Is it Acne or Folliculitis?

Are you a man dealing with adult acne? Are you sure?

Many men that think they’re suffering from adult acne are actually facing an acne-like disorder called folliculitis. So just what is folliculitis? How is it different from acne? And, more importantly, how do you deal with it?

Most often, folliculitis is caused by shaving too closely to the skin. A super close shaves leaves your hair follicles open, and bacteria can sneak their way in and cause an infection. You can tell the difference by taking a closer look. A follicular pimple usually has a visible hair shaft at the center of the lesion. Sometimes, they contain pus, and they can also form a crust over the top. Other times, the area surrounding the infected follicle can become red and swollen. Hispanics and African Americans are most likely to develop folliculitis, because of the fact that their hair tends to curl under the skin, but Caucasian and Asian men can get it too.

Infected follicles can feel tender, itchy, and sore. If the folliculitis is particularly deep, the entire hair follicle can be affected, causing large, painful bumps filled with pus. In either case, scars can be left behind.

There is good news, though. The best way to combat folliculitis is to switch to an electric shaver. Electric razors may not give as close a shave as a traditional blade, but they cause much less irritation and swelling around the hair follicles. (Hey… chicks dig the stubble look anyway)

Combined with regular use of an over the counter salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide product and once a week exfoliation, switching to an electric razor should help you be rid of your folliculitis once and for all. Of course, when in doubt, make a dermatologist’s appointment…

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Anatomy of a Pimple

The medical term for breakouts is Acne Vulgaris. All in all, it’s a pretty spot on description (pardon the pun). Acne is an irritating, painful, and downright vulgar attack on your skin. And it can be harder to get rid of than a bad credit score.

Of course, you don’t have to walk around with 575 tattooed on your forehead, so in some ways, acne is an even bigger pain in the butt.

But just what is a pimple? The actual anatomy of a zit can be downright gross. But if you’re an acne sufferer, it’s important to know exactly what causes those unsightly blemishes in the first place.

The skin on your face consists of millions of follicles, and each one contains a tiny hair. Those same follicles exude sweat, water, and a fatty oil called sebum. As long as all of this stuff flows freely out of your follicles, your skin will stay smooth and your complexion clear.

There are times, however, when everything does not exit the follicle completely. Sebum, skin oil, and sweat can get trapped below the surface of the skin. This back up produces a white head. When that same gunk breaks through the surface, contact with oxygen turns it dark, and a blackhead is born.

When too much of this backed up junk accumulates, the pressure under the skin grows, stretching out the walls of a follicle. This gives bacteria a chance to multiply inside the clogged follicle. This is what’s known as a comedo— one of those big, scary pimples that give you nightmares.

If the walls of the follicle actually rupture, then your immune system responds by sending an army of cells to attack the bacteria inside the comedo. This is when the skin surrounding that pimple becomes red, swollen, and tender to the touch. You might even start seeing pus develop as the war between the immune cells and dead bacteria rages on.

So there you have it… the truth about how pimples are born.

Vitamin Excellent

Ok, we’ve been through the awesomeness of A and the beauty of B… that leaves but one more vitamin in the skin care trifecta to be discussed: His excellence, vitamin E.

 To catch everybody up who has neglecting their blog reading duties of late: lunch and mimosas with a gal-pal last week turned into a quest on my part to find some of the best vitamins for healthy skin and a clear complexion, so that I (and you, if you so choose) can increase their amounts in my daily life.

 Turns out that Vitamin E may just be the most important vitamin in the fight against adult acne. It helps heal and protect skin tissue, which (all in all) sounds like a good idea for anyone trying to repair any kind of damage brought on by the war against acne. It also helps with acne scarring, which can be the cause of many a heartache for acne sufferers.

 More, Vitamin E protects the skin from the harmful and dangerous pollutants we come into contact with daily, including ozone, as well as the toxins produced by our own bodies.

 But perhaps best of all, Vitamin E can help ease the cramps and bloating associated with PMS. Now, I personally don’t need any more reasons to hate that time of the month, but when I found out that PMS and pimples go hand in hand, I felt completely betrayed by my own uterus.

 You can find Vitamin E in fortified cereals, broccoli, almonds, peanuts, wheat germ, mangos, spinach and tomatoes. (Funny how tomatoes keep popping up on these lists. Talk about a super food… maybe I should just become a tomato-tarian)

 So there you have it folks: My round up of the three most essential vitamins for clear skin. I’d love to hear any other questions, comments, or suggestions!

Alphabet Soup

So, thanks in large part to a friend that I hadn’t seen in ages (man, I love Facebook) I’ve been doing my fair share of research on vitamins that might help clear up acne. And while it’s important to note that there is no official scientific connection between increasing your vitamin consumption and having blemish free skin, there are plenty of people who swear by a vita-enhanced approach.

We’ve already gone into the wonders of vitamin A and its magical exfoliating properties. Trying to narrow down the next couple of vitamins to tackle on my quest was not quite as easy as I thought. I mean, seriously… cruise up and down the drug store aisles reading the labels on bottles of skin care products, and you’re liable to think you fell into a bowl of alphabet soup.

But from this Sesame Street paradise of letters and numbers I was able to extract a couple more vitamins that seemingly do wonders for the modern complexion. And so without further ado, today’s post is brought to you by the letter B:

Vitamin B helps you deal with stress and maintain an emotional balance. And since we all know that stress = breakouts, this is a good thing already. More, that powerful little B vitamin also helps maintain healthy eyes, hair and (you guessed it) skin! Many people believe that certain cases of acne are caused by a vitamin B deficiency in the first place.

Now that I know you’re all dying to increase your B intake, I shall tell you where you can get more of it. (Kind of me, yes?)

For starters, you can get VB by eating more potatoes, bananas, turkey, and tuna fish. You can also find various combinations of B vitamin supplements in most grocery and health food stores. But a word to the wise: there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. So before you begin any vitamin regimen, talk to your doctor.

And stay tuned for the final installment in my vitamin information quest: Vitamin E.

Vitamin A Lovers Rejoice!

Alright, fellow acne sufferers—I promised that I’d look deeper into the whole vitamin thing, and I have. First of all, there are going to have to be more posts on the whole subject than I originally thought, because frankly, I found enough info to make anybody’s head spin.

But for starters, I did find out that there are 3 vitamins which are essential for healthy skin and a clear complexion. They are (drum roll, please) vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin E.

For now, let’s take a closer look at just one of these (Vitamin A) and its role in keeping your face and body blemish free. More on the other 2 to follow soon, I promise!

Vitamin A has been shown to enhance your immunity levels, prevent cardiovascular disease, ward off cancer, and fight off skin problems. Wowza! Not bad for the very first letter of the alphabet, no?

Anyone who’s read this blog knows that the oils from your skin—aka sebum—are largely responsible for your acne breakouts. When sebum builds up, or, say, gets infected, or even blocks your pores and glands it’s hello acne time.

A key component to keeping those pesky pimples from popping up in the first place is the exfoliation process. (For more on exfoliation, check out last month’s entry Exfoliation 101, and one from a couple of weeks ago when we revisited the topic) Basically, Vitamin A helps dry up your skin and peels off the top layer of dead skin. Yeah, I know it sounds gross but trust me on this one—it’s a good thing!

So what’s a good way to boost your Vitamin A levels?

Start by increasing the amount of citrus fruits, pumpkin, and carrots you’re eating, since they all contain lots of vitamin A. Tomatoes are another great way to get more A in your diet—and they have the added benefit of supplying you with plenty of lycopene and other yummy antioxidants too!

Vitamins?

Ah, the wonders of Facebook. I reconnected with an old high school friend of mine about a month ago. Yesterday, we (finally!) met up for some lunch and to gossip about everybody and everything.

While we were talking, my mind wandered back to those teen angst ridden mornings when we’d call each other, frantic, after just having discovered that a new zit had laid siege on our faces during the night.

(Little did I know that I would still be dealing with this even AFTER college, right?)

As we sat sipping mimosas, I suddenly felt the slightest twinge of envy at my friend’s clearer than clear skin. Obviously, her skin issues must have cleared up right after high school, because there wasn’t a blemish to be seen on her porcelain complexion.

I wasn’t jealous. Really.

 I made a self- deprecating comment about my current acne strife, and boy was I surprised to learn that she had dealt with adult acne, too. Until a few years ago, that is.

I asked how on earth she had cleared it up so well, and she, basically, told me that one of the factors that helped was her decision to start taking vitamins.

Ok, here we go.

I thought, “Great, does this mean I have to turn vegan or vegetarian or only eat holistic soy peaches or try some other super healthy mumbo-jumbo?” (Not that I’ve got anything against vegetables—but come on!)

 But the more she talked about it, the more I realized she wasn’t preaching a new and radical way of living but just taking the vitamins after every meal that her body needs but her everyday diet isn’t providing.

All right, now this sparked my curiosity. Honestly, the only vitamins I’ve been ever been known to pop are the yummy Flintstone’s ones. (Hey at least I’m honest)

So I vow to look into the whole vitamin supplement thing, and report my findings back to you guys, stat.

Nature’s Cure: An Enthusiastic Review

Hello, all. I received an email from a friend, whom I hadn’t heard from in a quite a while, not too long ago. After a little chit chatting, the topic of this blog came up. It turns out that my once near and dear gal pal is a faithful supporter of one anti acne regimen in particular. With a little coaxing, I got her to contribute a guest blog for us. (Thanks, Kaitlin!)

Here’s the story of her personal battle with breakouts:

“I have been a long sufferer of acne (Word to the wise: this is never a good pickup line). 

It all started in junior high when my face, seemingly overnight, exploded into what looked like the surface of Mars (though, It wasn’t nearly as fascinating a sight).  It was an emotionally painful and confidence-crippling experience, leading me to practically pour buckets of foundation atop my pubescent mug, which only led me to break out more. Oh, the Ouroboros-like suffering of acne-ridden youth!

My mother, in fear of losing her daughter to impending teenage awkwardness, whisked me off to the dermatologist faster than you can say “Noxzema”.

The zit doctor checked my skin out, poking and prodding and furrowing her brow. She finally concluded that my skin was extra sensitive and the usual acne medications would be too harsh for me. This made sense to me, seeing as how I had tried out every acne product on the market, only to find that they stung and reddened my face and ultimately did no good.  She prescribed a little gem called Nature’s Cure. It was a two-part acne destroyer. One part was a package of all-natural pills, designed to prevent more pimples from popping up. The other part was a cream that got rid of your already existing acne.  I rushed home and tried it immediately.

After a few days, I noticed, with much jubilation, that my skin had begun to clear up. Best of all, there was absolutely no redness or stinging sensations involved.  My teenage awkwardness had been cured! Well, not exactly, but at least one of the aspects out of a thousand had been taken care of.

My point is Nature’s Cure rocks.  I still use it to this day. I swear by it. And do you want to know the best part? A few years after my dermatologist prescribed it to me, it went on the market, and so, it’s now available to everyone.  Also, it comes in nifty packages for men and women because the company understands and takes heed to the fact that our skins are different. Neat, huh?

So, I recommend you check it out. Enjoy!”