Do you feel like you've tried every skin care product under the sun, but nothing seems to work? If so, you're not alone. Millions of people suffer from acne, and they're always looking for new ways to clear their skin.
Acne doesn’t only affect the skin. It can have a far-reaching effect on your mental health too. In fact, alarmingly, acne sufferers are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, poorer employment outcomes and lower self-esteem than those who are lucky to have clear skin.
In this video I dive into the top ten reasons why your skin may be breaking out including high glycemic foods, dairy, gut health, environmental irritants, hormonal imbalances, high stress, and more.
So, if you're sick and tired of pesky breakouts and are trying to pinpoint what is causing your inflammation and subsequent breakouts, this video is for you.
Transcript: The Top 10 Causes of Acne
Are you sick and tired of your skin breaking out? Do you feel like you’ve tried every lotion and potion and over-the-counter treatment there is under the sun with no success?
For many people, acne goes far beyond the surface level. I’m not talking about cystic acne; I’m talking about the far-reaching effects acne can have on one’s mental health. In fact, alarmingly, acne sufferers are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, poorer employment outcomes, and lower self-esteem than those who are lucky to have clear skin.
Your face is, after all, what you show to the world so it’s understandable that you want healthy, clear skin. It’s understandable that when your acne is flaring up, it affects your confidence and your mood.
So how does acne actually occur?
The sebaceous glands of your skin create an oily substance called sebum. An overabundance of sebum along with an overgrowth of normal skin cells called keratinocytes, can build up and clog your pores. Keratinocytes and sebum can also both produce bacteria adding to the problem.
These skin cells then get stuck in the pores, mixing with the oil to form a hard plug. When blocked pores become infected and inflamed, this leads to the formation of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.
Now when it comes to treating acne, you need to be aware that all the surface treatments in the world aren’t going to fix the problem. The presence of acne reveals that something more is going on inside that needs to be addressed.
I’m now going to share with you the top 10 causes of acne to help you head in the right direction to solve your skin problem.
The first is your genes. Yes, genetics do play a role in determining your susceptibility to acne and unfortunately, you don’t have much of a say in your genetic makeup. However, research suggests that although there is a strong genetic link, the development and severity of acne are largely impacted by environmental factors.
In other words: genes load the gun, the environment pulls the trigger.
2. High Insulin Levels
One of the biggest drivers of acne is high insulin levels. If you’re eating large amounts of refined carbohydrates and foods with a high glycemic index, this can lead to a spike in your blood sugar levels. Your pancreas responds to this elevated level of glucose in your bloodstream by producing more insulin. High levels of insulin then stimulate the production and synthesis of androgens which are known to trigger the production of both keratinocytes and oily sebum.
The role of diet in acne has always been a bit of a sticking point but dairy has long been considered the worst food for acne. Even though milk has a low glycemic index, it aggravates acne by increasing the levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which increases keratinocyte proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Milk also contains hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and androgen precursors, which tend to be pore-clogging, leading to breakouts.
4. Hormonal Changes
I don’t know about you but for a lot of people, issues with acne start in their adolescent years as their body goes through major hormonal changes. Fluctuations of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone can cause zits and pimples to pop up. Typically, these fluctuations happen mostly during menstruation cycles, pregnancy, and menopause.
5. Low Zinc
Having low zinc levels is another cause of acne. Studies have shown that acne patients of both genders have been found to have serum zinc levels on average 28.3% lower than control subjects. Why? Zinc is an essential nutrient for the skin as it reduces androgen production, speeds up skin healing, balances sebum production, reduces inflammation, and reduces keratin production to unclog pores.
6. Certain Medications
There are some medications that may lead to or exacerbate acne. For example, corticosteroids used topically or in high oral doses can cause steroid-induced acne, and the use of anabolic steroids can cause what is known as “bodybuilder’s acne.” Some progestin-only birth control pills can cause your androgen levels to fluctuate, which can lead to an increase in hormonal acne.
7. Environmental toxins
Environmental toxins such as air pollutants, organic compounds such as coal tar or crude oil, and pesticides are another trigger as they increase oxidative stress which can alter normal functions of lipids and protein in the skin and prompt sebum production.
8. Inappropriate Products and Cosmetics
The eighth most common cause of acne has to do with skincare routines and using inappropriate products and cosmetics. Washing your face too much and using bad products modifies the skin barrier and the microbial balance on the skin especially in the sebaceous area. This can activate the innate immunity response and trigger inflammation.
9. Light Exposure
An interesting cause of acne is light exposure. Research has found that short wavelength visible light emitted from smartphones and tablets has the ability to increase the proliferation of Staphylococcus aureus, unbalancing the skin microbiota and leading to acne breakouts.
And how can we not mention stress! I’m sure that many of you have already drawn the link yourself. Cells that produce sebum have receptors for a stress-related hormone called a corticotropin-releasing hormone, or CRH. CRH can bind to the receptors in the skin’s sebaceous glands which can increase the skin’s oil production, activate pathways affecting immune function and ultimately drive up inflammation. People who are stressed also tend to sleep poorly, consume less healthy foods and break away from their usual skin-care routines- all of which could further promote acne breakouts.
Well that’s a wrap for this video. We have covered the ten most common drivers of acne and I hope that that has given you some insight into why your skin may be troubled. Once you know the underlying driver, it is easier to treat.
If you want to learn more about how to eat right for your skin, don’t ignore this video here where we have experts share what they believe to be the top principles of an optimal diet. And…before you go, we would love to hear about what has worked for you on your journey to clearer skin so please, share in the comments and like and subscribe.