The skin is protected from the elements and the environment by a thin layer of protective oil, known as sebum which is produced by the sebaceous glands. Acne breakouts and blemishes occur when the skin produces too much sebum. The excess oil combines with loose skin cells, forming plugs which block the pores. The blocked pores form whiteheads, blackheads and pimples, which can become infected by bacteria, causing them to become red and irritated.
Acne is most commonly associated with oily skin. However, acne breakouts can occur on dry and normal skin. Acne
can form on any part of the body that has a high concentration of sebaceous glands. It is most commonly found on the face, back, shoulders and chest.
To help keep acne at bay, it is recommended that you cleanse the skin every day. Although it may be tempting to use strong cleansers
to remove excess oil, dermatologists advise this should be avoided. Stripping the skin of vital protective oils can trigger its defense mechanisms. Harsh cleansers can leave the skin feeling overly dry, which in turn triggers an increase in sebum production. It is also advised to avoid over-washing or scrubbing the skin. If you wash your face too often or too vigorously, you can cause irritation or dryness and stimulate oil production.
Medicated cleansers that have been developed specifically for acne-prone skin contain ingredients that combat blemishes and breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide provides oxygen to the skin, which helps to loosen the plugs of oil and skin cells that block pores. It also diminishes the number of harmful bacteria found on the skin and soothes the inflammation that causes redness and discomfort. Over-the-counter acne cleansers may contain between 2.5% and 10% concentrations of benzoyl peroxide. It is recommended that when you begin using a cleanser containing benzoyl peroxide, to select a lower concentration. If this is not effective, you can increase the strength of the cleanser.
You can help to keep pores clear by sloughing off the old skin cells that cling to the surface of the skin. Salicylic acid can aid cell turnover by loosening the bonds that old skin cells have with the epidermis. Antibacterial cleansers help to remove the naturally-occurring bacteria that can infect blocked pores.
A variety of natural ingredients can help to cleanse and soothe acne-prone skin. Tea tree oil appears to have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties that may help combat bacteria on the skin. Soothing ingredients, such as aloe, lavender and chamomile, are thought to help calm inflamed skin and reduce irritation.
When you are looking for an acne cleanser, opt for products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic. This will help to keep your complexion fresh and your pores free from blockages. If your skin is dry or sensitive, you may find that your skin responds better to a cream
cleanser rather than a soap bar or cleansing gel.
Some of the ingredients found in acne cleansers can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. If you are using an acne cleanser as part of your daily beauty routine, you should apply a high factor sunscreen
before going outdoors. You should discuss your concerns or plans for a skin care regimen with your doctor or pharmacist as some over the counter products can cause irritation for different skin types. back to top »