Blemishes can cause embarrassment and lack of self-esteem, especially for us bodybuilders who love to show off our muscles. The good news is that acne is not your fault. And here's even better news: There's much you can do to control and prevent it.
It's not your fault!
The biggest myth about acne is that bacteria and dirt cause it. That's not true! Your hormones and your skin's inability to shed off old, dead cells cause acne. (This is why when you take a testosterone booster it can lead to breakouts) Your genes determine these factors.
This next topic on the cause of acne is debated by doctors, scientists, and people like you and I. Some medical studies show that diet - including chocolate, pizza and french fries - rarely affects acne. While others show that they will make acne worse. You need to be the judge on this topic though. I'm sure that you know if certain foods make you break out or not. If you know that cheese aggravates your acne try and stay away from it.
Also take note that scrubbing and overwashing is not the answer for treating acne. The secret is to know what factors trigger flare-ups in your skin and avoid them.
Avoid excessive sun exposure
Small amounts of sun exposure will initially improve acne. However, the benefit is temporary. Consistent sun bathing will increase plugging of the pores and increases the production of whiteheads and blackheads, which makes acne worse. It can also lead to premature aging and skin cancer. Now I know this is hard for some of us to stay indoors all day because of reasons such as our job or tanning. For me it's extremely hard because I'm a lifeguard at an outdoor pool. So I recommend using a product that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and provides a SPF of at least 15. Some of these products are also made especially not to block pores.
Check your vitamins and supplements
This next bit of information is debated as to if it's right or wrong. Some say to avoid supplements with iodine in amounts greater that the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of 150 mcg. Normal amounts of iodine have not been shown to aggravate skin, amounts greater that the RDA may worsen acne. Then some say that taking 1 to 3 times the daily allowance will help your skin. I tend to think that iodine will not increase acne, but that's just an opinion. Also stay away from supplements that will increase your testosterone, for us teen's that shouldn't be taking those types of boosters yet anyway, this is not as much of a problem. But there are a few supplements that are safe for teens to take that will increase acne problems. ZMA is a perfect example of this. I just ran a test on some of my friends to see if ZMA really increases flare-ups. After a few weeks of taking ZMA all my friends acne had worsened a little. I like ZMA and I recommend it often but you have to way the gains and the downsides, which are increased breakouts.
Avoid over-washing acne prone areas
Limit washing to no more that two to three times per day. This goes for face, chest, neck, back, and where ever else you might break out. Washing more then three times per day can often irritate the skin, will offer no further benefit, and may lead to increased oil production. Products such as harsh facial scrubs with almond shell fragments or with high levels of isopropyl alcohol are not recommended because they tend to tear or irritate fragile skin, which can aggravate acne.
I know it's tempting to pick on your pimples but hold your self back! Squeezing and picking blemishes can force bacteria deeper into the skin, causing even greater inflammation and infection. Remember that picking leads to scarring. Also, the rubbing of your hands on your skin can lead to irritation and more pimples. I used to always touch my face and pick at it, but now that I've stopped my face has gotten dramatically better.
Keep your skin free of oils and bacteria
Just by starting a few healthy habits, you can keep your skin free of grime and bacteria that can cause pimples. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face, including resting your chin in your hands as you think or read. And try to take a shower and clean up after lifting and workouts.
Stress can raise levels of the hormone cortisone, which causes increased secretion of oil in your skin.
Try and follow a few simple rules when working out
Unfortunately for all us bodybuilding addicts exercising can lead to breakouts because it increases our hormones and tends to clog pores. There are a few steps to take that can reduce breakouts though. Always wear loose-fitting cotton cloths like the ones they sell here on Bodybuilding.com. Hopefully this next step won't apply to you; never wear any make up, even oil-free, non-comedogenic make-up can clog pores when you perspire. And if at all possible try and wash up after a workout. Following these simple rules will reduce breakouts that exercise brings on.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
This will help you in bodybuilding and with your acne. Eat a balanced diet, get adequate sleep, exercise (BODYBUILD!!...hehe), and drink plenty of water. These will make you feel good and keep your skin looking at its best.
How acne begins
Acne develops with your hair follicles, the lining of the skin duct surrounding hair follicles, and the sebaceous glands produce oil.
Your skin cells are in a continuous state of renewal. Usually, as the old cells die, they mix with your skin's natural oil and are sloughed off. But sloughing is a very individual thing. Some people do not shed dead cells evenly. When that happens, the cells become "over sticky." These sticky cells and oil form a plug, called a comedo, in the hair follicle. It's a lot like a cork in a bottle. The cork-like plug holds the oil and bacteria in the follicle, which begins to swell as your skin produces more oil. Then, your own white blood cells swarm around the follicle to kill the bacteria. The result is a pimple of a red bump. This is acne.
Even after the blemish disappears, you may be left with dark spots on your face or body. This is not scarring; it is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The dark spots usually take weeks, or up to several months, to disappear. I will talk about ways to make these spots disappear faster later in this article.
Acne - Non-inflammatory
Most people have non-inflammatory acne, a relatively mild form with just a few whiteheads and blackheads. This type of acne can be treated with non-prescription medicines.
Although all pimples start the same way chances are they will appear different on your skin. If the plug stays under the skin surface, it is referred to as a "closed" whitehead. If the plug gets too large to stay under the skin it pops out through the duct, and is called an "open" blackhead. Blackheads are not dirt so they won't wash away. The reason it appears black is because there is a buildup of melanin, the dark pigment in the skin.
Acne - Inflammatory
Whiteheads of inflammatory acne become infected with bacteria and swell, producing pimples. This can also be treated with non-prescription medicines. But when disfiguring cysts and deep scars occur severe inflammatory has invaded your skin. This is usually treated with prescription drugs such as Accutane or oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, sulfa, or erythromycin. Doctors usually add a mild-antibiotic into the treatment also.
Chances of getting acne
Genetics usually determine if you'll get acne or how bad it will be. Generally if your parents had mild acne, you'll get mild acne and so forth. Also, if you had early breakouts before the age of ten, this may be in indicator that you will struggle with acne as you get into your teens. Also your tendency to have trouble with acne changes, as you grow older. Usually your hormone production will slow down and you will be able to slough dead skin cells better with age.
Dealing with acne
The best way to control acne is by preventing the pimples from ever forming. By using a combination of topical solutions you can generally prevent and battle the acne. Oral, prescription medications are used when the case is more sever like I discussed earlier.
Types of medications to treat acne
First of all, if you think you have severe inflammatory acne I would recommend going to a trained dermatologist. The solutions that I'm going to suggest are only for milder acne and are just samples.
You can use these medicines on your face, back, chest, neck, or where ever else you have acne. Here is a list of medicines that are in many of the acne products. I'll tell you what each one of the medicines does so you'll know what to look for in the products.
*Benzoyl Peroxide - A key antibacterial agent used to fight acne. It also helps to dry up the skin to clear up pimples. Benzoyl Peroxide is most commonly found in face washes and creams to put on acne.
*Salicylic Acid - Used for unblocking pores so the face can be cleaned. Most commonly found in face washes and body scrubs.
*Sulfur - Extremely effective in absorbing excess oils and calming inflammation. Usually found in facemasks.
*Kaolin - Also known as China Clay, it helps absorb excess oils from the skin. Usually found in facemasks.
*Hydroquinone U.S.P. - Gently and gradually lightens dark areas of skin caused by acne. Found in skin lightning lotions and products.
*Natural Acids - Help renew skin by removing dead skin cells and balancing skin tone. Found in skin lightning lotions and products.
*Guggulesterones - They claim these will help acne by decreasing the number and size of blemishes. I've used this product and I saw a slight improvement in my skin conditions. My favorite kind is Syntrax's Guggulbolic.
*Egg whites - The other day my aunt was telling me how she read that you get egg whites, whip them up, then put them on your face and let them dry. In 2 to 3 weeks they're supposed to totally clear up acne. I haven't tried it yet but I plan to so I'll keep you posted on it and with my results.
Morning - Wash acne infected area using a Salicylic Acid or Benzoyl Peroxide wash. Then use an astringent on a cottonball or pad to further clean face. Then use a Benzoyl Peroxide cream to put on acne. Option of skin lightning lotion.
*I like Clearasil's Stay Clear (it contains Salicylic Acid) wash for my face, chest, and back.
Afternoon - Optional. If you decide to do a cleaning here use something like the morning routine.
Night (Before bed) - Same as morning with the option of a facemask or skin lightning lotion.
Just remember that what I mentioned above is just a sample, so you should revise it to fit you personally. Your face isn't going to clear up immediately either. It takes time and hard work. So suit up and begin the battle!
P.S. I will update you on the egg whites as soon as I finish a few weeks of it. I will also post new methods to fight acne so you'll be more than happy to rip your shirt off and pose for the ladies! Hehe...