Awakening Wednesday — Zap ‘dem Zits!

By Rob Hardwicke, Product Master, Awakening Mineral Skin Care

A rite of passage for many of us transitting from adolescence to adulthood has been doing battle with facial blemishes.  In some cases,

What teenager hasn’t done some sort of battle with a zit!?

the battle can rage for years.  For a very small unfortunate few, the battle, sadly, can be life long.

A fellow resident in the small California town of Piedmont, Dr. Katie Rodan, has done substantial good in the field of dermatology and wrote an article a number of years ago entitled “How to Zap the Zits” — the inspiration for this post.  One of my own posts back in 2008, “The Truth About Adult Acne — and 4 Easy Steps to Control It” laid out my thoughts for damage control in those cases where acne didn’t fade away with the end of adolescence, usually around age 20.

I was listening to a discussion this week on a national radio station about the role of bacteria in acne.  The position by the commentator was that bacteria is the root cause of all acne evil.  In my opinion, this was simply another bad rap for bacteria.  Science keeps reporting on the ever-expanding role (and presence) of bacteria in & on our bodies.  The presence of bacteria on the skin is entirely normal.  Acne is the result of more than just bacteria.  It’s a malfunction of the combination of the sebaceous gland in which the hair follicle resides (unless one is bald), and the hair itself.  This combination is called the ‘pilosebaceous unit’, which are located pretty much everywhere on the skin — unless you happen to be a Wookie or a Hobbit.  The absence of this unit is why you don’t have hair growing on your lower (vs upper) lip, the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.  Almost everywhere else on your body, these little units exist with hairs ranging from coarse, black wires to silky, transparent peachfuzz.  The face, neck, shoulders and back are those areas with the greatest number of pilosebaceous units; hence, the areas with the greatest opportunity for screw ups.

Why screw ups?  The sebaceous glands produce a semifluid excretion call ‘sebum’.  The masterplan is that this sebum is the body’s natural moisturizing fluid for the skin — a beneficial oil of sorts that keeps the facial tissue (really, your skin no matter where it’s located on your body) healthy and disease-free.  Sebum is chiefly a combination of fat, keratin and cellular material (or, in less flattering terms: ‘epithelial debris’). Sebum produced by your glands combines with cells being shed within the hair follicle until the follicle can’t hold any more of the stuff.  When this happens, the sebum spreads out across the skin surface.  When everything is working correctly, this spreading layer of oil is moisturizing — and therefore good.

So what about the bacteria?  This is a critter called Propionibacterium acnes and lives naturally everywhere on your skin.  These bacteria use sebum as their source of nutrition: Happy bacteria being furnished with an adequate supply of sebum to chew on.

But anyone who has raised an adolescent (human being) knows full well that adolescence can precipitate serious malfunction in the family household!  So why not also on the skin?  At the heart of nearly all of these problems are hormones (so what else is new?), also called androgens.  Agruably, the more hormones, the more trouble.  (When I myself was a teenager, I had always assumed that my high school colleagues with the most androgens were the ones who were over-sexed and consequently getting to spend all that time in the backseats of cars at the local drive-in movie studying biology, and that serious acne was simply God’s “Just Desserts” being visited upon them for having had way too much fun)!

More hormones cause the glands to produce more sebum.  The sebum increases the bacteria herd, which in turn causes the body to sense trouble.  The body responds by dispatching white blood cells to the trouble brewing around the follicles.  The white blood cells, however, are aggressive warriors and can damage the walls of the follicles, which then results in leakage of the follicle sebum contents into the dermis.  This then brings us back to the notion of the ‘epithelial debris’.  Inflamation results, which then can lead to such nasty things as ‘papules’, ‘pustules’, ‘nodules’ and ‘comedones’ — all within the family known as ‘zits’ — a general free-for-all food fight of overfed bacteria and piles of uneaten sebum garbage gumming up the machinery of the pilosebaceous units.

So how to ‘zap ‘dem zits’?  Clean up the battleground!  Buy in to the habit of at least a nightly skin-washing routine.  Use skin care products that help to clean out pilosebaceous units (‘pores’) and sweep up the dead skin cells constantly being sloughed off by the dermis.  You also should eat right (a very, very tall order for adolescents) and work to stay calm.  These are 3 of the ‘4 easy steps’ I identified in my 2008 blog posting for coping with even adult acne.


 Awakening Mineral Skin Care is a boutique formulator of nature-derived, vegan skin care products utilizing concentrated mineral crystals isolated from the Dead Sea, essential oils and botanical extracts.  With only a few exceptions, we call our products by what they do: Awakening HANDS treats hands, Awakening FEET treats feet, Awakening BODY treats bodies, Awakening SCALP treats scalps — you get the idea.  However Awakening MUDFace is mud for the face (and feet!) — so, as with 9th grade English, there are always exceptions to every rule!




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