Saturday, July 13, 2013

Environmental Causes of Acne and Acne "Hot Zones"

What's Causing Your Acne?

While people are often concerned with what is causing their acne, they may not necessarily be aware of the environmental factors that could be contributing to their acne issues. Knowing and understanding the environmental factors that can exacerbate acne breakouts is key to controlling these factors and preventing breakouts. It's pretty amazing how many simple everyday factors can actually cause or worsen acne breakouts. While there are also internal factors (hormonal imbalances, poor nutrition, lack of key vitamins and minerals) that can cause acne, we will be focusing on primarily the environmental aspects of the issue. Perhaps a few little changes in your everyday routines can actually help rid you of acne breakouts, or at least improve your breakouts so that they are more manageable.

Hot Zone 1: Forehead

People who have frequent breakouts on their forehead should examine several environmental factors that could be causing their breakouts. Both men and women who suffer from breakouts on the forehead should first think about what types of hair products they are using. Shampoos, conditioners, hair gels, hairspray, and any other products that you use in your hair can migrate to the forehead throughout the day and cause clogged pores, causing acne. If you must use hair products try to use products that won't cause acne breakouts, try all natural products if you can. Many big label brands have started marketing "natural" ingredient products that have less sulfates and silicone which are less likely to increase breakouts because there are not as many harsh chemicals and ingredients.
Those suffering with frequent forehead breakouts may also find that they have oily hair. Like hair products, the oils in your hair will also migrate onto your facial skin, causing breakouts. Make sure that if you have really oily skin that you are taking preventing measures to decrease the oil on your hair. I have very oily hair and I have to wash it every day or it becomes very greasy. Some people can go two days without washing their hair, but since my hair is oily I have to do this daily. Girls who constantly have hair touching their forehead (bangs, etc.) may also experience more forehead breakouts.

Wearing hats or headbands can increase forehead breakouts. Hats are typically not washed daily, so they accumulate bacteria from the skin and sweat which then causes acne problems in the forehead area. Be sure that if you wear hats or headbands that come in direct contact with your forehead that you keep them clean bacteria free. Try to at least wash these things once per week to prevent bacteria buildup.

Hot Zone 2: Cheeks

Those suffering from frequent acne breakouts on the cheeks know just how painful these breakouts can be. One factor that you need to take into account is your cell phone. Nearly everyone has a cell phone these days, but people don't necessarily think about what kinds of bacteria are living on the cell phone. As a result, people hold the cell phone up to the side of their face, transferring the bacteria from the phone to their face (particularly the sides of their face). To address this make sure you are wiping down your phone regularly with antibacterial wipes. If you have a special touch screen try to find the products that are safe to use on the screen. Try to wipe down your phone thoroughly every few days.

Another culprit of breakouts on the cheeks is the oils and bacteria from your own hands. Many people will rest their head on their hands, which means that your hands come into direct contact with your cheeks and side of your face. Again, this transfers the oils, dirt, and bacteria from your hands onto your face. Try to be more aware of how often you are touching your face to decrease this issue.
When is the last time you changed your pillowcase? If it has been more than a week since you've changed your pillowcase, this can also create breakouts around the sides of the face (depending on how you sleep). Your pillowcase gathers oils and bacteria over time, and while you sleep at night these bacteria transfer to your face causing breakouts. Wash your pillowcase as often as possible, but aim for at least once a week to be safe.

Hot Zone 3: Chin and Mouth Area

The chin and mouth area are some of the most common acne prone spots on the face. One factor that you want to take into account if you're dealing with acne around your chin and mouth is what you're putting into your mouth. Make sure that when you eat you aren't getting grease and oil all over the skin surrounding your mouth, this can cause breakouts by clogging your pores.
Also take into account what you're putting on your lips. Things like chap stick, lip gloss, and lipstick can spread to the skin around your mouth and also as far as your chin, which can also clog pores because these products are often oil based. Also be aware of products with SPF, personally I find that anything with SPF really breaks out my skin. Opt for natural lip products like Burt's Bees honey chap stick which is less likely to cause breakouts around the mouth area.

Other common environmental factors that lead to acne...

  • Makeup and makeup tools- be sure to choose oil-free and non-comedogenic makeup products so that they don't clog your pores and lead to breakouts. Also be sure to wash your makeup tools and brushes to keep them sanitized and bacteria free.
  • Stress- Stress is linked to hormonal acne, so try to stress less and find ways to alleviate your stress if you tend to be overstressed often.
  • Caffeine- Caffeine increases adrenaline which then increases testosterone, which could lead to hormonal acne. Lay off the caffeine for a week or two to see if your acne breakouts go away.
  • Dairy products- Dairy has a lot of hormones in it that can cause a hormonal imbalance within your body. Try going dairy free for a few weeks to see if your acne improves.
  • Face towels- Make sure you aren't using the same face towel for weeks on end. Like pillowcases, face towels collect dirt, oil, and bacteria which can transfer to your face.
  • Allergies- You may have a food or other type of allergy that may be causing your acne...see a specialist to rule out any allergies that could cause your acne.
  • Laundry Detergent- Most laundry detergents have a lot of harsh chemicals and fragrances in them which can worsen acne and irritate skin. Try switching to a laundry soap that is meant for sensitive skin (hypoallergenic). I wash my towels and washcloths in Tide Free & Clear laundry soap to prevent it from irritating my skin.
  • Face products- Be aware of what products you are using on your face. Cleansers, toners, and moisturizers should be oil-free (if you have oily skin), fragrance free, alcohol free, and non-comedogenic (won't clog pores). Try to opt for the most natural face products you can find, I use the Simple Skincare line for sensitive skin.