Tired of photo correcting your images at your friend’s wedding or the summer pool party you recently attended, just to hide those ugly acne marks? Why not address the problem from the core, instead of going for cosmetic touch-ups. Summer is indeed the time when acne attacks almost with a vengeance, be it on your face or back. So this season needs special attention and care to ward of the woes.
Heat tends to aggravate acne causing inflammation or zits. “Oil-producing sebaceous glands become overactive in summer due to heat triggering blockage of skin pores. This results in the trapping of oil within these pores. Naturally, the body’s immune system tries to get rid itself of this foreign substance, which causes inflammation and redness,” says Dr Navin Taneja of The National Skin Center.
Acne can also be a symptom of an underlying hormonal condition, and hence such outbreaks may not be limited to summer, especially for women. Outbreaks around the menstrual cycle aren’t uncommon for a woman.
“The sudden spike in testosterone and progesterone hormone, just before menstruation stimulates the production of sebum. The skin swells and pores are shut, causing further sebum build up. Higher hormonal levels also activate the sebaceous glands, producing more sebum and thereby acne outbreaks occur,” says gynaecologist Dr Rita Bakshi of International Fertility Centre.
Special care to keep back and shoulder acne at bay
Acne on the back and shoulders is very common in summer and very difficult to treat as well. “The skin on the back is tougher and has more oil-producing sebaceous glands, which are larger than similar glands on the face. These glands are hyper active in summer, and hence back and shoulders acne is larger and severe,” says Dr Seema Malik of Eleganza. “Freeze rose water to make ice cubes and rub them repeatedly over the acne affected areas. The healing properties of rose water will soothe your skin. Always remove any kind of makeup from face or shoulder properly. Do not scratch, and avoid scrubbing as that’ll spread it further. Check the ‘non Comedogenic’ label on your makeup products,” advises Dr Malik.
Seek expert help for severe acne
A short course of oral antibiotics may be needed to treat severe acne, so it’s better to see a doctor. “Antibiotics will reduce bacteria and fight inflammation. However, for deep cysts, Isotretinoin, a powerful medication may be needed but strictly under a doctor’s guidance. Oral contraceptives that balance your hormones can also help, but they may have other side effects,” says Dr Navin Taneja. If you are ready to splurge, you can also opt for advanced corrective treatments such as laser and light therapies. “Laser treatments damage the oil glands, causing them to produce less oil, while light therapy targets the bacteria that cause acne inflammation,” adds Dr Taneja.
Work out your way to acne-free skin
Exercise can help control acne by taming the testosterone hormone that cause excess production of sebum. Cortisol or the ‘stress hormone’, produced by the adrenal gland just above the kidney, is also linked with acne. Cortisol secretion increases when a person is under stress, starving or sleep-deprived. Exercise helps tame cortisol levels. “A 30-45 minute long brisk walk or slow jog several times a week may help reduce acne by normalising the hormones that contribute to those ugly bumps and pustules,” says Dr Anju Ghei of VLCC Healthcare.
Walk, jog, cycle: Outdoor exercises pamper your skin with fresh air and a bit of sun. One of the best exercises is swimming, as water keeps your skin hydrated.
Feel good: Find an activity that you love doing. It can be yoga, Pilates or anything that helps you feel better from within, thus triggering secretion of the feel good hormones. Regular physical exercise helps release endorphins that can boost your confidence and self esteem.
Deep breathing: It is probably the simplest, most effective relaxation technique. Shallow, rapid breathing is a common reaction to stress. So deep, slow breathing can interrupt your stress response and help you to relax. Close your eyes. Breathe out slowly and completely through your mouth. Watch your stomach cave in as you breathe out. Now breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Watch your stomach expand as you breathe in. Hold for five seconds, then exhale and begin the cycle again. Repeat at least five times.
Relax and Roll: Relax your shoulders and let your head roll forward, chin to chest. Slowly rotate your head in a circle without straining your neck. Repeat five times. Relax, and rotate in the opposite direction and repeat five times. Try not to raise your shoulders as you do this exercise.
The cooling effect of cucumber soothes the skin and in turn, prevents acne outbreaks. Cucumber is also a source of natural astringent, and hence is very effective when it comes to tightening skin pores.
The acidic property of lemon is quite beneficial for acne treatment. Take a slice of lemon, rub it on your face, leave it for a few hours and rinse off with cold water. Lemon cleans the dirt accumulated on the pores, and hardens the sebum.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil acts like an antiseptic and helps in removing damaged skin cells by slightly irritating the skin. This oil is like a solvent and cuts through grease and dirt, thus unblocking the pores. Its antibacterial properties prevents further outbreaks. You can even add a few drops to your bucket of water for bathing.
Aloe Vera juice
Aloe Vera cannot cure acne but its natural healing and soothing properties reduces swelling and redness of acne. Just pick a thick leaf from an aloe vera plant, wash and process in a juicer, and dab the juice with a cotton ball on the affected area, twice daily.
Neem kills the bacteria that often cause acne. Make a paste of neem leaves by adding little water, and apply it on the affected areas. Leave for about 30 minutes and rose off with cold water. To treat back acne, boil a bunch of clean neem leaves in water, and let the water cool, bathe twice daily with this water.
Right Diet to Fight Acne
Fibre plays an important role in getting rid of body toxins. Eat cereals and fibre-rich food and vegetables such as blueberries, grapefruit to detoxify body and clear your skin. Include Vitamin A in your diet as it is a good source of carotenoids that reduces sebum production. Carrots, papaya, spinach,and tomato juice are all rich sources of carotenoids.
Avoid processed foods as they are high in saturated fats and transfat, and can lead to an increase in sebum production, thereby triggering acne. If you have a persistent acne problem then food items like deep fried chips, French fries, pakodas, aloo tikkis etc are a strict no-no for you. The saturated oil content also increases cholesterol in the body, leading to poor blood circulation, and this can worsen your acne problem.