Oily skin is a pain all year round, but summers can cause especially bothersome conditions for this type of skin. If you struggle with oily skin already, experiencing hot, humid summer months -- like those in the south -- can make oil production worse. This can lead to acne breakouts and other issues. Here’s why oily skin tends to act up in the summer and how you can treat and prevent it.
People with oily skin naturally produce more sebum -- the technical term for oil -- than others. Due to a variety of factors including biology, lifestyle, and genetics, the pores on the skin overproduce oil. Sebum is necessary to keep skin cells hydrated and lubricated, but when it’s overproduced, it can cause skin conditions like acne.
When the pores -- known as comedones -- produce more oil than the skin needs, it can lead to breakouts. Acne happens when sebum mixes with sweat, dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells to clog the pore. These blockages in the pores are either whiteheads (closed pores with blocked oil and pus under the surface, commonly called pimples) or blackheads (clogged pores with trapped oil exposed to the air, oxidized, and turned black). Acne can occur anywhere on the body but is commonly found on the face, chest, and back.
Summertime seems to be especially problematic for those with oily skin. There are a few reasons for this. For one, excess sweat from the heat and humidity in summer months doesn’t help those who are already producing lots of oil. Additionally, when those with oily skin are frequently exposed to more dirt, sand, saltwater, or chlorine than normal, it can upset their sebum production as well. Once sebum mixes with these substances, it can lead to acne breakouts.
Back acne is a common problem during summer, as wet swimsuits and sweaty clothing from outdoor activity can exacerbate breakouts. And let’s not forget about sunscreen products, which are often comedogenic (meaning that they clog pores).
If you have oily skin and are constantly suffering with acne, you should see a dermatologist for their recommendation of acne treatments. A doctor will be able to prescribe acne medication if needed. Two cosmetic treatments that can help alleviate acne symptoms are microdermabrasion and chemical peels. While microdermabrasion is a physical exfoliant and chemical peels are a chemical exfoliant, both work to effectively remove the top layer of dead skin cells. This also removes excess dirt, oil, and bacteria from the skin, minimizing the chances of acne breakouts. Exfoliation is vital for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
Always change out of wet swimsuits or sweaty clothing as soon as possible. If you’re in the sun for long periods of time, take breaks to wipe off your face, chest, and back with a cool, damp cloth, and sit in front of a fan if possible. Choose clothing like lightweight cotton rather than polyester or nylon, which don’t wick away moisture, keeping it trapped on the skin. Always look for the label “non-comedogenic” on all skin care products, especially sunscreens. And rinse off in a shower after swimming in a pool or the ocean.
Need help managing your oily skin this summer? If you’re in Baton Rouge or the surrounding areas, contact Louisiana Dermatology Associates today for an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists.