Helping Your Teen Understand and Deal with Acne

Adults who haven’t blocked out their memories can recall how difficult it was being a teenager. A rush of hormones leaves most teens dealing with a flood of emotions they have never experienced before, and their constantly growing bodies can often leave them feeling awkward and clumsy. As the opposite sex becomes more appealing, teens start to become more sensitive about their appearance, which can lead many kids to develop issues with their body image.

One of the biggest issues most teens have with their appearance comes from acne. A study conducted by the American Medical Association found that 83 percent of teenagers worry at least occasionally about their complexion, and approximately 33 percent say that their acne has made them feel anxious, embarrassed, or frustrated. Over 85 percent of all teenagers deal with some type of acne, leaving 25 percent with permanent scars. Despite the overwhelming number of teens who suffer with acne, only 11 percent ever seek professional help dealing with their complexion.

For many teens, trying to separate fact from fiction about what causes acne can make dealing with their condition even more difficult.

teens

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vancouverpubliclibrary/6964260740/

Acne Myths

 

Most teens hear a lot of conflicting information about acne that, in truth, has little to do with their complexion. These myths can include:

  • Eating greasy foods and chocolate causes acne
  • Dirty skin and long hair that covers the forehead causes acne
  • Acne only occurs to teenagers
  • Acne appears because of psychological problems
  • Acne cannot be cured
  • Sunlight can help dry up the skin and improve acne
  • Dealing with acne is a stage that all teens must deal with
  • Dermatologists can’t help teens deal with their acne

The longevity some of these myths have enjoyed demonstrates how much misinformation gets passed around about the causes of acne. No scientific link, for example, has ever been found that links what a teen eats, no matter how greasy, to their complexion, and a teen could wash their face once an hour and still develop acne. Like many things in the life of a teenager, whether they develop acne is almost completely out of their control.

The Real Causes of Acne

 

Acne, in teens and adults, is predominantly caused by three factors.

  • Heredity- finally there is something your teen can blame you for and not be entirely incorrect about. The gene that causes acne is autosomal, meaning that just like having blonde hair or blue eyes, parents who suffered or suffer from acne can pass on the genetic predisposition for acne to their children.
  • Hormones- since they are already blamed for pretty much everything during puberty, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that hormones directly lead to acne. At the beginning of puberty, a teens hormones begin to cause oil ducts on the face, back, and upper chest to start producing excess oil, which leads to the third cause of acne.
  • Clogged oil ducts- the excess oil hormones cause a teen’s body to produce begins to clog the cells that line the ducts. When these ducts become clogged, whiteheads and acne pimples begin to form.

While these three factors are the underlying causes of acne, there are other aggravating factors that can help increase the frequency of breakouts. For boys and girls, cosmetic products are the second largest contributing factor to the development of acne. Whether it’s powder and foundation or hair styling products and shaving gel, the majority of over-the-counter cosmetic products contain comedogenic ingredients that clog pours. The idea that bangs or hair in the face causes acne is actually true only in that it’s the products a teen uses on their hair that causes acne after coming into constant contact with the skin. Lesser, but still prominent, causes of acne can include stress, high levels of heat and humidity, and certain medications.

Dealing with Acne

 

While acne has no cure, your teen can take several steps to decrease the frequency of their outbreaks.

  • Use makeup sparingly during a breakout, and make sure to wash your face thoroughly to remove the product at the end of the day.
  • Keep your hands away from your face, as touching already inflamed skin can cause irritation and further breakouts.
  • Carefully select the product you use on your hair, and consider using products that don’t contain harsh chemicals.
  • Try using an over-the-counter acne product that contains benzoyl peroxide, which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends as the most effective remedy.
  • Consult a dermatologist if you suffer from extreme acne that does not respond to normal treatment.

A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke blogs about health and family matter for Dr. Timothy Harbolt, a Salem Oregon dentist.

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