To help manage your acne, you can start with a healthy diet, regular exercise and plenty of rest. Adding supplements to your routine specifically targeting acne can also be beneficial in reducing flare-ups and getting clearer skin.