If pizza and chocolate don't cause acne and washing your face doesn't necessarily mean they'll all go away, what does causes acne, and is there anything you can really do about it?
Acne is a disease of the sebaceous glands, which produce an oily substance called sebum that lubricates and protects the skin. An increase in the androgen hormone makes sebum thicker, making it more susceptible to getting trapped underneath the skin’s surface, causing a pimple. Bacteria can also infect the gland, creating an inflamed pimple, blackhead or cystic boil. Heredity also plays a role in acne – meaning if your parents suffered from acne as a teen, chances are you will too.
So basically, acne is linked to hormones – especially testosterone. And YES there is something you can do about it. First, you cannot ignore acne, because it won’t go away on its own. The trick is putting your time, money and skin through the right regime that’s going to give you the best results.
You can use “tried and true” ways to treat acne; these are active ingredients such as salicylic acid, which has been used for years. But there are also new innovations and breakthroughs in skincare, such as photo light therapy, that are working better than ever to help people suffering from acne obtain clinical results at home.
Why do you think some teens are subject to an uncanny amount of acne, while others only get one or two pimples here and there?
Acne is determined by the amount of testosterone someone is producing - and other factors can aggravate breakouts, such as not washing your face or picking. For example, a 16-year-old boy may have more breakouts because of his hormone levels, where as a girl the same age may not. However, an adult female who just gave birth to a baby may be experiencing an increase in testosterone and experience severe, cystic acne, perhaps even for the first time in her life.
In your opinion, what is good skin hygiene for a teen? Should teens go to extremes when searching for a cure to their acne or just wait it out hoping it will go away?
Good hygiene for a teen starts with the minimal treatment, which is washing the face with a cleanser containing some active ingredient that can treat acne (I recommend a cleanser containing 2% salicylic acid). At the very minimum, teens should be keeping the surface of the skin clean and exfoliating dead skin cells by washing their face every morning and before bed.
In terms of searching for a cure, unfortunately there isn’t one. But you can treat acne with a variety of products and solutions out there, everything from over-the-counter topical treatments to prescription-strength medications. However, I do believe teens should do whatever it takes to find the right treatment for their individual skin type, lifestyle and budget. No one should have to settle for having bad skin. And your acne treatment regime should treat, prevent and heal the skin. I recommend finding a solution that does these three things.
Start by researching the different treatment options out there to find the solution that gives you the best results for the best value. Teens shouldn’t have to go to extreme measures, like paying thousands of dollars for laser treatments or checking themselves into a high-end spa, to treat their acne. And some prescription medications come with extreme side effects. So I cannot stress enough the importance of doing your research!
Do you have any suggestions for dealing with acne in a social setting?
People suffering from mild to severe acne can experience a decrease in self-esteem, feelings of despair and hopelessness, shyness, social anxiety and even depression – so acne definitely affects the way we live and interact in social settings.
First thing’s first, start by finding a treatment regime that works for you so you can stop being ashamed of your skin. Obviously, you don’t want to pick at your face or try to cover up with oily makeup. And some acne treatments cause embarrassing, even dangerous, side effects.
Having a zit, pimple, cyst – whatever you want to call it – is embarrassing enough but a lot of people are actually more insecure about the damage caused by acne, so not just the pimples but the scars, scabs and redness that all too often come with the territory. That is why it’s important to find a regimen that will not only treat acne blemishes, but also repair and heal the skin.
How do you recommend talking to your parents about shopping for an acne care regime? It can be a rather embarrassing discussion, especially if you're dealing with acne in places other than your face.
Express to your parents how your skin makes you feel. Is it affecting your performance in school or your ability to make new friends? Then, do your homework! Research the available treatment options and how much they cost. For example, does your health insurance cover some acne prescriptions or treatments? Show your parents you’ve done the research and you’re ready to have clear skin once and for all.
Then decide with your parents what price point is going to be realistic for your family and what kind of treatment plan is going to be most effective for the severity of your acne and your budget. Remember that you deserve to have clear skin!