So many questions, so much acne. Dealing with adult acne can be incredibly frustrating. Sometimes you feel as though you’re just going down the rabbit hole of treatments, only to wind up someplace weirder than the last, with no real relief.
So what do you do when acne decides to spread? How do you handle that bump in the road?
How Does Acne Develop?
When you see acne, you’re looking at the emergence of infected or inflamed sebaceous glands in the skin. Your pores are connected to a system of oil glands beneath the skin where sebum is produced. Sebum is meant to keep your skin moisturized and protected. As your skin cells regenerate, old dead cells are sloughed off. If they don’t get flushed away from the pores, they may manage to combine with sweat and oil, becoming trapped. As more sebum is produced and pushed through the follicle, it could combine with trapped skin cells and bacteria, clogging the pore and creating a plug called a comedo, or pimple.
Acne Vulgaris is the medical name for common acne. It is commonly found on the face, back, and chest, since these areas tend to be saturated with pilosebaceous (hair and oil gland) units, but can be found in other areas like the buttocks. It can develop anywhere on the body where the oil glands reside.
Things like hormonal imbalances, traveling, genetics, and medication can all play a role in the development of acne.
Sometimes it seems as though it may be spreading, as new areas of breakout develop. Perhaps you’ve been fighting acne on your face, and now suddenly it’s “moved” to your shoulders or chest. In actuality, acne is just forming in a new area as a result of a stimulus like inflammation from stress or poor diet. Acne doesn’t spread per se, it develops on its own in different locations.
What Causes Acne?
Things like hormonal imbalances, traveling, genetics, pressure (from helmets, chin straps, collars, etc), and medication can all play a role in the development of acne. In some jobs, exposure to industrial products like cutting oils may produce acne. Some cosmetics and skin care products are comedogenic, or pore clogging. No one, single factor causes it.
Often, stress could worsen symptoms of a current breakout. It won’t trigger a new case, but could make it appear as though the acne is spreading. Sebum production can be influenced by cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. When you’re stressed or worried, your body produces more sebum.
The good news is that these types of breakouts are normally temporary. There may be ways you can help to speed up their disappearance.
How to Cope With Acne
While your “spreading” acne can be frustrating, you can take steps to keep things under control. At the very least, a basic routine consists of:
- Cleanse your skin every morning using a gentle cleanser. You need to rid your skin of oils and debris that were flushed out of your pores overnight, but you don’t want to overdo it. Being too harsh on your skin can lead to inflammation, further angering your acne.
- Apply a benzoyl peroxide product to areas where you most breakout; your hotspots. That’s usually the forehead, chin, chest, and back.
- Apply a product that contains alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) to existing lesions. Two AHA’s work by breaking the bonds that keep cells connected, helping to renew collagen and improve the appearance of acne scars. Two AHA’s typically found in acne treatments are glycolic acid and lactic acid.
- Acne medications can be drying to the skin, so apply a good, oil-free moisturizer.
- Cleanse your skin before bedtime. It’s important to remove the oils and grime from the day. Be sure that all traces of makeup are gone.
- Treat your skin with salicylic acid, which works differently than benzoyl peroxide. It helps to break down whiteheads and blackheads, and slows the cells from shedding inside the hair follicle.
- Moisturize again. Dehydrated skin could be prone to burning and irritation.
- Gently exfoliate your skin two to three times a week. Exfoliators have mildly abrasive ingredients that can work to scrub away dead skin cells and loosen clogged pores.
MDSUN has a full line designed to help calm acne and keep it under control. They include ingredients to regulate oil gland secretion, hydrate, heal, balance skin pH, soothe skin, and reduce inflammation.
These are our favorites for taking care of blemish-ravaged skin, regardless of whether it’s on your face, neck, back, or shoulders:
- Active Cleanser, a lightweight gel cleanser that contains glycolic acid
- Active Toner, providing hydration, brightening, and anti-aging benefits
- Clarifying Serum eliminates blemish formations while providing deep hydration and nourishing antioxidants
- Skin Exfoliation Pads remove pore-clogging debris, help minimize breakouts, improve skin tone, and refine skin texture
- Hydro-Recovery Mask provides therapeutic relief for dry and sensitive skin