Tips for Thought

No one is immune to getting a few pimples now and then. However, constant skin breakouts could be a sign of something serious regarding your health or habits. If you think you’re having some skin problems, here are some of the most causes of such issues.

What does “breaking out” mean?

Breaking out means when the skin pores become clogged with dead skin cells and oil. It’s prone to areas that have more oil glands compared to the rest.

Such an instance usually occurs when a hair follicle is filled with either dead skin cells, sebum, or bacteria. This process results in redness, swelling, and inflammation, where a person’s pores become clogged and slowly push their contents to the skin’s surface, hence “breaking out.”

If the pore is only clogged but has no inflammation, this is called a comedone. When the surface is closed, it’s considered a “whitehead,” whereas a comedone with a black plug is called a “blackhead.”

Pimples differ from white and blackheads and form when a plugged hair follicle contains bacteria. This presence of bacteria in the follicle leads to inflammation and redness.

Cystic acne differs when skin cells, oil, and bacteria are trapped within the pore. This formation can be painful and is usually felt underneath the skin’s surface.

What are some common causes of breakouts?

There are various causes of breakouts or acne breakouts. If you’re suddenly seeing acne form on your skin, here are some factors you may want to consider:

1. Stress.

Stress isn’t the leading cause of breakouts, although it can develop into one when it’s a constant occurrence.

When stressed, the body releases a hormone called corticotropin-releasing hormone or CRH. CRH promotes the production of oil, which can become excessive. When excess sebum is excreted, it risks intermingling with bacteria and thus resulting in breakouts.

2. Incompatible skin treatments.

Another cause of breakouts is incompatible skin treatments. Certain lotions and creams you’re currently using may not be compatible with your skin type, thus leading to breakouts as a side effect. If you suspect your products are causing most of your skin issues, switch to non-comedogenic products that are gentle on the pores.

Certain makeup products may also be to blame. Some culprits include oil-based makeup, silicone-rich products, and liquid foundations. If you want to wear makeup but don’t want to risk breaking out, check out some non-comedogenic products on Amazon. So far, the best liquid foundation available is Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint, which comes in various shades.

3. Current diet.

There are a lot of conflicting sources on whether foods can directly cause acne. However, high glycemic foods may trigger acne symptoms because they are usually highly processed.

Some examples of high glycemic foods are white bread, white rice, white pasta, and sugary beverages like sodas and fruit juice. Processed foods like breakfast cereals, chips, and baked goods can also worsen acne.

4. Dehydration

When the skin is dehydrated, it compensates by producing more sebum to help hydrate the skin. However, excess sebum can lead to clogging pores, leading to breakouts.

To avoid excess production of sebum, make it a habit to drink enough water every day so it can help keep the skin smooth, hydrated, and elastic.

5. Smoking

Aside from its harm to the lungs and heart, cigarette smoke can also affect the skin, which results in premature aging and acne.

According to researchers, smoking causes the latter due to its effects on the skin’s sebum production, resulting in clogged pores and acne.

6. Constantly touching your face.

Certain habits introduce bacteria to the skin without us knowing. Some examples include:

  • Constantly touching our faces with bare hands.
  • Pressing our phones against our skin.
  • Not removing one’s makeup before sleep.

Our hands, phones, and makeup are exposed to outside bacteria, which can irritate the skin when we make contact. While we can’t stop touching our faces, we can at least lessen such habits by washing our hands, using wet wipes, cleaning our phones regularly, and changing our pillowcases and bedsheets.

7. Lack of quality sleep.

Sleep is such an essential aspect of our health as it’s a state where our cells regenerate during our state of rest. Lack of quality sleep hours can affect this regeneration process and lead to stress, resulting in various effects like excess skin oil production and the need to consume unhealthy foods to give us that “pick me up” for the day.

8. Hormonal changes.

Hormonal changes like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fluctuations can cause breakouts due to their effects on the skin’s sebum production. While men can also have hormonal acne, women seem more affected by it due to menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause. For young women, breaking out may be expected when they’re closer to their period and usually clears after their hormonal levels return to normal.

What can I do to treat breakouts?

It’s not uncommon to find that a mixture of these causes can lead to some intense breakout. If you suspect that more than one of these causes contribute to your acne, here are some handy tips to do:

1. Find time to relax.

Stress leads to multiple health issues, including breakouts and skin problems. If you’ve been stressed lately, consider incorporating stress-management techniques into your daily routine by taking breaks, limiting your time on social media, and managing your time wisely. You can also try some tried-and-true methods like meditation, journaling, or going for a spa day.

2. Use appropriate skin products.

If you’re considering switching to a new skincare or makeup product, test such product first before making a purchase.

To do so, apply a small piece of the product on the back of your hand. If you see some redness within a few minutes, switch to hypoallergenic, gentle options on the skin.

3. Lessen your consumption of processed foods.

Processed foods can lead to many issues, including affecting one’s skin and weight. If you’ve been constantly consuming processed snacks lately, consider switching to a healthier diet with less processed food sources like fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meat, and whole grains.

4. Drink more water.

Water is essential, especially during the summer when excess heat exposure can affect your body from the inside out. Whether at work or home, remember to take occasional sips of water to hydrate your body. You can make drinking water more enjoyable by purchasing colorful personal tumblers to keep your water cold for hours!

5. Stop smoking.

Quitting smoking can be the best decision you’ve made in your life. While it may be hard to quit cold turkey immediately, consider tapering your number of cigarettes daily until you no longer need it.

Other ways to help stop smoking are to use nicotine patches, visit a professional therapist who helps undo this habit, and find healthier stress-management techniques.

6. Avoid constantly touching your face.

Many people constantly touch their faces for a variety of reasons. If you have long hair, try tying it back with silk scrunchies so your strands aren’t damaged.

Other solutions include regularly washing your hands, cleaning your phones, and changing your bedsheets regularly. For the latter, you can use silk bed sheets that are naturally hypoallergenic, breathable, and gentle for your skin and hair.

7. Sleep enough hours.

Sleeping is essential for everyone’s health, so getting enough is imperative. Whether you work dayshift or nightshift, getting enough is necessary to feel well-rested and energized.

To get high-quality sleep, dedicate an hour to turning off your devices and lights. Rest in bed and allow your mind to wander before you eventually drift off to bed.

8. Visit a doctor.

Sometimes, acne breakouts could be a tell-tale sign of something more serious. If you’ve been having issues with your hormonal levels or menstruation cycles, schedule a doctor’s appointment for treatment.

Takeaway: Having the occasional pimple is common, but intense breakouts could be an underlying sign that your health or lifestyle is affecting your skin. Considering countless breakout causes, it helps to tackle these possible causes individually and make a few lifestyle changes. If your breakouts haven’t changed much, you should also consult a doctor.