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Acne, also referred to as that one skin condition that almost everyone has to deal with. Acne is one super common, and often persistent skin condition. Often acne is associated with the time period of puberty, but it is also a common concern for adults. Just when you think you’re on top of your breakouts, another sneaky pimple emerges. Why is that?

There are a variety of factors that contribute and exacerbate acne. Our failure to manage or address these underlying issues is one of the reasons acne is so relentless. 

Below are 6 clues to what may be worsening your acne, as discussed in an interview we conducted with Prudvi Mohan Kaka, Chief Scientific Officer of DECIEM. 

  1. Stress

Yes, stress contributes to acne. Stress, particularly mental stress, often results in the increased production of a hormone called androgen. The androgen hormone increases the production of sebum. In turn, excess sebum clogs the follicle, creating an ideal environment for anaerobic bacteria to thrive. If you think stress is contributing to your acne, read a recent article we wrote on effective stress management strategy. (Link to: Blog from 16th September: Can meditation assist healing https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yYQVAWKNt5kU6Ow2KaH4gBUkbpZdyU3_/view?usp=sharing)

  1. Medications

Medications such as antidepressants have a tendency to increase acne breakouts. Prudvi explained that drugs such as lithium or amoxapine could trigger breakout. He recommends speaking to your healthcare provider if your acne appears to be triggered by your medications.

  1. Genetic predisposition

Some people with acne have a genetic predisposition. While there isn’t a lot we can do about changing our genes, it may be interesting to ask your parents if they experienced acne as a young adult. If that’s the case, speak to your physician on management strategies.

  1. Excessive exfoliation and face washing

Washing and exfoliating excessively is a common behaviour of those with acne. This logic is often due to the misconception that acne is caused by poor hygiene. If anything over cleansing and exfoliating worsens acne as it causes drying and irritation to the skin, this in turn causes inflammation, impairs the skin barrier and increases sebum production. And so the cycle continues. A clue to whether your cleanser is drying out your skin is, does your skin feel tight after cleansing? If so, it is likely stripping away your skin’s vital lipids. Exfoliation is effective at removing skin cells before they can clog the follicle, choose a chemical exfoliant such as a papain enzyme or Beta Hydroxy Acid such as salicylic over a physical granular exfoliant.

  1. Sun exposure

Some people deliberately expose themselves to the sun because they believe it can help cure acne. This belief is not only incorrect but dangerous as it increases your risk of skin cancer. Excessive sun exposure causes inflammation, adding inflammation to an already impaired skin impairs healing and may even lead to worsening of post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

We recognise, of course, incidental sun exposure is inevitable and that’s okay. Just don’t make it a part of an acne treatment regime. It doesn’t work.

  1. Popping and squeezing

Almost everyone is guilty of this. Tampering with, touching, and squeezing the acne lesions every chance you get is not the best action for your skin. Apart from prolonging the healing time of the acne, it leads to scarring and spreading of bacteria across your skin. 

To treat your acne, you need to ascertain its root cause. One way you can find this out is by consulting with a qualified clinician. Also, observe your actions or habits and how they affect the acne by keeping a journal where you document all your observations.