Oily skin is the result of the glands which produce sebum (the semi-fluid substance that gives skin its suppleness and moistness) being overactive and producing more sebum than is needed for healthy skin. The pores of the skin are often larger in these cases and tend to give the skin a coarser look than normal skin has. Oily skin tends to look thick, shiny and dully colored, and is often susceptible to skin maladies such as acne, blackheads, whiteheads and pimples as the excess oils in the skin manifest themselves by clogging pores.
The sebaceous glands tend to be larger on the face, especially around the nose, and so the effects of oily skin can be more pronounced there than on other parts of the body. These larger glands are also concentrated on areas of the neck, chest and back and thus conditions such as acne often are concentrated in those parts of the body as well.
Special care is needed in order to combat the effects of oily skin.
Causes and effects of oily skin
Heredity is a major cause of oily skin. But hormone levels also play a major role in outbreaks of the condition. Teenagers passing through puberty have their hormonal levels drastically altered during that period which often leads to outbreaks of acne and the like.
Likewise, pregnant women, whose hormones often undergo drastic changes, can have the production of sebum affected to the point of having oily skin problems. (Ironically, the hormone-altering effects of birth control pills can have the same effect.) And the hormone imbalance in women in the throes of menopause can also cause the oil glands to overproduce sebum and result in oily skin problems.
Stress is another factor that may cause the glands to overwork and produce too much oil.
And diet may play a major role. There are differing opinions on which foods may add to the problem of oily skin but there is some agreement that fried foods and other foods which contain high amounts of fat should be avoided in order to aid in keeping oil production in the skin glands down. Some authorities also point the finger of blame at chocolate and other sweets while others think that the consumption of too much iodine (in fish primarily) is a more important cause.
Keeping the skin clean and moisturized is a good way of helping to cleanse pores and reduce the amount of oil produced. Skin should be washed with lukewarm water (hot water will only cause dry skin) and gentle cleansers. The skin should be kept clean but, paradoxically, it shouldn’t be cleansed excessively as that may only stimulate the glands to produce more oils to replace those washed away by the act of cleaning.
Avoiding oil-based cosmetics is another important step to take.
Topical treatments, such as acne or pimple creams, may help reverse an outbreak but there is no “cure” for oily skin.