Acne is so common in teens that it is considered to be a normal part of puberty but that does not make it any easier to live with! Some 8 out of 10 teens do have acne and so do many adults too.
Why does acne occur?
The skin has thousands of tiny hair follicles and each has a sebaceous gland that produces an oily substance, sebum. An abnormal reaction of the sebaceous glands in the skin to the male hormone testosterone causes them to make more sebum. This occurs at puberty when production of hormones, including testosterone, increases in both boys and girls. Hormonal changes
also cause the cells of the top layer of skin to overgrow, forming a thicker layer which can block the outflow of sebum from the glands.
Everyone has heard the terms “whiteheads” and “blackheads” but what do these really mean?
A whitehead is the early stage when the pore is plugged with oil and skin cells. If the same plug reaches the surface of the skin, the air turns it black and we get a blackhead. It is important to know that a blackhead is not caused by dirt. If the wall of a plugged pore breaks, the surrounding area swells up and can turn into a red bump. If this happens close to the skin’s surface, then the red bump usually becomes a pimple.
Both boy and girl teens get acne
But it is often worse in boys because they produce 10 times more androgen than girls AND they tend to have more skin oils. Genetics also plays a part. If a mother or father had bad acne, then their teenage son or daughter will have a greater chance of having acne too. The immune system also plays an important role in the severity of acne. Some teens can be extra sensitive
to the bacteria that may become trapped in their pores.
There are other factors that will make acne worse
- Oil based make-up, suntan oil, hair gels and sprays
- Certain cosmetics and medicines
- Menstruation in girls
- Squeezing or picking at any blemishes or pimples
- The hard scrubbing of the skin
Some of the most common triggers for acne
- Exams, new relationships and other forms of stress
- The time just before a period starts
Other factors have nothing to do with acne such as dirt, chocolate, sexual activity and masturbation - all which you can safely take out of the equation.
If you are suffering from acne, there is a lot you can do to help the situation
- Try to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day
- Take plenty of vitamins A, C and E as well as Zinc
- Include lots of leafy vegetables and fresh fruit in your diet
- Wash your face twice a day with a mild soap such as Neutrogena in cool or lukewarm water while ensuring you remove all your make-up very gently
- If you wear make-up or sunscreen, check the labels very carefully- these should read “noncomedogenic” or nonacnegenic and all make-up should be water-based only
- If you have to use hair sprays or gels, make sure you keep them well away from your face
- If you have long hair or a fringe, wash it frequently so there is no oil build up that can get on to your face
- If you have a job where you might be in contact with oil (e.g working in a fast food restaurant or at a gas station) you will need to wash your face “as above” even more frequently
- The same goes if you exercise or play sport
- Find a natural acne treatment to help you control the problem. There is also a similar formula for scarring including acne scars.
Always avoid over-the-counter products for acne as these can be very harsh and even make the situation worse. Some have serious side effects such as skin irritation, burning or redness. Some doctors recommend antibiotics and although these can be effective for treating acne, no-one should be on prolonged courses of antibiotics. Be particularly careful of Retinoids. These are sometimes used for treating acne and are usually rubbed onto the skin once a day. The eyes, mouth and the area under the nose are particularly at risk from this medication which also increases your chances of getting very bad sunburn. If you are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, Retinoid must be avoided at all costs.
If you are an adult and still suffering from acne or just started to get outbreaks, this could be due to other causes
- The use of anabolic steroids either in medications or sometimes illegally by athletes to “bulk up”
- The exceptional physical pressure on the skin from a job or hobby such as chafing from the straps of a backpack or tucking a violin between the jaw and chin
- Working with chlorinated industrial chemicals as these could cause an occupational skin disorder
- Changes in your hormonal balance due to pregnancy, menstruation or any other hormonal abnormality
There are 2 goals for the treatment of acne
to reduce the number of inflamed spots in order to prevent skin scarring (acne scars) along with psychological distress and secondly
to prevent new spots from forming. If you already have some scarring, trying using a natural scar removal formula
to help reduce the appearance of those scars and smooth the skin texture. To achieve these goals, you need to reduce inflammation; reduce sebum production; reduce the proliferation of skin cells and reduce levels of the bacterial propionibacterium acnes. If you suffer an outbreak of acne, try to get to the root of what is causing or aggravating this outbreak before it gets worse.