Acne is a common skin condition. Almost 8 in 10 teens have acne. It is so common that it is considered a normal part of puberty.
Effective treatments are available, but acne can be persistent. When one begins to go away, others seem to crop up. When you are looking at a big pimple on your face in the mirror, what can you do about it?
What is acne?
Acne is a condition of the skin that shows up as different types of bumps. These bumps can be blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. It usually shows up on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back and chest.
How it form?
Acne is a disease that affects the skin’s oil glands. The hair follicles or pores in our skin contain oil glands. These oil glands make oil called sebum that lubricates our hair and skin. Most of the time, the oil glands make the right amount of sebum. During puberty, the androgens hormones increase and cause the oil glands to enlarger and make more sebum.
The pores become clogged if there is too much oil and too many dead skin cells. Bacteria can then get trapped inside the pores and multiply. This causes swelling and redness — the start of acne.
What is the cause of acne?
• Hormonal changes during puberty.
• Acne often runs in families.
• Some medications can cause acne e.g. drugs containing corticosteroids.
• Diet – certain dietary factors e.g. dairy products and carbohydrate-rich foods may trigger acne.
• Changing hormone levels in adolescent girls two to seven days before the start of the menstrual period.
• Stress can make acne worse.
What can I do to prevent acne?
• Wash your face once or twice a day and after sweating.
• Try to clean your face as gently as you can with a mild soap.
• Do not over-wash or scrub your face hard. Acne is not caused by dirt. Too much cleaning and scrubbing the skin too hard can leave skin irritated and dry, triggering glands to produce more oil and make acne worse.
• If you use hair sprays or gels, try to keep them away from your face, as they also can clog pores.
• To avoid oily or greasy cosmetics, sunscreens or hairstyling products. Use products labelled water-based or noncomedogenic, which means they are less likely to cause acne.
• If you have oily hair or long hair that touches your face, be sure to wash it often enough to keep oil away.
• Some people do find that they notice their breakouts get more severe when they eat too much of a certain food. Try to cut back on that food.
• Many over-the-counter lotions and creams containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide are available to help prevent acne and clear it up at the same time. Be sure to follow the instructions exactly — don’t use more than you’re supposed to at one time, your skin may get too dried out and get worse.
• Let your skin heal naturally. If you pick, pop or squeeze your acne, your skin will take longer to clear and you increase the risk of getting acne scars.
• Consult a doctor or dermatologist (skin specialist) if you have acne that is not responding to self-care and over-the-counter treatments. Early, effective treatment of acne reduces the risk of scarring and of lasting damage to your self-esteem.
Acne can affect both physically and emotionally. Acne scars and dark marks may leave behind permanent reminders. Most acne scars and dark marks are caused by the more severe forms of acne. So, it is important to establish a good skin care routine early to prevent acne from appearing and to get treatment for acne soon after it appears to prevent further severe acne and more scarring.
*This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. Like any printed material, it may become out-of-date over time.