Breakouts, skin purging and acne what’s the difference

Breakouts, skin purging and acne: what’s the difference?

We’ve all been there. You’re getting ready for a big night out, for a major one-off event like a wedding or even just for work, and then you suddenly realise that you’ve got a spot (or three) on your face. No amount of make-up can cover it up, and you’re left at a loss about what to do. 
But one of the challenges in dealing with skin problems like these is that it’s hard to know exactly what is causing your spots. While there are some superficial similarities between conditions like acne, breakout and skin purging, it’s also the case that there are some key distinctions – and it’s important to know what precisely you’re dealing with before you can accurately treat it. This blog post will delve into these questions and come up with the answers that will help you transform your skin for the better. 

What is acne and what causes it?

Acne is a skin condition that comes about as a result of hair follicles, or pores in your skin, getting clogged. The sebaceous glands in these follicles experience what is known as an overproduction of sebum, which can then contribute to the clogging of follicles – and from there, skin blemishes can appear. Blackhead tend to happen when the clogging happens near the surface of the skin and react with oxygen making them look dark, while whiteheads form deeper underneath the skin.
The causes of acne are multiple and diverse and often change from person to person. It is sometimes genetic, with many young people finding they are more likely to suffer from acne if their parents did. A high level of the hormone testosterone can play a role, and pregnancy and periods can also contribute to it. 

What is the difference between acne and breakouts?

On the face of it, it might seem like breakouts and acne or the same thing. But it’s important to understand that breakouts, or pimples, are a symptom of a condition and not a cause. The cause, or condition, is acne. Understanding this is crucial to finding out exactly which skin condition you have, and then going from there to get the right treatment. 

What is a breakout and what causes them?

Breakouts of pimples come about as a result of underlying acne. As mentioned above, breakouts happen when acne becomes active – and this, in turn, happens when the relevant glands produce too much sebum. If you have acne, then sebum and dead skin cells often gather together to plug the hair follicles. The inflammation that comes as a result can then cause pimples. 
As well as the reasons outlined above, it’s also known that factors such as over-cleaning your skin and very humid weather can lead to breakouts. However, it’s important to bust a few myths. For instance, acne is not infectious, so it can’t be passed on from one person to another. 

What is skin ‘purging’? And how do I know if I have purging, breakouts or acne?

The term “skin purging” sounds unpleasant – and, in many ways, it is. It refers to your skin’s practice of clearing out problematic cells and replacing them with healthy skin cells. In this instance, the spots are caused by your skin flushing out flakes of old skin, excess sebum and more. Sometimes, it can be hard to know the difference between skin purging and a breakout or acne when you look in the mirror. It’s worth checking where on your skin this is happening, though, in order to get a clue. If you’re finding that it’s happening in the same place as previous problems, and if the spot is vanishing quickly, it could well be a simple purge. If it’s taking over a week to go, it may just be a breakout. 

What causes skin purging? Can I avoid it?

One of the main causes of skin purging tends to be products, especially if they contain active ingredients like face acids and retinols. If you’re using a new product for the first time, your skin may have a reaction to it: when that happens, the rate of new cell production can speed up as part of your skin’s attempts to heal itself. It’s not always possible to avoid it in advance, although you may want to go for a skin care product that doesn’t contain products like retinols if you can. 

Is skin purging beneficial?

Skin purging is a natural process that can help your largest and most visible organ get back on track – and help you look great again. If you’re experiencing a lot of purges, though, it might be time to find another product. 

What ingredients should I be using to help cure/prevent acne and breakouts?

In terms of acne and breakouts, there are a number of skincare product ingredients that can help reduce the risk of developing symptoms. While there are a number of proven topicals against acne such as benzoyl peroxide and retinols, its important to not just pick the first product you see containing these ingredients. Speak with one of our doctors/pharmacists about which formulations have been tried and tested, many of which will need to be prescribed. 

How can I avoid breakouts?

Sometimes, the best course of action is to take steps to avoid breakouts in the first place. While this isn’t always possible, it can be done. Try experimenting with practices like washing skin less frequently, using gentle soaps and reducing make-up usage to find a solution that suits you. 

What are the best breakout and acne treatments?

Again, there’s no one size fits all solution. While a range of professional treatments from skin peels, hydrfacial, and laser treatments can help, they should be part of a tailored plan by a specialist prescribed to you. Laser hair removal can also help to destroy hair follicles and the structures around them if excess hair growth is contributing to the problem. If you’re looking for spot treatment in London for any of these conditions and more, Hannah London can help. We have locations in Harley Street and Colindale. Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you transform your skin.

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