Acne is pervasive. It’s the most common skin disorder in the U.S., with between 40 and 50 million Americans — including millions of adults — currently affected. Nearly 85% of people will have acne at least once in their lives.
Yet some people are clearly more prone to acne than others, and different treatments work for different people. We put together this article to inform about and clarify the causes and treatments for acne.
What Causes Acne?
The most major cause of acne is a skin oil called sebum. While healthy skin has just the right amount of sebum, occasional triggers can cause excess sebum to be secreted. This leads to oily skin, and the extra oils, in turn, clog pores. Bacteria get trapped inside the clogged pores and begin to swell, causing the redness and bumps known as acne.
Besides genetics, a few factors can determine how much sebum a person’s skin makes. Periods of high stress are known to cause extra sebum and breakouts. Other factors such as hormones, like during puberty, and medications, like birth control, can cause the body to produce excess sebum and cause breakouts.
Physical contact plays a role, too. During the COVID pandemic, we observed widespread cases of “maskne” — acne that forms under a face mask. Masks, especially when used more than once without washing, can trap extra oils in the skin, clogging pores. We discovered that it is imperative for skin health to use a clean mask everyday.
How Can Acne Be Treated?
Acne can be mitigated, treated and prevented in a few ways. Some involve direct application of products to the skin; however, the best long-term solution is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Individuals with less stress, a healthy diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants and who regularly exercise have consistently been shown to have less acne.
For a shorter-term solution, though, products can certainly help. Ultimately, the goal of acne products is to unclog and clean pores. To accomplish this, we recommend beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) in particular, such as salicylic acid, the main active in our Salicylic Face & Body Wash and our Overnight Spot Treatment. BHAs are excellent at permeating pores and dissolving excess sebum, cleansing them and leaving skin refreshed. These products will surprise your patients with how quickly they work to erase breakouts.
We also recommend alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) for exfoliation. Like sebum, dead skin cells can clog pores and cause acne. AHAs can dissolve the dead skin and leave it acne-free. Glycolic acid, an AHA, is found in our Glycolic Gel & Pads, and both glycolic and salicylic acids are found in our Dual Action Toner & Pads. Both of these products can provide excellent and fast-acting acne relief.
Last, but not least, fortifying skin with nutrient and antioxidant serums can help repair the skin barrier and prevent irritation. We recommend our lightweight, hydrating Green Tea Antioxidant Serum and our rejuvenating Vita Soothe to keep skin nourished, soft, smooth and healthy.
Are you interested in providing more effective acne treatments for your patients? Check out our dermatologist-formulated Acne Products, specially crafted to reduce and eliminate breakouts.