What’s trickier than being acne-prone? Being dry and acne-prone. How does one get rid of spots without drying out our already dry skin further?!
Before we get into that, let’s try to make sense of how someone can be both dry-skinned and blemish-prone. Isn’t acne an oily skin problem? (Answer is: usually, but read on)
Blemish-prone ≠ Oily
Although acne is closely related to oil (sebum) levels, any skin type can be acne-prone. This is because sebum originates from the base of our hair follicle/pore in our sebaceous glands, in the deepest part of our epidermis. Even a person with the driest skin has sebum production in their sebaceous glands, which is why they can still be acne-prone despite a lack of oil on their skin surface.
Factors leading to Acne
Sebum is only part of story. The additional players in acne formation are
- Overproduction of sebum in sebaceous gland
- Follicular hyperkeratinisation
- Overgrowth of bacteria and inflammation
Oily skin have overactive sebaceous gland activity, resulting in excessive oils that make their way to the skin surface. Even though dry skins lacks oil at their skin surface, sebum is still produced in the sebaceous glands.
Like the cells on our skin surface, the cells within our pores (follicles) also shed. In acne-prone individuals, more cell shedding occurs within the follicle. These cells, mixed with sebum, forms a sticky clump that gets trapped in the narrow opening of the pore, forming a comedone (clogged pore). We recognise these comedones as white or blackheads.
It is worthwhile to mention that sebum composition varies amongst individuals. If your sebum composition encourages clumping of itself and/or with shed cells, then you will be prone to congestion.
Certain types of bacteria present on our skin can feed off sebum for food. The build-up of sebum within the follicle encourages overgrowth of unwanted bacteria such as P.acnes. Our body detects the excess bacteria and recognises them as foreign materials. It starts the inflammation process by signalling our immune system to fight/neutralise them at the follicle. Your skin becomes inflamed and you get a blemish of varying severity (i.e pustule/papule/nodule/cyst).
Now that we know why dry skin can also be blemish-prone, would you like to know how to deal with this conundrum? The master checklist on what to use for dry, acne-prone skin is coming up next. Don’t go anywhere!