We know that the city life is not really friendly to keeping skin healthy, supple and glowing; the stresses, fast-paced living, pollution and heat are not just able to take that radiance out of you, but also put in unwanted things.
We’re not talking about weight gain here, but the dreaded ACNE, the bane of make-up, meetings, romantic dates and ‘selfies’. Sufferers of acne can experience not just distracting conversations, but anxiety and lowered self-esteem.
What is Acne?
Known scientifically as ‘acne vulgaris’ but referred to simply as ‘acne’, it is caused by the clogging of hair follicles and pores by dead skin cells, skin oils (also known as sebum), pollutants and/or facial products like make-up, and exacerbated by excessive growth of facial bacteria, resulting in blackheads or whiteheads, pimples and even scarring, if not properly handled. Areas like the face, upper chest and upper back are particularly vulnerable, due to the high density of oil glands in those areas underneath your skin.
A.C.N.E. — A Common Nuisance to Everyone
In 2015, it was estimated that as many as 633 million people across the globe suffer from more serious forms of acne problems, and perhaps even more people, if we account for those who have periodic episodes of breakouts — almost everyone will experience having acne at least once in their lifetime.
There are many available treatments for acne such as over-the-counter medications like azelaic acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics and retinoids. However, like with any other medication and chemicals, users may experience allergies or should avoid them due to pregnancy, existing medical conditions or medical prescriptions.
7 Acne-Fighting Tips You Can Do Yourself
To aid you in the fight against this one common enemy, we have explored and listed seven useful acne busters and skincare tips to help you eradicate this sore menace.
Tea Tree Oil
The well-known tea tree oil possesses natural properties that fight bacteria, reduce inflammation of the skin and keep the naturally-occurring Propionibacterium Acnes bacteria from over-proliferating. The anti-inflammatory properties in the oil can reduce and quicken healing of any swelling and soreness on your skin. Researchers in a study done in 2015 observed that tea tree oil products can reduce the severity of acne in people experiencing mild and moderate symptoms.
One of nature’s wonders, the aloe vera does not just provide refreshing chewy bits in fancy drinks but they also come bearing antibacterial and anti-inflammatory gifts that, like explained above, can ameliorate the effects of acne and quicken the healing process. With its high water content, it is an excellent natural moisturiser for everyone.
Besides being a natural sweetener that makes for an awesome flu relief, honey has been used for millennia to treat skin conditions and as general medicine. As honey is hygroscopic (absorbs water from the environment) and acidic in nature, it prevents growth and colonisation of bacteria in tissues. Honey is a hostile environment for microbes because of its low water activity and traces of hydrogen peroxide. To use honey for acne, use a clean finger or cotton pad and apply small amounts of honey onto pimply areas. You can also smear some honey onto your facial masks as part of your skincare routine.
Green tea, to preserve its flavour and prevent it from deteriorating through oxidation, is lightly steamed, unlike darker teas — this process is not just something tea aficionados celebrate, but also people like you who care for their skin. Apparently, the light steaming retains much of the Camellia sinensis (where tea leaves are derived from) plant’s natural antioxidants, called catechins, that help in reducing inflammation — the first step to ensuring your body heals quickly is to reduce inflammation. However, it takes frequent drinking of green tea to fully enjoy its anti-inflammatory prowess.
Who doesn’t love some rosemary on a slab of roast beef or honey-glazed lamb rack? It turns out that the herb does more than flavouring BBQs! Rosmarinus officinalis, or commonly known as rosemary extract, contains antioxidants and possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. One 2013 research observed in mice and human cells that the extract may reduce inflammation caused by the P. acnes bacteria. Nevertheless, having rosemary around in the house is never a bad thing, from being an excellent roasting herb to providing a fragrance around the house.
Avoid Touching Pimples
Clichéd, we know, but we think it has not been repeated enough. As with any injury, aggravating swelling causes even more swelling; it is your body’s reaction to foreign ‘invasions’ and damage, thus touching it can make your body think that there is more damage done or introduce more bacteria that causes swelling to worsen. Worse still, squeezing pimples is a terrible idea — you now have an open wound that’s akin to keeping your doors unlocked in a troubled neighbourhood.
Choose Cleansers Well
Not all cleansers are created the same, and everyone’s skin is unique — meaning, not all cleansers are right for your skin. Other than having chemicals that can cause irritation in some skin types, some cleansers’ pH levels may be too alkaline for you and can cause dryness. When your skin is too dry, the cells die and oil glands produce even more sebum, aggravating acne-causing factors. Consult your dermatologist on which skincare or facial product suits you best.