Acne Questions and Answers

Do you want to be acne free but find it difficult to achieve? This article will answer some common questions about skin care and pimples.

Q. Do greasy foods or chocolate cause acne?
A. No. Acne is caused by the body’s own overproduction of sebum, the oil in our skin. Hormones can contribute to oily skin which can encourage breakouts, and those same hormones can cause you to crave greasy, starchy foods and chocolate. So when you’re prone to breakouts, you’re also likely to be eating these foods.

Q. What causes a pimple?
A. Every pore on our body, except on the palms of our hands and bottoms of our feet, has a small hair growing from it. On our heads, arms, legs and torso, these hairs are large enough to fill the channel. But on our faces, neck and sometimes chest and back, the hairs are so fine that there is more space for sebum and dead skin cells to accumulate. This creates a clogged pore, the beginning of a pimple.

Q. What is the difference between a blackhead and a whitehead?
A. Both blackheads and whiteheads are pores that are clogged with sebum and old cells. If the top of the pore is closed, the blemish looks white. If it opens up, the sebum oxidizes and turns black.

Q. What causes red, swollen pimples?
A. Sometimes a clogged pore becomes irritated by a bacterium called P. acnes. This can cause inflammation, redness and pain.

Q. How can I control my breakouts?
A. The key to controlling breakouts is to have a preventative regimen that you stick to faithfully. If you are prone to acne, you need to treat your acne-prone areas regularly, even when you don’t currently have pimples. This breaks the cycle of breakouts by checking sebum overproduction, speeding up skin cell slough-off, and removing bacteria and dirt.

Q. What products should I use?
A. Pick a soap-free cleanser that is gentle enough to use twice a day without over-drying. Follow up with a benzoyl peroxide treatment once or twice a day to kill P. acnes bacteria and reduce inflammation. Some people find it helpful to use a product with salicylic acid once a day as well, either in their cleanser or in a separate product such as a toner or gel. Salicylic acid will improve skin cell turnover, and dry up excess sebum. If you find these two medications are not effective, try a sulfur acne treatment.

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