To fight acne (also acne vulgaris), it needs unfortunately a little patience. But if you deal with the risk factors, you can get rid of pimples in the long run. Here you can find all the important information on the subject, such as what influence diet, cosmetic products and stress can have on the skin and what can help acutely and permanently against acne.
What is acne?
Acne or acne vulgaris (common acne) is the most common skin condition among teenagers and young adults. Why this age group in particular is predestined for pimples? The reason is hormonal changes: During puberty, male sex hormones are increasingly produced – also in girls.
The hormones cause the sebaceous glands of the skin to produce more fat or. produce sebum. Sebum has the function of protecting the skin and keeping it supple – but if the sebaceous glands become clogged due to overproduction, blackheads can result. These can become inflamed, resulting in pimples or painful inflammatory nodules. Because of this, acne occurs mainly where there are many sebaceous glands: On the face, shoulders, back and chest.
acne can be mild, moderate and severe in severity
Mild acne: Closed (white) or open (black) blackheads appear (comedones) especially on the forehead, nose, and chin. The black discoloration is not dirt, but a reaction product of the skin pigment melanin with the oxygen in the air. With this mild form of acne, no or only a few pimples appear.
Moderate acne: If, in addition to blackheads, there are also significantly more acne pimples, the acne is classified as "moderate". Usually not only the face is affected, but also the upper body. Pimples can appear as inflammatory nodules on the skin ("papules") or as pus-filled blisters ("pustules").
Severe acneIf the acne is severe, many of the papules and pustules will form. Painful, severely inflamed nodules of the skin are typical of this form of progression. Purulent abscesses can also form from these nodules. After they have healed, pronounced acne scars may remain.
How common is acne?
Many teenagers develop blackheads and pimples during puberty. However, most people have only mild skin changes. Moderate to severe acne affects 15 to 30 out of every 100 teenagers. Boys develop the skin disease significantly more often than girls.
What helps against acne?
The best news beforehand: acne in adolescents is usually a matter of time. At the age of about 20, acne often disappears on its own because the hormone balance has stabilized. Only about one tenth of those affected have acne after the age of 25. Persist beyond the age of 18. There are countless recommendations for dealing with acne, many of which do not bring the desired success. These tips can help manage the skin condition:
Acne has nothing to do with lack of hygiene, but it does play an important role in what skin care products are used. Washing lotions with a ph value of 5.5 (ph-neutral) help to maintain the natural skin environment. Normal soaps have a ph of eight or higher and should be avoided.
Also beware of ointments containing fat: they can clog the pores of the skin and aggravate acne. It is better to use light oil-in-water emulsions (lotions) or moisture-retaining gels (hydrogels). Skin care products that have been tested to not clog pores are usually labeled "non-comedogenic".
Sun protection: Since acne skin is often inflamed and therefore particularly sensitive, it is especially important to protect it from harmful UV radiation. Also, when it comes to sun protection, one should use fat-free, non-comedogenic preparations.
Care routine: Do not overly stress the skin: The following also applies to skin care: less is usually more. The skin should not be approached too strongly with cleansing and care products, in order not to irritate it additionally.
Cleansing out: Do not squeeze pimples! It is especially important not to squeeze acne pimples yourself. Pus can get even deeper into the skin this way. To increase the inflammation.
There is still no clear evidence on the extent to which a certain diet can influence acne. However, many patients report an improved skin appearance when they abstain from certain foods. These include certain carbohydrates (including sugar, white bread, potatoes, among others).
Some people have also observed that chocolate, milk or alcohol consumption have an unfavorable effect on their skin condition.
– It is therefore important to observe for yourself how your skin reacts to certain foods. This requires patience, because the skin does not respond immediately to dietary changes. The good thing is: a wholesome, balanced and low-sugar diet and abstaining from alcohol are healthy not only for the skin but for the whole organism.
Stress can cause acne to worsen. Relaxation exercises such as yoga, tai chi or meditation can effectively help to reduce psychological stress, become more relaxed and thus also improve the skin's appearance. To reduce stress, it is also important to get enough sleep.
Sport has numerous positive effects – also on acne. Because endurance exercise reduces cortisol levels in the blood and relieves stress. In addition, sport promotes blood circulation to the skin. Make-up should be removed before sports and showered directly after sports, as dried sweat can additionally clog the pores.
While the direct link between smoking and acne is not clearly established, some studies suggest that smoking can have an unfavorable effect on existing acne. It is not only worthwhile for the sake of the skin, but in any case to give up smoking.
If acne does not improve sufficiently with skin care and lifestyle measures, see a dermatologist
Various medications can be used to treat acne – a dermatologist will advise on individual options. However, those affected need patience. All measures show their full effectiveness only after a few weeks or months. In the case of severe acne in particular, a dermatologist should be consulted at an early stage, as proper medical treatment can also reduce the risk of later scarring.
How acne affects the psyche?
Especially during puberty, many adolescents are not yet consolidated enough to deal with acne confidently. No matter how severe the pimples are, young people can feel unattractive and ashamed with the skin disease. If they are bullied because of their skin problems, the psychological burden increases even more significantly.
An analysis of the patient registry in the British Journal of Dermatology, picked up in a New York Times article, found: Especially in the first year of treatment, the risk of depression is increased in acne patients.
If depression is suspected, a doctor or psychological psychotherapist should be consulted for clarification.
Young people should also be aware that they themselves are not to blame for their acne. The disease has nothing to do with a lack of hygiene or poor diet. In addition, it is not contagious.