Solutions to Your Acne Problem Skin
Some people are blessed with skin that never wrinkles and that springs right back after acne. Acne and problem skin, however, require special solutions. The two types of skin that suffer the most acne problems are very fair and very dark.
- People who are endowed with naturally dry skin often have to deal with recurring bouts of skin inflammation and acne.
- People who are endowed with naturally oily skin often have to deal with permanent skin pigmentation after acne outbreaks.
- Dryness and oiliness are not limited to any particular skin tone (fair skin can be oily and dark skin can be dry), but certain ethnic groups tend to have special skin problems.
- Certain products are almost always helpful for acne on dry problem skin.
- Certain practices are almost always harmful for acne on oily problem skin.
This article explains acne and problem-prone dry skin, acne and problem-prone oily skin, allergies and acne, digestive problems that manifest themselves as skin problems, dealing with dry skin acne, and dealing with oily skin acne.
Acne and Problem-Prone Dry Skin
People who have dry, tight, sensitive, and pimple-prone skin often suffer1 common acne, rosacea, eczema, or even all three skin problems. Dry, sensitive skin can be a source of irritation and embarrassment2 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Probably you have heard the expression “Walk a mile in my shoes.” Well, no one who has any other skin type would want to spend a day in your skin. Every moment of every day, dry problem skin can cause never-ending distress3.
Dealing with dryness the wrong way causes acne on problem-prone fair skin4. The skin dries out, revealing a rough layer of red skin. It is only sensible to use a moisturizer to restore the normal color of the skin. The problem with using most moisturizers is that they contain alcohol, herb extracts, essential oils, fragrances, and perfumes that trigger an allergic reaction. The allergic reactions tighten the skin, trapping sebum inside pores, fueling the bacteria that cause acne.
The very first step in treating acne on dry, fair skin is to moisturize the right way5. There is no downside to using a humidifier or a vaporizer if you live in a dry climate, whether the problem is desert heat or winter cold. Simply drinking 5 cups (1200 ml) of water a day is enough to prevent dehydration. But choices in skin care products are not quite as straightforward.
Although dry skin problems are more common, say, in northern Sweden than in southern Italy, people of all ethnic origins and all skin colors can have sensitive dry skin. The nuances of your genetic heritage have a lot to do with your optimal choices in skin care products.
- Any foaming product aggravates acne if you have dry skin.
- People of Asian ancestry, especially Japanese ancestry, get particularly bad reactions to foaming cleansers.
- Hydroquinone peels, often used to remove acne blemishes, can cause permanent black pigmentation of the skin in many dry skin types6.
So what is the solution for treating acne on dry skin? More than anything else, effective acne care consists of hydrating, hydrating, and hydrating some more. The best moisturizers are simple products7. If you are looking for something natural, choose shea butter, cocoa butter, or jojoba oil. Don’t avoid products that contain cholesterol, which is a natural moisturizer for your skin. Ceramides are helpful, too.
If you have dry skin, you need to use moisturizer at least 2 or 3 times a day8, or even more. And beware of expensive products that contain fragrances. These can make your skin worse.
If you take care of moist6ure problems, then acne care is a lot easier, but acne care only works in the context of complete dry skin care.
- Use gentle skin cleansers9, like Aveeno Positively Radiant Cleansing Pads, CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Pond’s Deep Cleansing Cold Cream, or La Roche Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser. You can also cleanse your skin with10 oil. It can be something as simple as jojoba oil, or maybe a product like Shu Uemura Cleansing Beauty Oil.
- After cleansing your skin, spray your skin with facial waters to hydrate. These are products made with water that is free of chlorine, which irritates the skin, and which contains selenium and/or sulfur, which “calms” the skin. Make sure the water does not evaporate before applying your moisturizer, or you won’t get any benefit from the water spray.
- Then treat any acne blemishes with a retinol cream. Retinol is a form of vitamin A that stimulates the growth of the skin. This keeps dry skin from becoming tight and trapping acne bacteria inside pores.
Acne and Problem-Prone Oily Skin
People who have problem-prone oily skin often suffer an endless cycle of blemishes11, followed by brown spots, followed by more blemishes. The solution for problem-prone oily skin, however, is not to dry it out.
Probably the most bedeviling thing about acne on oily problem-prone skin is that reaching adulthood does not make the acne go away12. In fact, it can get worse, especially in women. Taking birth control pills, or getting pregnant, can cause changes in estrogen and progesterone that increase oil production I the skin.
Pores get clogged and develop pimples. Pimples clear up but leave brown spots called melasma13. The darker the skin tones, the darker the melasma. Products designed to clear up brown spots can leave permanent black spots if applied to the wrong skin types. Getting a grip on acne care, however, can break the cycle of acne, skin discoloration, and more acne.
What is the one danger to oily skin that most acne sufferers don’t know about? Heat! Any kind of heat outside the body can cause inflammation inside the body. In acne sufferers who have sensitive, oily skin, body waxing, sunburns, and irritating skin care ingredients can cause brown spots to develop anywhere on the body. Anything that causes redness will cause “brownness” later on, and these brown spots can last longer than the pimples, sunburn, or contact irritants that preceded them. Months, years, or even decades longer, in fact.
What do people who have sensitive oily skin need to do to stop the cycle14? Here is a plan for stopping inflammation in oily skin. First, it is important to avoid situations that make acne worse.
- Don’t pluck facial hairs with tweezers. This can traumatize pores and cause acne.
- Don’t use hair removers, like Nair. This also causes acne and melasma.
- Razors that deliver a close shave usually trigger acne on sensitive, oily skin.
- Hot, spicy foods or drinks can trigger acne outbreaks or rosacea attacks. Avoid them.
- Pomades for the hair not only can cause scalp acne, they can cause inflammation that leads to baldness, in both men and women.
- Sauna or steam baths can also trigger acne flare-ups.
Then it is important to treat acne-affected skin each every day.
- Every morning, use a cleanser containing salicylic acid15, which keeps pores open and clears up inflammation, the red spots that become brown spots. Use benzoyl peroxide rather than tea tree oil to treat active pimples. Tea tree oil contains essential oils that usually are helpful, but not for oily, sensitive skin.
- Apply a moisturizer if you have “combination skin,” that is, if your ordinarily oily skin has been dried out by sun or heat.
- Apply a sunscreen before you go outdoors. If you never get under the sun without wearing sunblock, be sure to take vitamin D.
Some cleansers that contain salicylic acid include:
- Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Care Purifying Gel Cleanser
- Olay Total Effects Anti-Aging Anti-Blemish Cleanser
- Clear & Clean Advantage Acne Cleanser
- Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash
If you have special problems with skin irritation, treat them right away with a product like Eucerin Gentle Hydrating Cleanser or Topix Citrix Antioxidant Cleanser. And if you skin feels oily, try a toner like Josie Maran Argan Bear Naked Wipes or Paula’s Choice Healthy Skin Refreshing Toner.
What should people with oily sensitive skin do about pimples16? Never, ever treat a pimple with a hot washcloth! Ice cubes don’t help, either. It’s better to apply benzoyl peroxide and/or salicylic acid and just leave the pimple alone until it heals. The less the pimple is inflamed, the less brown pigmentation it will leave behind.
- Farage MA. The Prevalence of Sensitive Skin. Front Med (Lausanne). 2019 May 17;6:98.
- Andriessen A. Prevention, recognition and treatment of dry skin conditions. Br J Nurs. 2013 Jan 10-23;22(1):26-30.
- Guenther L, Lynde CW, Andriessen A, Barankin B, Goldstein E, Skotnicki SP, Gupta SN, Choi KL, Rosen N, Shapiro L, Sloan K. Pathway to dry skin prevention and treatment. J Cutan Med Surg. 2012 Jan-Feb;16(1):23-31.
- org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Skin care for acne-prone skin. 2013 Jan 16. Updated 2016 Jul 28.
- Rosso JD, Zeichner J, Alexis A, Cohen D, Berson D. Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner: Proceedings of an Expert Panel Roundtable Meeting. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016 Apr;9(4 Suppl 1):S2-S8.
- Kim GH, Cheong KA, Lee AY. Increased Skin Irritation by Hydroquinone and Rsetinoic Acid Used in Combination. Ann Dermatol. 2017 Dec;29(6):715-721.
- Lawton S. Practical issues for emollient therapy in dry and itchy skin. Br J Nurs. 2009 Sep 10-23;18(16):978-84.
- Lodén M. Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(11):771-88.
- Vender RB, Andriessen A, Barankin B, Freiman A, Kyritsis D, Mistos LM, Salsberg J, Amar L. Cohort Using a Ceramides Containing Cleanser and Cream With Salicylic Acid for Dry, Flaking, and Scaling Skin Conditions. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019 Jan 1;18(1):80-85.
- Yuanxi L, Wei H, Lidan X, Li L. Comparison of skin hydration in combination and single use of common moisturizers (cream, toner, and spray water). J Cosmet Sci. 2016 May-Jun;67(3):175-83.
- Endly DC, Miller RA. Oily Skin: A review of Treatment Options. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017 Aug;10(8):49-55.
- Rocha MA, Bagatin E. Adult-onset acne: prevalence, impact, and management challenges. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 Feb 1;11:59-69.
- Chaowattanapanit S, Silpa-Archa N, Kohli I, Lim HW, Hamzavi I. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: A comprehensive overview: Treatment options and prevention. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 Oct;77(4):607-621.
- How to control oily skin | American Academy of Dermatology. Aad.org. 2019.
- Shalita AR. Comparison of a salicylic acid cleanser and a benzoyl peroxide wash in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Clin Ther. 1989 Mar-Apr;11(2):264-7.
- Goodman G. Cleansing and moisturizing in acne patients. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2009;10 Suppl 1:1-6.
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