Breakouts are a pain in the arse and sometimes they seem to pop up (literally) out of nowhere. In this post we will explain how breakouts form on the skin and why they might be happening.
Our skin is covered in tiny pores which is attached to a hair follicle and an underlying gland called the sebaceous gland. The pore lets the sebum (which is secreted by the sebaceous gland) come to the surface, which helps to keep the skin's barrier healthy.
There are 6 main types of breakout.
A whitehead is a type of acne that isn’t inflamed. Whiteheads occur when skin cells, oil, and bacteria combine to create a white tip of oil-skin mixture. A whitehead looks like a small pimple, but the area around it will not be inflamed and red.
Blackheads form when the plug that clogs the pore sits at the top surface of the skin. This “plug” isn’t necessarily black, but it appears that way, which is why they are called blackheads. Blackheads are not dirt stuck in your pores. They are not inflamed.
A pimple is a clogged pore that has become infected. The infection makes a white pus-filled tip on top of the affected pore. The area around the infected pore can become inflamed, red, and sensitive.
Sometimes clogged pores become so inflamed and infected that they burst through their walls. This causes the infection to spread, which leads to a bigger pimple. These pimples are called pustules and papules.
Papules are hard to the touch. They make the skin feel very rough and ragged. Pustules are filled with a yellow-tinted pus. Pustules look more like blisters on the skin than typical whiteheads.
Nodules and cysts
Blocked pores can lead to an even bigger infection called a nodule. Nodules sit deep in your skin. They are often very painful and sore. Cysts are large like nodules, but they are softer because they are filled with pus.
How do they form?
Your skin is covered in millions of tiny little wells, or pores, that sit at your hair follicles. Pores connect the surface of your skin to an underlying gland called the sebaceous gland. This gland produces an oily substance called sebum. Sebum is released continually, in small amounts, into the hair follicles and skin. Dead skin cells are also carried up with the sebum so they can be washed away.
However, if the skin is unbalanced, stripped or if we are stressed or our hormones are imbalanced, the sebaceous glands will overproduce sebum. The overflow of oil can clog the pores. The excess oil and dead skin cells form a plug in the gland.
This pore becomes clogged with sebum, oil, and possibly bacteria. The bacteria can multiply. These bacteria can lead to an infection, swelling, and inflammation around the clogged pore. A white tip of pus will sometimes form at the top of the clogged pores. This creates a breakout.
Things can get even worse if we start picking and squeezing which create inflammation and drives bacteria down into the skin’s surface.
How do we stop this from happening?
Don’t over strip the skin with harsh products which will lead to over production of sebum
Gentle exfoliation, regularly and kindly to stop pores from getting blocked
Keep skin hydrated so that it doesn’t over produce sebum
If you notice irregularities in periods including PMS, cramps, irregular cycle length etc… work with a professional (nutritionist, acupuncturist, reflexologist) to support your hormones