Exfoliation for Acne

Exfoliation for Acne (Skyn Stories by Dr Meenu Sethi)
Exfoliation for Acne (Skyn Stories by Dr Meenu Sethi)

All of you with acne do not run away the moment you hear the word exfoliation. If done correctly, exfoliation can work wonders for your skin.

What is Exfoliation?

As important as cleansing is, exfoliation is also an important part of skincare routine which people tend to skip or ignore.

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s top most layer. Our body naturally does exfoliation through a process called cell turnover. A new skin cell comes up in the deepest layer of the epidermis and it migrates to the uppermost layer of the skin during its lifetime. When these cells come up, the older cells are thrown out. But as we grow up, the cell turnover rate slows down and this leads to dullness and flakiness. These are signs that your skin needs exfoliation.

Those with acne already have a slower cell turnover and their skin produces more dead skin cells than usual.

Why is exfoliation important?

With the help of an exfoliant, your skin becomes softer and smoother, also making your complexion brighter. It prevents pores from getting clogged with a mix of sebum and dead skin cells, reducing breakouts. Before choosing any abrasive product as a scrub, you need to learn about all products available in the market. Choosing the correct exfoliant is essential for the best results such that your skin isn’t irritated and your acne isn’t intensified. There are two types of exfoliants – physical and chemical.

Physical exfoliants use a coarse ingredient through which dead skin cells can be buffed away. Cleansing pads and cloths, gritty scrubs, professional dermabrasion – these are all examples of physical exfoliants. These exfoliants leave your skin smooth, but aren’t good for acne prone skin. This is because your skin can be left inflamed due to a lot of scrubbing. This can worsen your acne and aggravate redness, promoting additional breakouts. Thus, it is advised that those with acne-prone skin should avoid physical exfoliants altogether, unless advised by a doctor.

Chemical exfoliants do not contain abrasive agents. Instead, these contain acids and enzymes that loosen or dissolve the bond due to which dead cells are held to the skin’s surface. These chemical exfoliants involve ingredients such as alpha and beta hydroxyl acids, the acne treatment medications like Retin-A and Differin, and trichloroacetic acid, carbolic or phenols. These are easily available in local retail stores and are gentle enough for daily use. Chemical peels are another daily and weekly treatment that are available at spas and skin clinics. Chemical peels can dry the skin up to an extent, so it is advised that an oil-

free moisturizer be included in your daily skin care routine.

What not to do when exfoliating?

The most common problem associated with exfoliation is over exfoliation. Most people have this idea that by scrubbing a little more, they’re cleaning their skin more thoroughly, but in reality this is wrong. Over exfoliating leads to dryness and redness of the skin. Also, it is important that the skin is treated gently. If you rub it harshly or abrasively, it could lead to blemishes being damaged and increase inflammation. So, if you have acne-prone skin, avoid using scrubs or exfoliants that contain beads as they’re too abrasive for such skin type. Instead choose lotion, gentle cleanser.

To ensure that exfoliation is smooth, you can follow these tips -

  • Cleanse before exfoliation: Wash your face with a gentle cleanser for acne-prone skin. You don’t want all the residue and dirt to be scrubbed right into your pores.

  • Exfoliate in the morning: Exfoliating in the morning is ideal, because your skin renews itself while we sleep.

  • Check signs from your skin: Flakiness, redness – these are signs that it’s time to take care of your skin and give it the pampering it deserves.

  • Moisturize: Post exfoliation, the skin needs to be hydrated so use an oil-free moisturizer. Sometimes, exfoliation can strip off moisture from the skin and make your skin a little drier and this will induce the production of more sebum to compensate. This can be taken care of with a moisturizer.

  • Be gentle with exfoliation: You need to be gentle when exfoliating your skin as being too harsh can worsen pre-existing acne. Also, be aware about how often should you use your respective exfoliant as some can be used daily, whereas some exfoliants should be used twice or thrice during the week.

  • Ask your dermatologist: If you are unsure about what exfoliant to choose, ask your dermatologist. He will recommend products that are good and safe for your skin. Inform him about any acne treatments that you’re taking. Don’t use too many products at the same time as this may be harmful for your skin. Also, avoid using any product you think may have caused the irritation or discomfort and consult your doctor about it.

Thus, with the help of these tips, you can exfoliate properly and improve your acne-prone skin.

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