We all know it is impossible to live in a perfect environment for our skin-a bubble where the oxygen and humidity levels are synergistically balanced. Instead we must wade through the muck of harmful toxins all around us.
Although it may be unrealistic to shield yourself from all environmental pollutants harmful to your skin, it is helpful to be aware of some of the risks and know what you can do to protect yourself the best you can.
In this first section, we'll talk about harsh elements that can mess with your skin. And then follow up with a discussion about products available to you to help you conquer even the environment.
Understanding the Elements
Maybe you live near a major city? If so, you are up against factors such as pollution and smog. However, even if you live in a rural area, you are up against pesticides and free-floating radicals carried in the wind patterns. No, we aren't talking about some scary sci-fi film. This is the reality of the modern world we live in.
Understand your body produces acne as a protective mechanism. Those pesky pustules and nodules form in an effort to extract toxins from your body. The benefit is that your skin is protecting your body from absorbing toxins into your liver and causing health problems. The bummer is that all of this results in unpleasant skin blemishes.
Smoke is another major culprit of clogged pores. Nicotine is visible in filters as a yellowish substance and can be seen in the discoloration in smokers' fingers. It's no wonder it harms our skin. Nicotine, tar, and smoke are harmful because they reduce blood circulation to the skin. Additionally, smoking dulls the skin color and causes the oh-so-dreaded wrinkles. It is quite clear that smoking causes deterioration to the skin and should be avoided by all people-especially acne sufferers.
Marijuana is also a major problem for people dealing with acne. Studies have shown that particularly females who smoke this substance experience an increase in testosterone levels which affects body and facial hair and causes acne. Just say no...for real! Who needs to partake in something that is bad for your health and increases your chance for acne?
So now we know more about the pollutants in the air that we can control, what about the ones out of our control? Believe it or not, indoor air pollution can have significant effects on your health and skin. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times and, in some cases, more than 100 times greater than outdoor levels.
98% of office buildings today have air-conditioning. While we usually think of air conditioning as being a good thing, many physicians believe that these systems harbor infectious diseases and carry harmful bacteria.
Heat and humidity may also play a role in causing acne. People who work in industrial environments with high heat and humidity-like kitchens and laundry-mats-have been known to suffer from acne. Our own research team believes the reason behind this is an excess absorption of moisture to the skin, which can cause the skin to swell, restricting the opening of sebaceous follicles and restricting the outflow of sebum, which spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E for your skin.
We all know the damage sun's ultraviolet rays can cause to skin, but avoiding the bulk of the harm is as easy as using skin protection. Look for products with a minimum Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15, which means you can stay in the sun 15 times longer and remain protected.
There's a lot of crazy info out there, so don't be misled. For example, while some people believe sun can improve acne or make it less noticeable. In reality, the sun damages your follicular walls, clogging your pores, resulting in MORE ACNE that may not resurface for three to four weeks after the sun exposure.
Choosing the Right Products
How many acne products have you tried? Most acne sufferers bounce from product to product, growing more frustrated with each product's failure. Let's take a look at a few popular treatments for acne and some of the potential problems with these products.
The conventional treatment for comedonal acne (blackheads and whiteheads) is a topical product containing Tretinoin (synthetic vitamin A). Some of the adverse affects of such a product include mild irritation of the skin to reddish, wind-burned looking skin and dryness.
Inflammatory acne (pimples and pistules) is commonly treated with either topical or systemic antibiotic treatment in addition to the topical Tretinoin. Benzoyl peroxide in 2.5% to 10% concentrations is also a popular and effective choice, but often people experience severe irritation with this topical solution.
People with acne that mostly involves deep nodules with scarring and people who do not respond to the oral antibiotic therapy are often considered for what is called isotretinoin treatment. This is a metabolite of vitamin A that can greatly help the skin, but also comes with its fair share of nasty side effects: dryness on skin, lips, and in the nose and eyes. Some people even experience hair thinning! Although not as common, there have also been complaints of muscle and joint pain. One serious problem with this treatment is the potential for birth defects if the woman using the medication becomes pregnant. Women of childbearing age must take extreme care to avoid pregnancy while taking this drug.
Aren't you excited about all of these possible acne treatments?!?! (Notice the sarcasm!) You can't be. Reading this list is somewhat depressing, because no one wants to endure horrible side effects, even if it means better skin.
Don't lose hope!
Today you are sure to find products which will provide you with the following benefits:
* Bactericidal effect on the causative organisms (Propionibacterium acnes P.acnes)
* Modulation of the follicular inflammatory response to P.acnes
* Modulation of the follicular immune response to P.acnes
* Prevention of comedonal secondary infection with any other organisms like Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria and pathogenic fungi.
* Decrease of the rate of eptithelial proliferation of the nodular acne
* Decrease of the rate of proliferation and the size of individual keratinocytes that accompany the healing process of the inflammatory nodules and lead to permanent scar
* Restoration of tissue integrity to avoid being disfigured because of the acne
* Normalize sebum secretion to avoid follicular plugging
* Moisturize the skin to give comfort sensation
* Finally and most important, it is completely safe and all its components act synergistically.