If you already suffer from acne, you might have noticed that warm (and especially humid) summer months can make your symptoms worse. Let’s talk through some of the factors that can cause flare ups during summer, how to prevent breakouts, and how to get rid of acne if it does show up.
First, it’s important to understand that acne is caused when the small pores on the skin -- called comedones -- produce excess oil, also known as sebum. This can happen in times of high stress, when hormones are changing, as a result of eating certain foods, or in response to irritants in skin care products, chemicals, or clothing material. In the summer, when excess sebum is produced, it mixes with sweat, dirt, and dead skin cells, eventually becoming trapped in the pores and causing a blockage.
A closed pore with the blocked oil and pus under the surface is called a whitehead. Blackheads are also clogged pores, but since they’re open at the top, the trapped oil is exposed to the air. This results in oxidation, causing that black speckled appearance. Warmer summer temperatures mean more sweat, and exposure to irritants like dirt, sand, saltwater, or chlorine can exacerbate skin conditions like acne, causing breakouts. Additionally, many sunscreens are oil-based, and they may even be comedogenic, which means that their ingredients are pore-clogging and not suitable for oily or acne-prone skin.
The best step to reduce acne is to take preventative measures. If you’re not using gentle, high-quality skin care products formulated for oily skin, it’s time to start. Cleansing, toning, and moisturizing twice a day can drastically reduce the chances of developing acne. Adding in an exfoliating treatment once a month is also a primary way to reduce breakouts. Since acne develops when sebum and dead skin cells combine, exfoliating with a facial or chemical peel can help slough off any dead skin that could cause problems.
Lifestyle choices matter too. Try to limit the amount of time you spend outside in the intense heat or humidity, and change out of sweaty clothes or wet bathing suits immediately. Choose fibers like lightweight cotton rather than polyester or nylon, which don’t wick away moisture. Frequently cool off by going into an air conditioned room, sitting in front of a fan, or wiping down your face with a clean, dry cloth.
And make sure any sunscreens you’re using are labeled “oil-free.” Generally, mineral-based sunscreen products work best for those with acne-prone skin. Common ingredients in these include zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Don’t skimp on sunscreen -- you’ll need to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can cause skin cancer. Just find a product that doesn’t irritate your acne.
If you’re in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas and need help managing your acne this summer, contact Louisiana Dermatology Associates today for an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists. We can provide you with acne medication if needed and chemical peel facial treatments.