If there’s one thing you can count on as a teen, it’s acne. More than 85% of teenagers have this common skin problem, which is marked by clogged pores (whiteheads, blackheads), painful pimples, and, sometimes, hard, deep lumps on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms.
If your mom and dad had acne, chances are good that you will, too. But there are many ways to prevent (and treat) acne today to keep the condition minimal, prevent scarring, and leave your skin glowing.
What Causes Acne?
To understand acne, you need to know how your skin works. The pores in your skin contain oil glands. When you hit puberty, there’s an increase in sex hormones called androgens. The excess hormones cause your oil glands to become overactive, enlarge, and produce too much oil, or sebum. When there’s too much sebum, the pores or hair follicles become blocked with skin cells. The increase in oil also results in an overgrowth of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes.
If blocked pores become infected or inflamed, a pimple — a raised red spot with a white center — forms. If the pore clogs, closes, and then bulges, you have a whitehead. A blackhead occurs when the pore clogs, stays open, and the top has a blackish appearance due to oxidation or exposure to air. (This has nothing to do with skin being “dirty”).
When bacteria grow in the blocked pore, a pustule may appear, meaning the pimple becomes red and inflamed. Cysts form when the blockage and inflammation deep inside pores produce large, painful lumps beneath the skin’s surface.
Hormonal changes related to birth control pills, menstrual periods, and pregnancy can trigger acne. Other external acne triggers include heavy face creams and cosmetics, hair dyes, and greasy hair ointment — all of which can increase blockage of pores.
Clothing that rubs your skin may also worsen acne, especially on the back and chest. So can heavy sweating during exercise, and hot, humid climates. Stress is known to trigger increased oil production, which is why many teens have a new crop of pimples on the first day of school or just before that big date.
What Are the Symptoms of Acne?
While the symptoms of acne vary in severity, you’ll notice these signs on areas of your body with the most oil glands (the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms):
- Clogged pores (pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads)
- Papules (raised lesions)
- Pustules (raised lesions with pus)
- Cysts (nodules filled with pus or fluid)
The least severe type of acne lesion is the whitehead or blackhead. This type is also the most easily treated. With more extensive acne, you may need prescription medications to ease inflammation, bacterial infection, redness, and pus.
Can I Prevent Acne?
There are some steps you can take to prevent acne. To prevent oily skin that can contribute to acne, keep your skin clean. Wash your face and neck twice daily with mild soap and warm water. But never scrub your face! That can irritate your skin and worsen acne. If you have an overly active oil build-up, having regular MILD facials will remove excess oil and clear the skin of the excess dead skin cells which clog the pores and trap the oils.
Contact Lauren or Zeenat on 021 683 8177 now to book the relevant Facial, or book online (see Definitive Teen Facial option).