I am an observer of sorts – not of all things, but some patterns intrigue me. I have been a mild acne sufferer most of my life. As a kid, I accepted this as a rite of passage and used every scrub, mask and drying agent I could find to remedy these skin irritations.
Back in the day, I was much too self involved with my outside appearance to really analyze what might be going on inside. Why bother developing inner beauty? Nope, I was not nearly as on the ball as Daniel who refused the kings meat and wine so as not to defile himself. Vegetables? Forget it – bring on the garbage. It would be years before I put together unclean eating with painful cysts.
I am now the mother of 4 teenagers. I knew this acne period would rain down upon us. I just wasn’t sure when and to what degree. My children are the tail end of 2 scores of cousins and as I had observed all of them go through this period, I thought I had a fairly good idea of what would head our way. My plan of attack was to go to the dermatologist immediately when any thing reared its ugly head. Initially, this seemed to work, but results were short lived and not everyone had success.
I noticed that my kids and their friends developed different patterns of acne – some all around the chin, others on both lowers cheeks and neck area. Some kids had acne underneath their eyes in a goggle pattern while others had almost a head band looking type of acne. What the heck was this? It finally occurred to me that a lot of their skin issues reflected their activities. A football player often had chin acne from their chin guard; anyone wearing hats had forehead issues, wrestlers had chest and back skin irritaions.
I stumbled across a term Acne Mechanica. It is commonly referred to as a sports-induced acne and is caused by a combination of sweat, heat, pressure, occlusion of the skin and repetitive frictional rubbing. These irritations can be found near hairline, face, neck, back and thighs. This is exactly what I’m noticing in my family and my children’s friends. However, it is not just athletes. I started observing the way my kids would sit and hold or touch their face and saw this is where most of the blemishes gathered. It also holds true for anyone from musicians whose instruments rest on their face to kids who lean on their hands while playing Nintendo or working at the computer.
So, how to help combat this? Acne feeds on grease and sweat. Clean your equipment often: hats, headbands, chin guards, sunglasses, cell phone, keyboards, instruments. If you must wear a helmet, maybe use different types occasionally so there is not continual friction in the same spot on your face. Always wash your hands, especially if you like to touch your face or lean on your hands. For serious cases, change your pillowcase nightly as sleeping can be a sweaty battle for some. Use a washcloth when washing your face and body.
The goal is consistency and can sometimes take up to 6 weeks to see results. Combine this with a cleaning solution containing Salicylic Acid. “Although Acne Mechanica does not respond well to typical acne treatments,” explained Dr. Norma Marchesini, Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, “a solution containing salicylic acid applied directly to the breakout can be effective.” It cleans, heals and sooths the skin while preventing future blemishes.
There is a last piece to good skin care in order to have the Holy Spirit shine through and that is to do your best to avoid anxiety. During my own life’s challenges, I have noticed that I have truly done my self a disservice by giving into worry. At the height of a particularly stressful time, I was afflicted with Shingles. Had I just listened to God and believed that tomorrow would take care of itself and only focus on today’s troubles, I think I could have avoided a few painful months.
So keep your game face clean. Be fit. Be clean.