Teen acne has always been a big problem, with over 85% of adolescents developing this skin disorder. Acne can last a few months, a few years, or can last well into adulthood, making many teenagers’ lives a misery.
The teenage years are already rife with confusion, mixed emotions, and turmoil, and acne is simply an added nightmare that puts the icing on the cake for many adolescents. Teen acne is developed through the production of androgens, which are hormones that are produced during the onset of puberty.
Teen Acne Causes, Myths, and Stories
During the early teen years, boys and girls are at greater risk for acne breakouts, when the oil glands in the body start over-producing sebum (a skin oil that can resemble grease). Adding to the problem, your body sheds dead skin cells constantly and some people have “sticky” skin cells that don’t shed normally they just remain attached to the skin. In people who have acne, These excess skin cells can mix with the oil and plug up the hair follicles.
Quite a few myths are floating around out there about what causes acne. Let’s straighten some out right now. Dirt does not cause acne. A blackhead may look like dirt plugging one of your pores, but that is not the cause. The sebum and skin cells mix together and sometimes rise to the opening of the pore. The sticky mixture can attract dirt so the opening looks black. But the real cause is still deep inside the pore.
Enjoy your chocolate and French fries. Stories you’ve heard of them are simply false. Indulging in these favorites does not increase the production of sebum in the skin. Some of you may have been told that sexual activity or masturbation can cause acne. Not true. While there are many other reasons to be careful about sex, acne is not one of them. While both boys and girls can get acne it’s more likely to be worse in boys because their bodies produce more skin oils. You can also inherit the tendency to develop breakouts. Chances are if your mom or dad has had acne so will you?
Strangely enough, your immune system can come into play as well making you extra sensitive to the bacteria that get trapped in the hair follicles. Antibodies rush to the site and cause the inflammation that can bring on pimples.
Something else you should know what can make acne worse. If you use makeup, suntan products or hair products that contain oil they can add to the pore-plugging problem. Being under stress like applying to schools, or struggling with grades, or even dating pressures can help bring out acne. During a girl’s period, hormone levels may create more sebum in the skin, which can worsen the breakouts. And, beware of the sun not only can it damage your skin and cause premature aging it can also cause pimples. While keeping your skin clean is an important part of treatment, remember to be gentle no hard scrubbing, no picking or squeezing. You can survive acne.
Could Bread Cause Teen Acne?
How much bread do you eat? Did you know that teens who eat lots of bread may get more acne? Acne appears in up to 60% of 12-year-olds and 95% of 18-year-olds. Some scientists believe the modern Western diet is to blame.
Studies done by US scientists show that refined sugar, along with wheat and other grains, can raise insulin levels. Studies were done by researchers previously show that too much insulin could lead to acne. And those new low-carbohydrate diets that are so popular right now? It’s possible that they can lead to reduced acne breakouts for some.
Research conducted by Colorado State University’s Loren Cordain has suggested that insulin surges may be triggered by easily-digested refined bread. IGF-1, a growth factor resembling insulin, can be produced as well. This combination of substances in the body can spike male hormones, which is known to created large amounts of sebum in the skin. And sebum, a thick substance that can build-up in the pores of the skin, encourages the bacterial growth responsible for acne.
Other research has pointed out a lack of acne among teenagers living in other parts of the world, where food is largely unprocessed. Acne only appeared among the Inuit people of Alaska when people there switched from their traditional fare to a Western-style diet.
Scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, are planning a major study to see if eating a low-carbohydrate diet can reduce the incidence of acne. The experiments will involve 60 teenage boys, tracked over the course of three months.
Lots of anecdotal evidence has been seen by dermatologists when they had their patients move to low-carbohydrate diets. But, the Australian research will be one of the first controlled studies to examine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on acne.
Psychological Effects of Teen Acne
Acne is a typical teenage affliction one that goes far beyond the physical symptoms. Zits can be ugly but the psychological/emotional effects of acne need significant attention as well. Acne can bring about major trauma for a teen the type of damage that may have life-long consequences.
During a transitional, emotion-packed time in a young person’s life, things can become incredibly complicated by even the smallest breakout. Many kids feel intense shame and retreat into a type of anguished hiding avoiding customary teen activities. Even if they do get out there and participate in social interactions, other teens can make cruel and hurtful remarks about acne. Many teens also feel that pimples happen because they’re repulsive or dirty. Some even think they’re guilty of some unknown crime, or they are being punished for something they did or failed to do.
Growing up these days is difficult as it is. Many people, including teens, walk around harboring negative self-images that can stick with them and affect their belief systems and actions for the rest of their lives especially if these feelings are never brought out and dealt with. Parents can be the crucial piece of the puzzle. Sensitivity from those closest to them can help teens be more self-accepting and do less self-flagellation for some supposed fault. Parents who tell their kids that they are beautiful, precious and special can provide an important psychological bridge over these turbulent feelings. Taking some “mirror time” to see beyond the pimples – while doing some positive self-affirmations can help too. In more severe cases, supportive psychotherapy or hypnotherapy can benefit any teen who is willing to put in the time and the effort. It’ll be worth it.
Many teens suffer emotional stress and fatigue brought on simply by being adolescents. Higher levels of hormones and adrenaline can result, which increases sebum production, and can eventually clog pores. Severe acne outbreaks have also been reported after prolonged sleep deprivation. Beauty sleep becomes more important than ever since skin cells are nourished and rejuvenated during sleep. Exercise can not only increase blood circulation and bring more oxygen to the skin it can also help soothe the mind and the emotions of teens bearing the agony of acne. In addition to plenty of sleep and exercise, relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation, or listening to relaxing music, have also been shown to be effective.
Psychologists who work with teen acne patients also see many patients in their 20s and 30s with difficult acne problems. It should be no surprise that many of these adults are still dealing with adolescent issues, such as sexual or professional identity, separation from parents, and repressed anger. Psychological help for adults coping with their teen issues can actually clear up their skin. All the more evidence to support the mind/body connection of acne.
Alone in the mirror with Teen acne?
Don’t feel too bad if you looked into the mirror this morning and saw a zit the size of the Empire State Building right in the middle of your chin. Clinical studies show that almost 100% of all teens have at least an occasional whitehead, blackhead or a pimple no matter what their race or ethnic heritage. Ages 12 through 20 are in the danger zone when most acne breakouts occur.
All the changes happening to your body and emotions right now are created by elevated hormone levels. When hormones are high, the glands that are attached to hair follicles (sebaceous glands) produce more sebum an oily substance that “lives” within the pores. An acne lesion (Whitehead, blackhead or a pimple) occurs when a hair follicle becomes plugged with the sebum and dead skin cells that are always being shed by the body. Brace yourself.
When acne begins sometime between the ages of 10 and 13 it’s usually going to go on for five, or even ten, years! The most severe cases in some teens stem from the development of comedones. Comedones are skin-colored, small bumps that frequently show up on the forehead and chin of those with acne. Some may be so small that they are not visible to the naked eye – these are called micro comedones. The heaviest breakouts will be at their worst at about 3 to 5 years after the first comedones appear.
The pimples and blackheads you’re experiencing right now should disappear sometime between ages of 20 and 25. However, the most severe cases nodular acne or cystic acne may not resolve until you’re 30 or over.
Above all, try not to isolate yourself just because you’re breaking out. Take a look around you. Lots of the kids you know are also walking around with acne your parents probably suffered with it as well when they were adolescents. Ask them. Acne has not singled you out besides, you’re not alone in feeling the way you do.
A survey of British teenagers found that they’re suffering the same emotional pain that you are. Almost 40% of them have avoided going to school because they were embarrassed. Over half of them felt that acne prevented them from having a boyfriend or girlfriend. About one-third said it got in the way of them being able to make friends. By treating your acne properly, you can protect yourself from the emotional effects of your condition, and you can stop the breakouts from getting worse.
There is good news. Because of advances in dermatology and available medications available by prescription and over-the-counter, nearly every case of acne can be controlled.
Teen Acne and Self-Esteem
How a person looks is vitally important in today’s society. The mass-media and popular culture are saturated with photos, celebrity quotes, and more. The message that teens can get? Often, looks are even more important than the person inside.
This twisted sense of self-image can backfire and lead to some truly horrible results. More and more teens are suffering from depression. Young girls seeking perfection can become anorexic or bulimic. Some kids even isolate themselves and are extremely uncomfortable in social situations. All these conditions that can grow out of the pressure that teens feel to “look good.”
So when acne strikes, how are teens equipped to deal with the prospect of looking “abnormal” or “ugly”? Teenagers can be cruel to each other, and to themselves. The American Academy of Dermatology has reported that a staggering 95% of American teenagers will suffer acne breakouts at some point during adolescence. Some kids can hide milder cases with makeup or flesh-colored over-the-counter treatments. Some even use their hair or clothing longer styles, hats, etc. However, sufferers of severe acne must stand exposed, with all their imperfections, for the world to see.
Since acne occurs so frequently in adolescence, blemished skin makes teens fear how they are viewed by their peers. Self-esteem and self-worth can be affected when kids are afraid of being judged by their contemporaries. Teens put up with so many anatomical changes that can make them feel “dirty.” It’s a particularly vulnerable time when kids worry about being accepted, and about the way they look.
Unfortunately, some parents can trivialize the teen’s fears. Attitudes like “I went through it and you’ll go through it” and it’ll go away. But when that first serious breakout happens acne typically gets worse before it gets better the teen may rationally agree that it’s probably a passing phase. However, while it’s “going away,” the teenager remains afraid of being judged by his peers, and serious self-esteem issues can result. These unsettling feelings about self-image can sabotage a young person already confused by this gateway to adulthood. This is a time in a teen’s life when he/she should get out and be involved in peer activities but fear of being “different” is strong. Parental support can be vital at a time like this. Even when teens appear to “not need” your help, playing a gentle supportive role can help a budding adult’s transition.
Teen Acne Treatment
There are many teen acne treatments that claim to ‘cure’ this condition, but many of these are simply empty promises that waste time and money, giving false hope to desperate teenagers. It can be very difficult to find a suitable product – particularly one that does not cause additional side effect due to the chemicals in it. This lack of effective treatment can simply add to the trauma of teen acne.