Teenage Acne

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There are a million and one clichés and stereotypes out there about spotty teenagers. Unfortunately, the reason the exist is because they are accurate. In fact, it is thought that around 80% of teenagers suffer from acne during puberty. Acne vulgaris is the type of acne that usually affects teenagers. It includes blackheads, whiteheads, papules (minor, raised red bumps) and pustules (raised lumps with yellow or white tops). In severe cases teenagers can also develop nodules (large, sore, red lumps) and cysts (large, inflamed, pus filled lumps). These ‘spots’ usually affect the face but can also be found on the body, including the back, the chest, the upper arms, the thighs and the buttocks.

Teenage Acne and Hormones

The main reason that so many teenagers get acne is because of the surge of hormones that affect us all during puberty. When we hit puberty we produce high levels of hormones, especially androgens, which stimulate the glands in our skin to produce too much natural oil (sebum). This oil blocks our pores, which causes blackheads and whiteheads. If these blackheads and whiteheads become infected with bacteria they get inflamed which results in papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. The hormone androgen includes the male sex hormone testosterone and because boys almost always have higher levels of testosterone than women they are more likely to have acne and experience the worst cases of it.

Cure for Teenage Acne

Unfortunately there is no cure for any kind of acne. It is important to remember that acne is almost always temporary. Nearly every teenager who suffers from acne finds that by the time they reach their late teens or early twenties they are pimple-free. In unusual cases acne can persist into middle age but this is extremely uncommon. Although there is no cure there are many treatments and routines that can improve your acne.

Teenage Acne Tips

For all acne sufferers there are a few easy rules to follow to improve, or at least avoid worsening, your condition. These are all good standard care procedures for acne; however, in moderate-to-severe cases it is important that you consult your doctor or dermatologist.

  • Never, and this means absolutely never, pick, squeeze, scratch or tamper with your acne. The temporary relief you may feel after squeezing a pustule is not worth it. Tampering with your skin in this way allows the bacteria on your fingers and hands to come into contact with your acne, which is very likely to make it worse, and can leave you with permanent scarring.
  • Try to keep your hands and fingers away from your face at all times to avoid spreading bacteria to your acne.
  • Keep your hair as grease and oil-free as possible. If you have a hairstyle that covers your face consider changing it to one that leaves your skin clear.
  • Do not scrub or harshly exfoliate acne. This can worsen it by damaging your pores further.
  • Instead, gently wash your face once or twice a day with a light, oil-free cleanser and lukewarm water

Teenage Acne and Depression

Your teenage years can be some of the most stressful of your life. Hormonal changes can affect your mood while your body is rapidly changing. Young people experience a lot of pressure to look good and to conform at this age and acne can seriously affect you emotionally. Acne can cause or worsen depression so it is as important to look after yourself mentally too. It is important to be honest with your doctor or dermatologist about the effect your acne has on you emotionally so that you can receive the help you need. Further support can be found on the many acne forums that exist on the internet.

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