Being a teenager is tough. You’re just starting to grow into yourself and your body is changing and developing. We can all recall our days as teens, and my guess is that for most of us, at least some of those memories include the horrors of braces, acne, and the likes. Like I said, growing up isn’t always easy and the teenage years can be some of the toughest, especially for those who experience acne. In my 30 years of practicing dermatology, I’ve seen my fair share of teens suffering terribly from it, including my own son. It can be very difficult to experience and causes many teens and young adults to become self-conscious and uncomfortable in their own skin (literally and figuratively).
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the US, affecting 50 million Americans annually, and approximately 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne. In teens, acne develops when the oil glands produce a substance called sebum, which is an oil that lubricates your skin and hair. Typically, your body produces the correct amount of sebum, but as a teen, when your body is developing and changing, this production can get out of whack. If your body produces too much sebum, your pores become clogged, bacteria grows, and acne develops. While in most cases acne will clear up as you get older, it can still be a very traumatic experience for teens.
While you can’t always help or stop acne from developing, there are some steps that you can take to decrease the severity and help to treat it:
Keep your skin clean. Use a wash containing either glycolic acid or salicylic acid twice a day. The former is better for pimples, the latter for whiteheads & blackheads. Products containing benzoyl peroxide are very effective for mild acne as well, however, don’t use the benzoyl and salicylic peroxides at the same time, as this will be too harsh on your skin. Glytone Mild Cream Cleanser is a great product for every day use, while Topix Gly-Sal 2-2 cleanser is good for more oily skin as it offers the benefits of a combination of glycolic and salicylic acids.
Exfoliate and control oil. While you shouldn’t exfoliate every day, doing so 2-3 times per week is great for your skin and will help clear out clogged pores and remove dead skin cells. Since acne in teens is typically caused by excess oil production, you can also try to control the oil on your face using a toner. Solver toner is a great choice, but again, it should only be used on more oily skin types.
Know your skin type. Knowing your skin type is not only important in learning the best products to use for your skin, it’s also essential to keeping your breakouts at a minimum. If you’re using the wrong products or routines for a skin type other than your own, it can cause acne (and a plethora of other skin issues). The products you use matter a lot and there is such thing as overusing or overdoing it when it comes to beauty products. I remember my daughter as a teen loved to try out all sorts of new things. She was experimenting with new products, makeups, routines, and in the end, she started to break out from it. Learn your skin type and stick to products that work well for it.
Keep your hands away from your face. I cannot stress this enough. I know how tempting it is to touch your face and try to pop pimples to try to get rid of them sooner. I promise you, however, that this will have the opposite effect. When you touch your face, you’ll get the bacteria from the pimples on your hands and will likely spread it to other places on your face, only worsening acne. Not to mention, popping pimples can cause infection, inflammation, and even scarring.
Take care of yourself. If you want your skin to look great, you need to take care of the rest of your body. Make sure to eat a well balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and exercise. All of these things will help reduce acne and will also keep your body feeling great. You should also try to minimize or reduce stress as much as possible, as this is one of the few external factors that can affect acne.
Acne is a very common problem among teens and while it’s not always something that can be prevented, as you can see, there are steps you can take to help treat it. I know acne can be tough and is not something fun for anyone to go through. If your acne does not improve at all or begins to worsen, I urge you to visit your dermatologist for stronger/more aggressive treatments and medications.
Note: All views expressed in this blog post are the personal opinions of the guest blogger. mySkin.com doesn’t favor any particular skincare brand or take advertising from any of them. Our scientific algorithm is entirely unbiased and based on your skin profile.
Author Bio: Dr. Alan J. Parks founded Eastside Dermatology & DermWarehouse. Dr. Parks is board certified in dermatology with clinical interests including cosmetic and surgical dermatology, laser treatments, BOTOX® Cosmetic, and skin cancer surgery. Dr. Parks is a recipient of the American Academy of Dermatology Community Service Award for skin cancer screening and the Edmund D. Lowney Teaching Award for teaching dermatology residents. Dr. Parks is also a member of the mySkin community and you can check out his profile here.