Acne Causes and Treatments
Everything you need to know about acne
Fighting acne can be a tiresome, long journey. With so many treatments available, it feels like you’ve been wrestling with acne forever and you’re constantly trying to find what works for you!
Do you relate?
In this article, we break down exactly what causes acne, the different types you may be experiencing and the best treatments to try. We also dive into how CBD may be the acne treatment you’ve been looking for!
What is Acne: Causes and Treatments
Acne Vulgaris is a common skin condition that primarily affects teenagers and young adults, however, it can affect people at any age. Acne occurs when the hair follicle becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells, creating what is called a comedo. Comedones (the plural) can cause bumps on the skin called blackheads and whiteheads. If you’ve had acne before you’ll know that it can cause redness, oily skin, spots and often be painful to touch. Although it commonly shows up on the face, it can also appear on the back and chest too.
There are a few various types of acne spots and some will need to be treated by a medical professional such as a dermatologist.
Types of acne spots:
You know acne causes pimples, but did you know there are different types? Knowing which type of acne spots you have will help determine the severity of your acne.
- Blackheads: a comedo that is open at the surface of the skin. Due to an irregular reflection of light from the clogged pores, it appears black.
- Whiteheads: a comedo that is closed at the surface and creates a white tip on the spot.
- Papules: When comedones become inflamed it creates small red, tender bumps which may be painful to touch.
- Pustules: Similar to papules and whiteheads but these have a red ring around the bump and pus at the tip.
- Nodules: Larger, firm bumps under the skin. They can be painful to touch and should be treated by a doctor or dermatologist. This is a sign of severe acne.
- Cysts: Painful, pus-filled bumps that have a similar appearance to boils. Cysts would also be considered severe acne.
Mild – According to WebMD acne is mild if you have less than 30 lesions in total. Mild acne can be treated with over the counter treatments.
Moderate – If you have between 30-125 total acne lesions you probably have moderate acne.
Severe – Someone with severe acne may experience multiple cysts and nodules. These are often painful to touch and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.
There are plenty over the counter acne treatments for mild to moderate acne, but moderate to severe acne should be treated using prescribed options.
Everything you Need to Know About Acne Causes and Treatments
Types of Acne
When addressing acne, most people refer to acne vulgaris. However, under the acne umbrella, there are multiple types of the condition. Determining which you have will aid your acne treatment because you can target the cause.
The difference between acne vulgaris and acne mechanica is the cause. While your ordinary acne stems from hormonal changes in the body, acne mechanic comes about from friction and a lack of air. Anything that exerts pressure onto the skin, traps in heat for a long time or rubs against your skin could cause acne mechanica.
Items that may restrict airflow and rub against your skin could include:
- Headbands, helmets and protective equipment
- Tight clothing, undergarments and bra straps
- Straps from bags and backpacks
Therefore it’s likely for athletes and students to experience this type of acne due to athletic clothing and heavy school bags.
Where possible wash straight after exercise and change out of your exercise clothing to avoid sweat getting trapped against your skin. Furthermore, if you can swap your backpack for a handheld bag, this will take the pressure off your skin, from heavy school books.
This is one of the more severe types of acne where cysts and nodules fuse together below the skin. It is an inflammatory skin disease and a type of nodulocystic acne. Unfortunately, it is difficult to control with over the counter medication so it is essential to see a skin expert.
Have you ever taken oral antibiotics for your acne, only to find more acne comes back after? You may have developed fungal acne, also known as Malassezia folliculitis. This happens when the skin’s balance of fungal and bacteria is disrupted; often by antibiotics and antibacterial products.
Fungal acne causes whiteheads and irritation and therefore is often mistaken for acne vulgaris (regular acne). In fact, they are very different and require different treatments.
While the excess oil and clogged pores don’t help the condition, acne fungal is actually caused by an overproduction of yeast. To treat this type of acne, you can find over the counter antifungal treatments or visit your doctor for a prescribed option.
What Really Causes Acne?
We know that acne occurs when the hair follicles become blocked with oil and dead skin cells, but why? When you experience a shift in hormones such as during puberty, menstrual cycles and pregnancy, your body responds by producing too much sebum (oil). This oil is produced by the sebaceous glands which are attached to the hair follicle; they aim to hydrate your skin and the hair.
But when you produce too much, the excess oil mixes with dead skin cells and clogs the pores, causing blackheads and whiteheads. Unfortunately, the previously harmless bacteria (p.acnes) can sometimes infect the clogged pores and this is when more severe spots occur.
Acne Triggers: What causes acne to flare up?
You now know the causes of acne but is there anything that may worsen your acne or trigger a flare-up? In short, yes.
Certain medications: some people have found that medications such as corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium can worsen their acne. This could be because of the way the medication affects the immune system or the hair follicles. Regular medication could aggravate existing acne.
Stress: although it isn’t a direct cause, new research is showing that stress can trigger and worsen acne. Implementing stress reduction techniques and caring for your mental health is important to boost your self-esteem and reduce stress-related acne.
Poor diet: research shows no evidence that any foods cause acne, however, foods high in carbohydrates and sugary foods may worsen your skin condition. This isn’t to say you should avoid these altogether, as eating these foods in moderation won’t affect your skin much. You should try to stick to a healthy, balanced diet because this will benefit your overall health and wellbeing.
How is Acne Treated?
To treat acne you must first determine what severity you have. Mild to moderate acne can be treated with over-the-counter solutions, whereas moderate to severe acne should be treated by a professional with prescribed treatment.
A successful acne remedy will target a key stage of the acne process. This may include excess oil production, increased bacteria, inflammation or clearing dead skin, to name a few.
Prescribed Treatments: A doctor will often prescribe oral or topical treatments to fight severe acne; this may range from antibiotics to hormonal treatments for women.
Over-the-Counter: Your local drugstore will provide many over-the-counter acne treatments, in the form of a kit, a cleanser, a leave-on product or a body wash. The most popular active ingredient in acne treatments is benzoyl peroxide.
Natural Remedies As the world is in search of more environmentally friendly alternatives and treatments that are kinder to your body, natural remedies are rising in popularity.
Tea Tree Oil:Originating from a native Australian tree called Melaleuca alternifolia, tea tree oil is praised for its multipurpose abilities. The essential oil is commonly used to treat dandruff, athletes foot, nail fungus, and is even used as a natural deodorant.
Equally interesting, it is even favoured as an acne treatment. In a 2006 study, tea tree oil was shown to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. This means that tea tree oil is a great option for acne because it soothes dry skin, reduces redness and itching, and assists in controlling oily skin.
Vitamins:There are a variety of things that contribute to skin health, including staying hydrated, eating a healthy, balanced diet, and reducing stress. Sometimes your body isn’t getting enough of the essential nutrients that are present in foods. For acne management, looking after your skin is vital and these vitamins may be able to target acne causes.
Vitamin A: This vitamin is used to reduce inflammation, however, should be consumed in moderation; too much vitamin A can cause dry and sensitive skin. It may be best to opt for topical creams and serums to boost your body’s vitamin A.
Zinc: with its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory abilities, zinc can heal wounds and reduce inflammation. A scientific review found that zinc even decreased the amount of sebum (oil) being created, another key stage of acne. Furthermore, another study highlighted it as a ‘promising alternative’ to other acne treatments.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids: in 2014 a study was published that highlighted how omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids affected the skin. After 10 weeks of taking the supplements ‘acne lesions decreased significantly’.
Vitamin E: this vitamin is found in a variety of skincare products and is often praised for its ability to aid skin health. However, when taking an oral supplement of vitamin E, it has the potential to alleviate acne symptoms. In fact, one study published in 2014 found a correlation between low vitamin E levels and the severity of acne.
Can CBD cure acne?
In recent years, more studies have been published about the use of CBD for acne-prone skin. While there is more research needed, it has promising benefits that may aid blemishes in a natural way.
What is CBD?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring compound found in the family of cannabis plants. Research shows CBD has vast health benefits for the mind and body; from treating mood disorders, muscular dystrophy to arthritis. To guarantee high quality, pure and legal product, the intoxicating compound, THC, is extracted during production.
Does CBD Target Acne Causes?
Using CBD for acne could have many benefits as it targets multiple problem areas.
Firstly, stress and anxiety are common triggers that can cause more blemishes to appear. Fortunately, CBD has shown great potential for reducing feelings of anxiety and promoting relaxation. Stress management is important for preventing acne flare-ups, so you avoid getting caught in a cycle of stress and break-outs.
So, how does CBD reduce stress and anxiety? In summary, it’s all to do with how CBD interacts with the nervous system and the CB1 and CB2 receptors. With the addition of CBD, your body is able to produce more serotonin – one of the hormones that promote feelings of happiness. In all, it boosts those positive hormones helping you get back to a state of calm.
But, it’s not just acne triggers that CBD can help with. Hemp oil can improve the condition of acne by targeting oil production, inflammation, and bacteria. In 2014, the Journal of Clinical Investigation conducted a study that discovered CBD played a role in inhibiting oil production. The researchers also concluded, CBD has anti-inflammatory effects on the cells and prevents acne from being triggered. Moreover, it has been discovered that cannabidiol extract can reduce skin infections due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
What does this mean for acne causes and treatment?
The above research tells us that CBD could target multiple stages of the acne problem, including the excess sebum, inflammation and irritated skin, clearing away unnecessary bacteria and finally reducing stress and anxiety.
It is important to acknowledge, cannabidiol is not a cure-all product, but it is showing huge potential for aiding the treatment of acne.
Whether you’ve been battling with acne for years, or you’re new on this skin journey, it’s understandably frustrating. You may go through some trial and error to find which skincare is best for your acne, but we hope this article has pointed you in the right direction.
Our range of organic CBD products have been designed to suit every lifestyle; from convenient vapes and oils to topical skincare that is easy to slide into your routine! If you’re keen to try CBD for acne, we recommend a combination of oral products and topical treatments to target multiple areas.
We have covered everything from acne causes to the variety of treatment options, including the revolution of CBD. If you have any questions send our dedicated team a message or subscribe to our emails for the latest CBD news and 20% off your first order!