What Acne Tells About Your Health | Skin Diaries | Dr. Preeti Savardekar (MD Dermatologist)

Acne is one of the most common skin problems that is seen in people across all age groups and in both men and women. Right from hormonal changes that happen in the body as you hit puberty to increased intake of foods loaded with fats, there are numerous factors that can increase your risk of acne. Unlike earlier believed, acne is not a skin problem that only happens to teenagers, in reality, it can also be seen in adults and older individuals. Surprisingly, what many people are unaware of is the fact that almost every one of us might have spotted a pimple on our face but still fail to know how acne can reveal about our health. Here are a few things you need to know about acne and its role in our health and what to do about it.

What Causes Acne?

A common question which almost every one of us has thought the moment we spot a pimple is what causes acne. One of the key reasons that most of us ignore is environmental pollution. The dirt and pollutants in the air not only get accumulated on the skin but also block skin pores and lead to acne. It also aggravates acne, if you already suffer from the problem. Moreover, it can also increase the risk of various skin problems.

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However, if you develop a sudden bout of acne and are wondering what could be the cause of it, then it is important to understand the three different factors that can put you at risk of it. These include:

Stress: Stress forms an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Whether you have been eating out or sleeping late at night, it affects your daily routine which in turn can impact your hormones and skin and causes acne breakouts. The lack of sleep coupled with unhealthy dietary regimen is one of the key reasons why most people, especially teenagers and adults, suffer from sudden acne breakouts.

Hence, it is important to indulge in activities that help you to relax and de-stress. These include joining a dance class or an activity class over weekends, going swimming or gym post work, playing with your kids after you reach home or chatting with your friends or colleagues can go a long way to ease stress. You can even go for a walk post work or try yoga and meditation to stay calm and stress-free.

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Hormonal changes: The reason why teenagers are at high risk of suffering from acne is due to hormonal changes that occur during puberty. There are several studies that have reported the role of hormonal changes in acne. When a child enters into adulthood, many reproductive changes happen in the body due to hormones which may result in acne. In fact, this is the reason why most women get acne just before their periods because of the sudden changes that happen at the hormonal level. Also, in some cases, acne can also be seen in people suffering from hormonal problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

In such a case, it is important to consult a dermatologist to know the exact cause of acne because ignoring it can cause serious complications in the future. Also, if you have frequent breakouts and home remedies fail to show any improvement in your condition than do get in touch with a doctor for the right treatment.

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Diet: The role of diet in keeping your skin healthy and glowing cannot be underestimated. The popular adage – you are what you eat – holds perfectly when it comes to your health. Your diet is also one of the causes of acne. It can also be caused due to irregular eating patterns, eating unhealthy foods or loading up the intake of junk or processed foods. Also, eating foods loaded with fats or excessive intake of oily and fried foods can also worsen acne.

This is why it is important to keep a close tab on what you eat and maintain a strict diet control to keep your skin healthy. The best way to prevent acne is to drink enough water and eat fresh fruits and vegetables rather than junk food.

In addition to this, the use of dirty phones, pillow covers or make-up can also trigger acne breakouts. This mostly causes acne on one side of the face, most preferably on the cheeks and jawline. Also, the appearance of acne on the chin and jawline can be due to changes in the endocrine system which could be attributed to the use of medications such as birth control pills[1]. Intake of a high carbohydrate diet and dairy products can impact your gut health and hormones, which in turn can cause acne[2]. Hence, it is wise to cut down on sugar, dairy, and simple carbohydrates to prevent and fight acne.

Hence, acne can reveal a lot about your health right from your how healthy your diet is, how stressed you are and what changes happen in your body due to hormones. If these factors are kept in check, at least diet and stress,  or if the underlying cause of these factors is known, you can fight and prevent acne. Knowing about this not only helps you keep a check on acne but also gives an insight into your health.

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1. Katta R, Desai SP. Diet and dermatology: the role of dietary intervention in skin disease. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Jul;7(7):46-51.

2. Elsaie ML. Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2016 Sep 2;9:241-8.

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