If you are a teenager, it is quite likely that you have some acne. About eight out of 10 teens have acne, along with many adults.
Acne is so common that it is considered a normal part of puberty. But just knowing this information doesn’t help much when you look in the mirror and discover that you have a huge pimple on your face. So what is acne and what can you do to combat it.
What is acne and what causes it?
Acne is a skin condition that manifests itself as different types of bumps or bumps. It can be pimples or blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and cysts. Adolescents develop acne due to the hormonal change typical of puberty. If your parents had acne during adolescence, you are more likely to develop it, too. The good news is that, for most people, acne almost completely disappears by the time they are out of their teens.
The type of acne that many teenagers have is called acne vulgaris (the meaning „vulgaris” is not as negative as it sounds, it means „the most common type”). It usually appears on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest.
The hair follicles of the skin (or pores) contain sebaceous glands . These glands produce sebum , which is the oil that lubricates the hair and skin. Most of the time, the sebaceous glands make the right amount of sebum. But as the body begins to mature, hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum, and they can become overactive. If there is excess sebum and too many dead skin cells, the pores become clogged. So bacteria (especially those of the Propionibacterium acnes species) can get trapped inside the pores and reproduce, making the skin swollen and red – the beginning of acne.
If a pore becomes clogged and closed but protrudes on the surface of the skin, it is called a whitehead . If a pore becomes clogged but remains open, the top layer may darken, in which case it is called a pimple or blackhead . Sometimes the pore wall opens, allowing sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells to work their way under the skin and form red pimples (sometimes the pimples are tipped with pus, due to the reaction of the body to bacterial infection).
Clogged pores that open deep into the skin can lead to nodules, which are infected lumps or cysts that are larger than pimples and can be painful. Sometimes large cysts that look like acne can be boils caused by staph infections.
Myths about acne
There are some myths about the factors that cause acne. However, some people find that they have more and worse episodes of acne when they eat an excess of a certain type of food. If you are among these people, it is worth trying to eliminate those foods from your diet to see what happens.
Stress is not usually the cause of acne (although it can make pre-existing acne worse because stress increases sebum production).
There are also myths about the factors that improve acne. Acne does not improve with sun exposure. Although tanning can hide acne temporarily, it doesn’t help make it go away permanently. In addition, some people find that the oil that the skin secretes after being exposed to the sun makes their pimples worse.
What can I do to fight acne?
To avoid the accumulation of oil that can contribute to acne, wash your face once or twice a day with mild soap and warm water. Do not rub your face vigorously with a washcloth or washcloth: acne cannot be removed that way, since rubbing it or rubbing it with force will make it worse, by irritating the skin and pores. Try to clean your face as gently as possible.
If you use makeup or sunscreen, make sure the products you use are listed as „non-greasy,” „non-comedogenic,” or „non-acnegenic.” And, when you wash your face, make sure you take enough time to remove all your makeup so it doesn’t clog your pores.
If you use hair fixatives in the form of a spray or gel, try to avoid that when you apply them, they do not come in contact with your face, since they can also clog your pores. If you wear long hair and it touches your face, be sure to wash your hair often enough so it doesn’t get greasy. And, if after class you work in a place that involves being in contact with oils, such as a fast food restaurant or a gas station, always wash your face well when you get home. Washing your face after exercising can also help.
There are many over-the-counter lotions and creams that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to help prevent and treat acne. You can experiment with these products to see if they help you. Make sure you follow their instructions for use exactly: do not use more than the amount indicated in each application (your skin could become too dry , which would spoil it and make you look worse) and, before applying the product, follow the corresponding instructions for see if you are allergic .
What if, still and everything, I get acne?
Sometimes people, even if they wash their faces properly and use non-greasy lotions and makeup, develop acne anyway; it’s completely normal. In fact, some girls who have acne problems find that acne appears a few days before having their menstrual period. This acne is called premenstrual acne and it occurs in approximately seven out of 10 women due to hormonal changes associated with menstruation.
Some teens with acne may see a doctor or dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin problems), who will prescribe medication to treat acne. Depending on the type of acne, this might mean using prescription creams to prevent pimples, taking antibiotics that kill bacteria that contribute to pimples, or, for severe acne, taking stronger drugs like isotretinoin or even having minor surgery. Some girls find that taking oral contraceptives relieves acne.
If, when you look in the mirror, you see that you have a pimple on your face, do not touch it, squeeze it, pop it or poke it . This can take a lot of effort, as it is quite tempting to try to remove the pimple. But if you handle the pimples, you could increase inflammation by poking and / or splitting them. Also, the oil on your hands won’t help at all! However, the worst and most important thing is that if you pick at the pimples, you can get small permanent scars on your face.