If you regularly curse your ‘problem’ skin and wish you were lucky enough to have a glowing, flawless complexion, you’re definitely not alone!
Far from being something that we leave behind in our teenage years, ‘problem’ skin is a common frustration for a lot of adults too and can cause a lot of distress and anxiety.
Here’s what you need to know about 6 common types of skin issues and what you can do to treat them, including blackheads, acne, pigmentation, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.
Blackheads are tiny black bumps on your skin that form when oil and dead skin cells clog together in your pores and interact with oxygen. This is what causes them to be black – it’s not dirt, as people assume!
It’s always tempting to try to squeeze blackheads to get rid of them but you can damage the skin by doing this. If you can’t resist, it’s a good idea to open the pores up through steaming first so that there is less potential for problems.
While its true that blackheads are not caused by dirt, a good cleansing routine can help to prevent them by keeping your pores relatively clean so they don’t clog as easily. Cleansing once often isn’t enough and will only get rid of excess oil and make up whereas a second cleanse can go a bit deeper.
We often think of acne as being a facial problem but it can also affect the neck, chest, back and shoulders.
As well as the obvious red pus-filled bumps, acne can also come in the form of whiteheads, blackheads and bumps that form under the surface.
There can be a few different reasons why acne develops and the underlying factor plays a big role in how it is treated. This is why it can be important to look at the bigger picture rather than just looking to treat the acne itself.
Diet can sometimes play a part, and stress is another potential factor that can make acne worse.
Products that are targeted at spot prone skin can actually make acne worse if they strip the skin of vital moisture. This can encourage your skin to go into overdrive and produce more oils, which makes the situation even worse.
A gentle skin care regime that doesn’t dry out your skin can be a much better bet for acne prone skin.
If you have pigmentation, you’ll have dark patches of skin that are usually uneven. This happens when the skin cells that create melanin start to produce more pigment.
There can be hormonal factors involved (for example, during pregnancy or if you’re taking oral contraceptives) and other potential causes include sun damage and post inflammation pigmentation (which can occur after an injury or sun damage and can also be linked to acne and rosacea).
You can minimise your potential for pigmentation with a good sunscreen, which can protect against sun damage.
Pigmentation peels can be useful for treating pigmentation and making it less likely to come back again.
Rosacea causes facial flushing which can be quite severe. It is a vascular condition that encourages blood vessels in the face to swell and this is what causes the redness associated with rosacea.
The redness can be exaggerated if you get too hot or too cold, if you eat spicy foods or drink alcohol so many people with rosacea avoid these factors. Stress can also make the condition worse.
If you have eczema, your skin will be dry, red and itchy and prone to rashes in the affected areas. It’s common on the elbows and knees but can also occur on other parts of the body, including the face.
Eczema symptoms can come and go and can be linked to certain triggers. Some people find that it gets worse when they’re stressed, when they’re in environments that dry out the skin, when they wear ‘scratchy’ clothes or if their skin comes into contact with relatively harsh soaps or cleaning products, for example.
Mild toiletries that don’t contain lots of fragrance, colour and chemicals can reduce potential for eczema flare-ups that are linked to products that irritate the skin. You may also want to avoid using fabric softeners and harsh laundry products as these are also eczema triggers for some people.
When flare-ups happen, hydrocortisone creams can help to take the fire out of the itch and settle your skin down again.
If you’d rather go down the natural route, adding some oats to your bath water can help to relieve itching. Just make sure the water isn’t too hot as this can dry your skin and make eczema symptoms worse.
Psoriasis is usually characterised by red skin and silvery-white patches of dry, flaky, scaly skin. It’s caused by the skin cells turning over far more quickly than normal, which can lead to a build up of ‘scales’ on the skin.
As with eczema, psoriasis symptoms can come and go. Stress, cold temperatures and certain foods can be potential triggers for psoriasis in some people.
Keeping your skin well moisurised is key as the symptoms get worse when your skin is very dry
Eating more “good” fats in your diet can help to reduce inflammation, including oily fish, nuts and seeds.