Acne breakouts can be incredibly frustrating. Even if you maintain a healthy diet, great skincare routine and drink plenty of water, flare ups can still come out of the blue, causing irritation, discomfort, and embarrassment.
If you suffer with acne, particularly as an adult, you can feel like you’re on your own, but acne is an incredibly common complaint, affecting around 650 million people around the world.
So, what is acne? What triggers it and how can we manage it? Let’s take a look.
What is acne?
Acne is a very common skin disease. It can vary in severity and some people suffer with it more than others. It’s particularly common for teenagers to experience bouts of acne, due to hormonal changes. But adults can also suffer with the condition.
In simple terms, acne occurs when the follicles in our skin become blocked. Tiny glands in those follicles produce a substance called sebum, which helps keep the skin from drying out. But an over-production of sebum can clog the follicles, trapping bacteria in and causing spots or acne.
What causes acne?
What exactly causes acne isn’t entirely clear. It’s often believed that acne comes from poor hygiene but that isn’t the case. Even the most diligently clean person can suffer with extreme acne. But there are some potential causes which are commonly believed to trigger acne.
The most accepted theory is that acne is related to our genetics. If acne runs in your family, you have a higher chance of also suffering with the condition.
Hormones also have a big influence on the health and appearance of our skin, which explains why spots and acne are so common in teenagers. It’s believed that the increased levels of testosterone leads to over production of sebum, blocking the pores.
Stress can exacerbate acne, again triggering the over-production of hormones that can cause acne to flare up.
Research has also shown that, for some of us, the foods you eat can play a part in the health and appearance of your skin. If your diet isn’t balanced, or there’s something you’re eating which doesn’t agree with you, it could be behind your flare ups.
Can diet trigger acne?
For some people, acne can appear at random. They may never have had a problem with their skin in their teenage years, but in adulthood find that they’re suffering with breakouts. If this is something you’re experiencing, it might be a good idea to take a closer look at your diet.
It’s commonly assumed that food intolerances only affect the gut, resulting in bloating or IBS. But, in reality, food intolerances can cause a whole host of inflammatory symptoms, including acne and eczema.
Food intolerances are often blamed on ‘the usual suspects’, such as gluten or dairy. While these foods are commonly associated with food intolerance, each case is individual and it’s not unusual to discover that you have some unexpected triggers in your diet.
What are the signs of a food intolerance?
Food intolerances, which can occur when your body’s immune system mistakes a food protein as a threat, releasing antibodies to fight it, can cause a host of inflammation.
Headaches, brain fog, IBS, bloating, low mood and joint pain are all reactions that can result from a food intolerance, as well as skin complaints like eczema or acne.
Can some foods help?
Finding your trigger foods can be a frustrating process if you choose to try an elimination diet. But there are foods which can help improve the health of your skin.
Provided they aren’t trigger foods for you, it can be beneficial to stock up on foods which are high in Vitamin A, like spinach or carrots, which encourage the body’s natural exfoliation process.
Omega 3, which is found in oily fish, helps reduce redness and inflammation while zinc helps keep your skin hydrated. Lean red meat, nuts and shellfish are all good sources of zinc.
Take control of your diet
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. A common recommendation is the elimination diet, where you remove one food at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel. But this process can take a long time. And, although many of us commonly react to a few different ingredients, the elimination diet is often abandoned when the first trigger food is found, leaving an incomplete picture of what’s causing the problem.
Get answers faster with Smartblood
When it comes to food intolerance testing, it’s important to do your research and choose a reputable laboratory testing company.
At Smartblood, we offer a comprehensive test to help you take control of your diet quickly and discover your own trigger foods.