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What Causes Blemish Prone Skin?

Skin prone to blemishes? Find out how blemishes develop and how to care for blemish-prone skin, with help from Dr. Tabi Leslie.


If you frequently get blemishes, you’ll know that pinpointing what triggers a breakout is part skincare, part detective work. We’re all different, and there isn’t one simple answer. But we do know how blemishes usually form, which gives us some options for treating them.


How Blemishes Form

1. A blemish usually begins with blocked pores, which can be caused by increased sebum, the natural oil we produce. This is increased by the presence of the male hormone, testosterone. (We all have a bit of testosterone, including women.) High testosterone levels, or being sensitive to testosterone, can cause the production of more natural oils, sebum.

2. This extra oil can block the pore, which is the opening in the skin where sebum normally flows out. Sebum and dead skin cells can build up behind the blockage to create a comedone (blackhead or whitehead).

3. The environment inside the blocked pore is airtight, providing an ideal home for bacteria called P. acnes, which thrive in airless conditions. These bacteria lead to the inflammation under the skin that causes the red, painful effects of blemishes.


Interrupting the Cycle

There are a few ways we can interrupt the cycle of blemishes. Your routine can help stop the pores getting blocked in the first place, using gentle exfoliation and cleansing twice a day, can help remove oiliness that may lead to blemishes combat any surface bacteria. Also avoid adding extra oil to the skin by using non-greasy, non-comedogenic (non-pore-blocking) products which are fragrance free. You can always visit the GP who can help, as they can explore options for you.

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