Part Two: The Acne Chronicles
At some point in our lives, acne has affected us all. Like the unique individuals we are, acne comes in different shapes and sizes. In part two of The Acne Chronicles, we talk about how not all acne is the same.
What are they: Whiteheads are the classic symptom we think of when we talk about acne. Whiteheads are also known as comedones and occur when pores become clogged. This is due to high production of natural oils within the body; a result of hormonal agitators or genetic factors. The bacteria build up, caused by the blocked pores results in a localised infection which leads to the development of a spot.
What should you do: Try using gentle exfoliators and cleansers to help clean and balance the oil levels on the skin. Products like Guinot’s Gommage Biologique is gentle yet effective at removing surface dirt without drying out the skin and encouraging more oil production. You could also consider using products with retinol; ask your skincare professional for tailored help however, we love Environ’s AVST range, which offers a step up programme of Vitamin A creams.
What are they: Look at your skin. If you see tiny black dots on the surface of your skin, you have blackheads. Like whiteheads, these are known as comedones. Blackheads occur when clogged oil, blocking the pores, becomes oxidised.
What should you do: Gentle exfoliation and cleansing to help disperse the build up of blackheads is recommended. Consider also deep cleansing and purifying facials with a skin therapist as a maintenance programme to keep your skin in good health. Incorporating a double-cleansing routine into your home care is also great way to start.
Did You Know: Mild acne (known as Grade 1) is commonly defined by the presence of whiteheads and blackheads and (or) the appearance of a few papules and pustules.
What are they: Papules occur when sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria have combined and result in inflammation. Papules are relatively small and will appear swollen and red. Papules are recognisable by the absence of any sebum to extract.
What should you do: Despite the discomfort these spots cause, they rarely emerge on the surface of the skin and usually dissipate on their own, in time. Emergency hero products such as Environ’s Sebuspot can help with the inflammatory discomfort in the meantime and mild exfoliation will help to keep the pores clean.
What are they: Like its friend the whitehead, pustules contain white/yellow sebum at its centre however, they are bigger and angrier than the standard whitehead and are often painful to the touch.
What should you do: Whilst your first instinct is to ‘pop’ away, extraction is a delicate business and there is a risk of scarring and infection spreading if not done carefully. Always consult your skincare therapist who will assess whether extraction is appropriate and can help you with gentle extraction based facial treatments. In the meantime, the usual prescriptions at home apply.
Did You Know: Skins’ with a presence of multiple papules and, or pustules are placed in the moderate acne (grade 2) group.
SEVERE ACNE, NODULES, CYSTIC ACNE
What are they: Severe acne is derived of several ‘names’ including nodules and cysts. These forms of acne can present themselves as large, red and inflamed spots and blemishes which do not go away with hormonal fluctuations. Severe acne symbolises a more serious issue which needs to be treated more carefully and closely under the eyes of a professional.
Nodular acne is often found on large areas of the skin such as the back or chest and are ‘hard’ lesions. Whilst cysts also begin deep under the skin’s surface, they are softer to the touch. Cysts develop when blackheads and whiteheads affect the surrounding areas of the skin. The body responds to this by treating the cyst as an aggressor and your immune system will produce a ‘pus’ in response.
What should you do: Cystic acne is not fun and there are several options and treatment routes you can take. These options include oral antibiotics to help any bacterial infection, the contraceptive pill, and topical creams which contain ingredients such as retinol, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Always consult your GP for personal advice and your skincare therapist.