Hello everybody, my name is Dr Liv Kraemer and I’m a dermatologist at my clinic in Zurich/ Switzerland. My focus is skincare and skinfood. A lot of my patients are asking me how to get rid of acne. They also want to know how to prevent acne or breakouts. Let me answer some questions for you: What is acne? What triggers acne? Is acne contagious? How to prevent and treat acne at home? What can you do to minimize breakouts? Which food can you eat and which food you should avoid?
Sometimes, unfortunately, my patients are visiting me too late, and scars have already developed. Read my tips and try to avoid acne breakouts and acne scars!
What is acne?
A lot of people of different ages are suffering from acne. Men are more likely to suffer from acne during puberty and have more extreme cases than women. Women are more likely to suffer from acne from it in adulthood. More specifically, the rates of acne increase for women from ages 20-40 and changes are noted in the menstrual period. In fact, 1/20 of adult women have acne, while just 1/100 of adult men do.
Acne does not appear just because you overate chocolate or too many french fries. It happens because a couple of incidences took place. I always tell my patients they have to compare it with a Swiss Watch. Many wheels are moving before the big hand is moving. It is the same with your skin. In fact, you have the hormonal changes, the excess oil production of your sebaceous glands, the superficial skin so-called hyperkeratosis and of course the bacterial overload. We call it a pimple folliculitis. Why? A follicle is a hair, and the ending “itis” is the inflammation of it. So you get your pimples nearby your hair area. Therefore you will never get pimples on lips. No hair means no pimples 🙂 Easy right?!
Another part is the genetic factor, unfortunately. Acne most commonly appears on your face, but also on neck, chest, back and unfortunately even on your shoulders. I know, acne can be distressing and annoyingly persistent. I have a lot of different patients in any age. The patient’s age is ranging from 15, with a peak around their late 20s and even up to their mid-30s and 40s. Acne in the 40s is the so-called “late-onset acne”. But please, don’t be afraid. Don’t give up! There are solutions!
What triggers acne?
Myths about acne are as common as acne itself. As I said above, there are many reasons why acne appears. The pores are clogged, and the bacteria which are on your skin become dominant. We call the guys propionibacterium. If there’s an imbalance of these bacteria, acne can occur at the same time the gland oil production gets increased. Of course, a rise in androgen levels plays a role in your oil glands production. This leads to a high production of sebum which can break down the cellular walls in the pores. But emotional stress and hormonal changes can also be a key trigger. Therefore it’s essential to reduce the bacteria overgrow, by using the right skincare routine, washing your face right (watch my other video “how to wash your face”) or using a face towel.
Is acne caused by bacteria? Is acne contagious?
The answer is therefore of course double no. We all have millions bacteria and fungus on our skin. Just if the right skin bacteria balance is disturbed, we are getting problems. Acne is one of them. So please remember: acne is really NOT contagious! The propionibacterium can’t spread like an infectious disease. So you can’t get acne while spending time with friends who have acne. Acne is therefore not contagious. But tell your friends that there is a solution against breakouts and acne. Send them to a dermatologist. Because if acne is not treated quickly acne scars remaining your whole life.
How to prevent acne at home by yourself?
First of all, I beg you: don’t treat acne by yourself. Seek help from a dermatologist. Preventing acne is the key to avoid scars. But if you get acne, try to treat it as early as possible to avoid scars. There are a lot of skin-smoothing products and treatments which help you to prevent a break-out. Also, your daily behaviour is essential too. My patients have typical behaviours, like touching their face constantly and wondering why they get acne on their chin.
Do’s and Dont’s to prevent acne
- Please do not touch your face! Neither pick or pop your pimples. Why? because acne scares do not look good?!
- Don’t scratch the sensitive skin!
- Wash your face twice a day (in the morning and in the evening). Wash it with lukewarm water and try to avoid too hot water!
- Use a midsize towel for your face, only for your face!
- Wash the towel at 60° or higher, so you can get rid of the bacteria
- Don’t use greasy cosmetics or dirty beauty tools!
- Wash your face, but don’t wash it too often. But twice per day is enough, do not overdue!
- Don’t switch your skincare and medical products all the time. Give them time to work. Six to eight weeks is normal. Compare it with your body exercise. There you never will see the results on your body earlier neither.
Is there a diet to prevent acne or treat acne?
A lot of my patients are asking me how to prevent acne and pimples. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of good medical research out there. But studies show the same results.(1) Therefore generally speaking:
- Try to avoid too much of milk protein. If you use protein powder for your body work-out, read the food labels. Most of the protein and sports shakes and powders include a lot of milk protein. Use protein products with alternatives to milk protein. I suggest hemp protein, be careful with soy protein as it works as a phytohormone in high doses and may affect your hormonal level.
- Be careful with too much of extra Vitamin B products as well. Again, look at labels if you take protein powders, bars or sport shakes. Vitamin B in healthy food like avocados or nuts is not the problem. But the additional high doses in energy shots, protein bars or powders have to be carefully watched.
- Try to avoid convenience food, it contains a lot of sugar! Take your time and cook a meal by yourself or eat a fresh salad with a healthy oil like pumpkin seed oil.
- Last but not least, try to cut down on your sweets, really! I know, Christmas is coming and there are cookies everywhere. But try to avoid too much sugar in general. Particularly try to minimise your intake of sugary drinks, energy drinks, crisps, sweets in general. Products with a high glycemic index show in some studies to have a harmful impact on your body so as on your skin particular on your acne. Watch my Youtube video ” Food and acne connection”
Food and sugar – an overview:
A researcher from the University of Sydney published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition an excellent paper and table of high and low glycemic food. If you want to read more about the glycemic index, click here to read the medical article.
Which acne treatments are available?
The best option is to consult one of us dermatologist to treat acne. There are different acne treatment options available. Don’t wait too long. There are local medications but also internal once available. Don’t be so afraid. With a proper guidance from your dermatologist you can for sure treat acne. But please remember, it takes time to heal the damaged skin. So start the treatment as soon as possible to get rid of your pimples. Your skin can recover if you follow the instructions your dermatologist gives you!
You must attack the variety of acne causes. For example, over the counter products are available but try to follow the regime of your dermatologist. Nevertheless some examples:
- Benzoyl peroxide decreases the P. acne bacteria
- Antibiotics decrease the P. acne bacteria as well
- Salicylic acid cuts down the inflammation and unclogged pores
- Glycolic acid removes the excess cells which clog the pores
- Retinoids, such as adapalene gel, increase the production and unclog pores and reduces oiliness
If you would like to learn more about the skincare treatments to enhance your skin health and appearance, how to treat acne or how to prevent it, request a consultation. Click here for a personal consultation with Dr.Liv
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(1) JAAD Diet and acne Whitney P. Bowe, MD,a Smita S. Joshi, MD,b and Alan R