Why do I have acneic skin? What is the solution?
Why do I have oily skin?
Pollution, stress and eating habits are factors that influence the appearance of oily skin and make not only teenagers but also adults present this problem.
Oily skin is due to a disorganization of the epidermis on two levels:
- Irregular sebaceous synthesis: the production of fat is greater than normal and non-homogeneous, mainly on the forehead, the nose and the perioral area.
- Poor skin renewal (dyskeratosis): dead cells in the stratum corneum are not eliminated properly. In addition, there is an accelerated and abnormal proliferation of keratinocytes of the sebaceous glands, which block the entrance of the pore, forming microcomedones.
These two factors are the main reasons why oily skin has shinier areas (due to excess oil), enlarged pores and uneven skin texture (due to epidermal disorganization or dyskeratosis).
- Oily skin can generate a major dermatological problem, which is acne. This alteration presents a series of characteristic signs
- Increased sebum production
- Increased bacterial activity on the skin.
- Inflammation of the skin.
For these reasons, acneic skin manifests as macules, papules, pustules, and even nodules and cysts.
Key word for acne: the sebaceous gland
Sebaceous glands are distributed all over the skin of the human body, except for the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The size of the sebaceous glands varies according to their location. The areas of the body where the glands are largest and most numerous are the face, especially the forehead, and the upper back. Most of the sebaceous glands in these areas are connected to a hair follicle, giving rise to the pilosebaceous follicle.
In the sebaceous gland, there are three types of cells: undifferentiated, differentiated and mature. Near the basement membrane are undifferentiated cells, which are pushed into the exit canal, becoming differentiated cells that contain lipids. As the cells mature, they become loaded with lipids on the inside, eventually disintegrating and expelling the cell-free sebaceous secretion outside the duct. Enzymes, such as acid hydrolases, play a very important role in the final autolysis.
Skin problems caused by acne
An irregular relief
The deficient cellular renewal of the stratum corneum, associated with an excessive production of fats, means that these fats cannot go outside in their entirety and accumulate inside the pilosebaceous follicle, producing an irregular relief on the skin.
The dilated pore can occur in all skin types, but it is more characteristic of oily skin with acne tendency. Since this type of skin produces excess sebum, the walls of the pilosebaceous follicle are deformed. The result is skin with very open pores, mainly on the cheeks, nose and forehead.
Localized shine on the face is directly associated with excess lipid production in the pilosebaceous follicle. This excess of fat that rises to the surface of the skin generates a shiny appearance in the so-called T-zone: forehead and nose.
In oily skin with a tendency to acne, this imperfection is frequently found: the excess oil produced does not exit entirely outside the pilosebaceous follicle, but a part remains in the outermost part of the duct, forming a plug and obstructing the pore. This is how the basic lesion called a comedo forms, a small inflammation of the pore that houses the sebum in the follicle. The characteristic black color of the comedo is not due to dirt, as is sometimes believed, but to the accumulation of melanin. Another theory postulates that air oxidizes the lipids that make up this fatty plug, turning it into a dark brown color. This comedo is commonly called a "blackhead". The manifestation of comedones on the face determines that it is a non-inflammatory acne.
Redness is a manifestation of skin inflammation. The reddish appearance of a certain area of the skin can be associated with a future pimple. Sometimes the entire skin is slightly red and this may be due to the fact that excess lipids synthesized can be irritating.
The obstruction of the channel of the hair follicle closed by an accumulation of sebum and corneocytes becomes an ideal terrain for fungi and bacteria that normally inhabit the skin, such as Sthaphylococcus epidermis , Pityrosporum ovale , Pityrosporum orbiculare and Propionebacterium acnes . The latter is the most abundant and a usual resident of the follicle.
What ingredients are useful for acne-prone skin?
- Sebum-regulating active ingredients
- This group includes: Sulfur molecules, amino acids or derivatives that regulate excessive sebaceous secretion: thioxolone, cysteine, s-carboxymethyl cysteine, thiazolidine carboxylic acid, etc.
- Zinc salts are also used because they control sebaceous hypersecretion in oily or pre-acne skin.
- Blends of plant extracts with antiseborrheic and astringent properties such as Arnica montana , Betuna alba , Cupresus sempervirens , CBD, Rosmarinus officinalis , Urtica ureas , juniper, etc.
- Vegetable oils enriched in linoleic acid (type of omega-6 fatty acid) such as sunflower, safflower and evening primrose oil, hemp oil, etc. To learn more about linoleic acid, read our article HERE.
- Extract of pumpkin seed oil, Cucurbita pepo, which contains 80% unsaturated fats. It blocks the dihydrotestosterone receptors in the cells of the sebaceous glands, thus preventing the formation of sebum.
- Active ingredients that prevent follicle clogging
- These are active ingredients that balance the development of keratin that clogs the pores of the follicles, prevent the formation of new comedones and help drain existing comedones, thus also preventing inflammation:
- Sulfur, resorcinol and salicylic acid are frequently used as keratolytics in low concentrations, as they are not very irritating to oily skin, since they promote superficial desquamation and prevent the obstruction of the follicular canal, thus improving the drainage of excess sebum towards the outside of the follicle
- Some cosmetics are formulated with abrasive ingredients to improve skin renewal without sensitizing it.
- Salicylic acid solubilizes the intercellular cement, exerting a keratoregulatory action; it is miscible with the sebaceous substances accumulated in the follicle and favors their expulsion towards the outside.
- Alpha-hydroxy acids - glycolic, lactic, pyruvic, malic acids, etc. - decrease the cohesion of the keratinocytes of the horny layer, stimulate cell renewal and improve skin hydration. The most commonly used is glycolic acid.
- Vitamin A derivatives, such as retinaldehyde, regulate keratinization abnormalities thanks to their retinoid function and fight against the proliferation of P. acnes, thanks to their aldehyde radical. They therefore act by preventing the obstruction of the follicle and a possible infection. In other cosmetics, we found vitamin A palmitate.
- Moderators of bacterial proliferation
- These are substances that reduce the number of bacteria inside the follicles by various chemical processes: Octopyrox / glycacil association. It is effective in the fight against bacterial proliferation.
- Benzoyl peroxide. It is one of the most used active ingredients in acne. It has antibacterial, keratolytic and anti-inflammatory properties. It acts by forming oxygen ions that are toxic for germs. The disadvantage of this molecule is its irritating and exfoliating potential, which can cause irritation, scaling and even dermatitis in the patient. This is why it is generally advisable to start the treatment with a low dose and to increase it when these side effects are tolerated.
- Azelaic acid. This is an organic acid, known as dicarboxylic acid, which slows down the growth of infectious agents such as Staphylococcus aureus and P. acnes. It also inhibits the activity of 5alpha reductase, thus regulating the synthesis of skin fats. In addition, it modifies the differentiation of keratinocytes.
- Nicotinamide, niacinamide, or vitamin PP. It inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis and mast cell degranulation, so it has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action.
- It inhibits the activity of P. acnes and P. ovale, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Cetrimonium chloride. It acts as an antibacterial agent.
- This group includes: Zinc gluconate. It inhibits the secretion of lipases by P. acnes and also inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis, thus preventing the inflammatory process.
- It has bactericidal, emollient and anti-inflammatory properties.
Skin care routine for acne-prone skin
Treatments to correct facial seborrhea should focus on establishing a daily cleansing habit that removes excess oil from the skin.
For oily skin, the habit of cleansing with a specific cosmetic is essential, as it prevents the accumulation of sebum on the surface of the skin.
Facial cleansing for oily skin is based on the use of cosmetics with a low percentage of lipids. It should be kept in mind that some lipids are comedogenic and have a high detergent power.
Synthetic soaps and hydroalcoholic gels are used for cleansing oily skin, as their texture is pleasant and very refreshing. It is important to cleanse the skin morning and evening, removing the cleansing cosmetic with plenty of water.
It is very important that we insist on moisturizing oily or acne-prone skin, as many clients have the misconception that oily skin does not need to be moisturized. The synthesis of excess oil does not have a direct relationship with skin hydration, one can even find oily skin dehydrated. Therefore, we recommend a moisturizing cream with a very low lipid content, in order to maintain the skin's optimal level of hydration.
It is also important to remember that it is not necessary to scratch, touch or rub the lesions.
Inner and Outer Balance
Since there is no single cause of skin acne, such as hormonal factors, exposure to extreme climates, stress, endocrine alterations, certain tumors, and the use of certain medications, it is important to balance the skin through inner and outer balance.
Protect from the sun
It is essential to expose oneself to the sun with adequate sun protection, looking for formulas with a low lipid content. The sun tends to improve acne, although in some cases the lesions worsen some time after exposure. This is because the sun increases the thickness of the stratum corneum and the fat does not move outward. When the skin stops receiving sunlight, the stratum corneum thins, regains its normal thickness and all the fat accumulated during the summer comes out. This phenomenon is often called "post-holiday rebound acne".
In this type of skin, it is advisable to use an exfoliating cosmetic at least once a week, as they remove the most superficial dead cells from the corneal layer and the dirt from the pores, thus avoiding the formation of pimples or blackheads.