Acne is a fickle thing: It doesn’t work quite the same way for everyone. The causes are as individual as the people who suffer from this skin disease. One person may get a breakout after eating a certain kind of food, while someone else discovers that her acne worsens shortly before menstruation. If you know which things triggers your breakouts, you can avoid or work around them. Keeping an acne journal will help you uncover those triggers.
You can use an acne journal to keep track of different variables that may be contributing to your flare-ups. This may include anything from the severity of your acne, the food you eat, stress levels, medications, physical activities, how much water you drink, and even the clothing you wear (certain types of clothing can promote and/or irritate pimples on different parts of your body).
Since a woman’s hormones will fluctuate from month to month, she may wish to keep track of her monthly cycle. Some women find that they have more breakouts right before their period.
Keeping track all these variables may seem like too much work. You may be tempted to blow off the acne journal and keep experimenting with different remedies in the hopes that something works out. But you’ll be groping in the dark, and you’ll likely waste your time with remedies that are designed to solve problems you don’t have. Or you may find something that works for a while, but fails whenever your worst acne trigger kicks in. You’ll save yourself a lot of time, misery, and money in the long run by keeping a journal.
After you’ve been writing all this down for a while, you’ll probably notice a trend: Maybe a certain food seems to trigger a breakout. You can test this theory by eliminating the food from your diet for a while. If your complexion improves, you now know to avoid eating that particular food.
What if the trigger is something beyond your control, such as job stress or a menstrual cycle? Your best option is to ramp up your acne regimen whenever this comes up. However, don’t automatically assume that you can’t do anything about these patterns. For example, birth control pills can sometimes help with acne caused by menstruation. Job stress can be remedied by quitting and getting another job, or by finding ways to improve work conditions.
If you’re at your wits’ end when it comes to figuring out what’s causing your face to break out, you should seriously consider starting an acne journal. The little time you spend on your journal each day will help you understand your acne better and arm you with the knowledge you need to control it.