When people complain of oily skin, they are most often referring to the skin on their face. Oily skin is also the largest contributor towards acne. This page will give a little information on the causes and treatments of oily skin and acne.
The Cause of Oily Skin
The oil is produced by oil glands known as sebaceous glands. These glands are bigger and more active in the region of the nose than any other areas of the face. This is why the nose tends to be a trouble area for even those with normal skin. The pores in this area are also larger, in order to accommodate the large flow of oil produced. Other areas on the body where sebaceous glands are most heavily concentrated are the neck, chest, and back-areas where body acne can be common.
The amount of oil that an individual makes is determined by genetics. It is affected by hormones and what is called an "end organ response". The oil gland is considered the end organ because it is this gland that is acted upon by hormones. Many people have the same level of hormones, but make different amount of oil because their oil glands respond differently. During adolescence, a surge in the level of sex hormones, known as androgens, creates a problem of oily skin where sometimes there was none. The reason is that androgens enlarge and stimulate the sebaceous glands, causing them to produce more sebum. While this stimulation is not directly responsible for acne, the extra sebum for which they're responsible produces more fatty acids when a comedo plug closes off a pore opening. The additional fatty acids increase the amount of inflammation, and more severe acne occurs.
Despite all the trouble that sebum causes, it is very important to the maintenance of the skin. When the system is working properly, sebum performs the important job of helping to lubricate your skin. Sebum also carries with it dead skin cells shedding from your hair follicle walls. For someone with oily skin, the best thing to do is to take measures to keep pores from getting clogged and forming acne lesions.
Caring for Oily Skin
Remember, there is no way to completely prevent oily skin from occurring, but hopefully these tips will help keep the oil and acne under control:
- Although dirt and oil on the surface of the skin do not cause acne, excessive oil on your skin may exacerbate the clogging of pore openings, so proper washing is often a good way to keep the situation from becoming worse. Washing with very hot water, harsh soaps or cleansers will not improve existing acne or prevent future flare-ups. In fact, these methods can dry and irritate your skin so badly that you will not be able to use effective acne medications in cream or gel form. Most topical acne medications have a drying effect on oily skin.
- Try a mild cleanser that cleanses without drying or try a Salicylic Acid based wash or peel.
- Do not use any oil-based cosmetics, which will only aggravate oily skin and create further blemishes.
- Use water-based, non-comedogenic cosmetics.
- Always remove your makeup before going to bed, but avoid cold creams and lotions, which may leave a greasy film on your skin.
- Watch your diet. However, it is not chocolate or sweets that you need to watch, some doctors believe that an increased consumption of iodine aggravates acne, and they suggest reduction or elimination of fish and iodized salt.
- Relax! Doctors have seen a connection between stress and acne for a long time. Studies have shown that the body produces more androgens when a person is under stress. The increase may trigger acne flare-ups by stimulating the sebaceous glands to pump out more sebum. Even physical stresses, such as colds, allergies, surgery, or menstruation, can trigger break-outs.
Skin Care and Topical Treatments for Acne
First of all, there are the topical acne medications that most people with oily sin or acne have tried. Here is a brief description of those:
Benzoyl Peroxide- This medication works in two ways. First, it goes after bacteria, which are crucial in the development of acne. Without bacteria, the sebum trapped under the skin would not become the fatty acids that cause all the swelling and inflammation in and around acne blemishes. Second, some studies show that benzoyl peroxide may also peel the dead skin cells from inside your hair follicles, to keep plugs from forming.
Sulfur, Resorcinol, and Salicylic acids- These are older and proven methods which start mostly on the surface of your skin and work themselves deep down into the follicles where bacteria originates to help heal existing blemishes by unclogging pores. Salicylic acid is particularly effective on blackheads.
Topical antibiotics- These medicines are used by doctors to treat certain kinds of acne, such as pustules and papules, but they may not be strong enough to have an effect on larger cysts. Topical antibiotics work by attacking the bacteria that are strongly linked with acne problems. Like other topical treatments, these tend to dry and irritate the skin, so be sure to use proper cleansing and moisturizing.
Retinoic acid- Also known as Retin-A, this is another topical medicine used by doctors to treat acne. Like benzoyl peroxide, retinoic acid works by peeling skin cells from the hair follicles so that plugs do not form. Be warned that at first it may aggravate your acne, and that it can take two to three months for any real improvement.