January 9, 2015

Adult Acne in the Presence of Dehydration: Part 2



In Part One, I discussed how dehydrated skin can contribute to adult acne breakouts and blackheads. Blackheads, also known as “open comedones,” are made of a mixture of oil and dead skin-cells.  

Within the area known as the "t-zone” they're not only normal, but blackheads are actually beneficial! The oil of your skin is slightly acidic, which kills a lot of bacteria that hit your skin from the air - more oil in the t-zone means protection for your eyes, nose and mouth from bacterial invasion. The mix of dead skin cells makes this all stay in place, as oil and dead skin cells that are not mixed together also come out to the surface.  

Over time, this mix exchanges itself as cell turnover and constant release of oil get pushed out of your pores every day onto the surface of your skin joining other substances your skin makes to provide your skin’s entire protective barrier known as the “Acid Mantle”.

But what if this mix has difficulty coming out? What if blackheads keep building up more and more inside the pore? What if the separate oils and dead skin cells also can’t come out?

Three things can happen:
1. Blackheads get bigger and more visible.  
The dark top, giving the “blackhead” name of this impaction, is not actually dirt.  It’s the oil and dead skin cell mixture turning dark upon exposure to the air in a chemical process known as “oxidation" - this is why they are dark at the tip and off-white at the bottom.  More accumulation of the mix means bigger, darker blackheads.
2. Oil and dead skin-cells can get stuck behind stiffened blackheads and skin that has been pulled tight.

This can cause colorless bumps as blackheads get closed in on (kind of like “oil balloons” under the skin).


Sometimes acne pimples can form from these bumps, but most of the time they just stay there until they are squeezed out (please do not do this at home). These are what we call “closed comedones”, which have other causes as well, but dehydration can be one of the causes.

Another type of hard bump called “milia”, which looks like an off-white pearl right under the skin, are often caused by dehydration, but other people besides acne sufferers get these. 

It’s especially important to know the difference between “closed comedones” and “milia”.
3. Impactions block oil and dead skin-cells from being properly purged.
Anything that would bother pores whatsoever from pore-irritating skincare products, along with friction from your hands, fingers, or even your scarf, will cause more inflammation. The openings and linings of some of your pores will get irritated, swollen, red and painful. With the combination of these three things, there’s your acne breakout! 

These issues are even more problematic for those over the age of 30 as the skin the produces fewer protective substances and as fine lines and wrinkles cause more chance for obstruction within the pores.

When it comes to taking care of your adult acne, breakouts, and blemishes, a well-established skincare routine with lab-formulated products is essential to restore hydration and balance to your skin. So, what can you do if you have adult acne or are typically oily but find yourself with dryness?

Most importantly: Your cleanser must be non-drying but still rinse well and the use of an alcohol-free toner is required after each washing. Non-clogging, hydrating SPF15+ must be used every day no matter the weather or home/office lighting. Specialty products should include: hydrating serums that contain lipidsBeta Glucans, and antioxidants, in addition to nighttime lotions that repair, replenish, and hydrate.



Want to learn more about how dehydration might be playing a role in your acne breakouts?

Please email me or comment below with any questions whatsoever, or fill out my Eval by Email® Online Skincare Consultation form. Remember, this service is available to anywhere in the USA and is designed for adult acne sufferers from Gen-Xers to Baby Boomers, especially those who are also dealing with aging issues.

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