The Truth About Breakouts

Does eating chocolate give you zits? What about stress? Or the weather? You only have a breakout here and there so you don't have acne, right? It's time to reveal the truth about breakouts. While it's a myth that chocolate causes pimples, stress can aggravate your skin. By kicking off the release of androgens—hormones that produce a sticky oil in hair follicles—stress can be the culprit behind breakouts weeks before they surface. As far as the weather goes, breakouts are more likely to occur on hot, humid days because your skin can be aggravated by heat and friction. And yes, even one pimple is considered acne.


It actually takes about two weeks for acne to reach the surface of the skin. That's why, when you start treating acne, it's normal to see flare-ups. Usually you won't start to see results until the third or fourth week. For this reason it's important to be patient with a new acne treatment regimen.


Acne begins when hair follicles get plugged by sebum, an oily substance made by your skin. In those who are acne prone, this oil gets trapped in the narrow follicle, causing cells to clump and form a plug—phase one of a blemish.


Phase two occurs when bacteria, which love the air-tight environment created by the plug, start feeding and breeding inside the pores. The body responds by sending white blood cells to fight these bacterial invaders. This results in phase three: inflammation—small pink bumps, pimples, and sometimes nodules and cysts. It is this inflammation that results in scarring, dark marks, and discoloration.


When does acne stop? Most people see their acne improve as they get older. However, some people don't get acne until they are in their 20s, 30s, or even 40s. The bad news is some of the effects of past acne can last a lifetime. The good news is breakouts and the signs of past acne can be treated with the help of modern science so everyone can enjoy clear, healthy skin.