The Difference Between Acne Scars and Dark Spots
October 5, 2020
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Ever heard of the “acne face map”? It helps identify why you only get pimples on certain parts of your face, and it’s been studied and used by skin experts to work to our advantage.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a face map uses the areas where you commonly experience acne to help determine its cause—and subsequently, its treatment.
Dr. Amy Kassouf, a board-certified dermatologist, explains, “Acne is common, so it seems like it should be easy to treat. But so many factors play into it, including genetics, hormones and the natural flora [aka healthy bacteria] of your skin… Where on your face you have the acne helps determine how to treat it.”
In an article by Teen Vogue, “hormones, diet, poor hygiene, stress, or an underlying issue with an internal organ are all factors that could trigger breakouts in a particular spot” because, according to lead salon esthetician Lindsey Blondin from Chicago, “One of the places through which your body rids itself of toxins, illness, and stresses is its largest organ—the skin.”
While these acne face maps are helpful, it’s important to take note that not all face maps are created equal. Some are based on ancient Chinese or Ayurvedic beliefs, but have very little scientific proof to support it. In an article for Healthline, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach, a graduate of NYU School of Medicine and current clinical instructor in the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, helped provide a more accurate face map.
So, why do you get breakouts in some areas of your face and how do you treat it? Let’s take a look.
Most skin experts would agree that one of the most acne-prone areas of the face is the T-zone, or the area across your forehead and down the bridge of your nose. This is because this part has more oil glands compared to the rest of the face, so the chances of getting dirt trapped into oily pores are higher, which leads to blackheads, whiteheads, and acne.
If you’re having problems with your T-zone, try including salicylic acid (which helps break down dead skin cells and clear out pores) in your daily skincare regimen.
Some experts also encourage patients to take a look at their haircare routine if they’re suffering from “pomade acne” or acne along the hairline. According to Dr. Rabach, “the best thing to do is stop using pomade, wash your face after application, or be diligent about using a clarifying shampoo. There’s also products on the market that are non-comedogenic (non-clogging).”
If you have more acne on your nose, some experts say your diet could be the culprit. They suggest laying off oily/fatty and spicy food for a while and observing if it helps alleviate your acne problem.
The experts at Healthline also suggest you take a look at how much stress and sleep you’re getting. If sleep deprivation is your struggle, experts say “try meditating before bed or practicing good sleep hygiene…listening to music or exercising (even for one minute) are also natural ways to relieve stress. And remember to avoid touching your forehead. The average person touches their face hundreds of times per day, spreading oils and dirt directly into the pores.
While our cheeks don’t contain as much oil glands as the T-zone, the skin in this area is more delicate, so it’s more prone to irritation and even infection. If you’re experiencing breakouts on your cheeks, it’s most likely (but not always) caused by external factors, like the things we use on our face: pillowcases, make-up brushes, and even cellphones.
According to Dr. Kassouf, to deal with cheek acne, don’t go crazy with acne treatments on your cheeks because they’re more sensitive; instead of applying treatments on your cheeks daily, you can do it every other day.
Also, make sure to maintain cleanliness and sanitize objects that regularly come in contact with your face. Our phones are notorious for being home to bacteria (with traces of E.coli and even fecal matter–yikes), so make sure to sanitize it regularly. And don’t forget to change your pillowcase twice a week (lazy girl hack: buy inexpensive packs of cotton shirts and use them as cases) and always clean and dry your make-up paraphernalia thoroughly.
It’s your hormones! The jaw area is sensitive to hormone fluctuations, “which means a disruption with your endocrine system. It’s typically a result of excess androgens, which overstimulate the oil glands and clog pores,” according to Healthline. That’s why some boys get breakouts during puberty or girls tend to break out along the jaw and chin during their monthly period.
While hormonal changes can’t be avoided, medical experts have supported the positive effects of birth control pills on addressing hormonal imbalance and acne, just make sure that the pills you’re taking contain both estrogen and progestin hormones to be effective against acne.
Before you run to your mirror to check your face, remember that this face map only serves a guide and not a treatment. If you’ve been suffering from acne for a while, it’s best to visit a dermatologist who can give you a more personal assessment and treatment regimen to address your concerns.
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