Teen Acne

Teen Acne Tips
If teens can agree on anything, it is that acne is the WORST. This skin problem affects more than 85% of teens and is frequently marked by pimples, clogged pores and occasionally hard lumps (cysts) on the face, neck, back, shoulders, chest, and arms. Acne can be caused by many things including excess oil production, accumulation of dead skin cells, hormones or bacterial infection. However, today acne can be treated and prevented in many ways.
Why does acne happen...
Understanding how skin functions are essential to understanding acne. The pores in the skin are lined with oil glands. Once puberty happens, the sex hormones, called androgens, start rising. The excess hormones make the oil glands overactive, expand and generate too much oil or sebum. The pores or hair follicles are covered with skin cells when there is too much sebum. The increase in oil also results in an overgrowth of bacteria called ​Propionibacterium acnes​. When dead skin cells, dirt and debris get trapped in the pore, this leads to comedonal acne. If blocked pores become infected or inflamed, a pimple (a raised red spot with a white center) forms. If the pore clogs, closes and then bulges, you have a whitehead. A blackhead occurs when the pore clogs, stays open and the top has a blackish appearance due to oxidation or exposure to air.
Types of Acne
Teenage acne is triggered by hormonal changes. This acne may still occur in adulthood indicating the hormones have more to do with acne than just oil production alone. Changing levels of testosterone, estrogen or progesterone can alter the body’s chemistry and lead to outbreaks of acne. Poor diet and less than optimal hygiene can also contribute to teen breakouts.
Not only do bacteria cause acne, but the fungus can as well. ​Pityrosporum or Malassezia Folliculitis ​is caused by yeast infection as opposed to traditional acne that is caused by bacteria. The Pityrosporum yeast actually lives on everyone’s skin but may invade the hair follicle when the yeast levels rise. This type of acne can be caused by sweating under clothes, not showering after sweating and wearing restrictive clothes.

Treatments for Acne
A healthy diet, hydration with water, good hygiene and cleaning routines can be very helpful in the prevention of acne. Probiotics can also be helpful by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut and thereby establishing the well-needed bacterial balance.
The treatments for acne range from over the counter (OTC) remedies to prescription drugs. Many OTC treatments have very few active ingredients or can be too harsh for the skin. Here are a few proven medical treatments that are effective for bacterial acne. Fungal or yeast acne is less common and treatments can range from olive oil to Selsun Blue medicated (ketaconazole 2%) shampoo to a combination of products mentioned below.
Benzoyl peroxide 10%
Benzoyl peroxide is one of the key ingredients used to treat mild to moderate acne. By killing bacteria, instead of just slowing it down, benzoyl peroxide is very good at helping manage breakouts by reducing the number of bacteria and drying out the skin. In skin cleansers, it works to prevent pimples before they form, as opposed to spot-treating them once they form.
Glycolic acid 5-10%/salicylic acid 2%
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that helps exfoliate your skin's top layers and help open the clogged hair follicles revealing the outermost layer of brighter, fresher skin.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that crystallizes to a small size to get into pores and gently unclog them by removing excess oil, grime, and dead skin cells. By exfoliating the buildup away, it can improve overall skin texture and prevent white and blackheads. When you use salicylic acid, it can also make your skin appear smoother.
Topical or oral antibiotics like clindamycin topically or oral tetracycline or minocycline can help treat the underlying bacterial causes of acne. These along with benzoyl peroxide and AHA/BHA cleansers would be the first-line options for the treatment of acne.
Oil-free moisturizer
Using a moisturizer every day can help your skin tolerate these medications. A moisturizer can also be helpful any time your skin feels dry, such as during the winter. When your skin becomes dry, your body makes more oil. The extra oil can clog your pores, which may lead to more breakouts.

Non-comedogenic products
Non-comedogenic is a fancy word that means not likely to cause comedones (or pore blockages). It's mainly used to describe skin care products and cosmetics. A product labeled non-comedogenic does not contain ingredients that are known to clog the pores.
Birth control pills
Birth control pills can help regulate hormonal changes in teenage girls. The majority of birth control pills use Ethinylestradiol as the estrogen ingredient. Since birth control pills reduce the amount of testosterone within the body, they often improve hormonal-based acne breakouts. These medications can be used in combination with skincare routines to help prevent acne episodes.
Retinol and Retinoids
Retinoids are topical Vitamin A derivatives that help regulate cell skin turnover and stimulate the production of collagen. Continued use of retinoids can help straighten out tortuous oil glands, unclogging pores thus helping them be less congested. This allows other medications to work better. By clearing acne and reducing outbreaks, retinoids may reduce the formation of acne scars.
Isotretinoin is one of the most efficacious treatments for severe acne​.​ Severe cystic acne can be difficult to handle so if other therapies do not clear the skin, oral isotretinoin (Accutane) could be an alternative. Isotretinoin therapy also results in extended acne clearance which may be permanent for some patients. Accutane represents a source of vitamin A. This reduces the amount of oil released to your skin by oil glands and allows your skin to regenerate itself faster. Accutane is for the prevention of extreme nodular acne. It is usually given if all other options for the treatment of acne have been used without effect.
All of these treatments have side effects (most commonly dryness and redness) so overuse is not recommended. Talking to an educated skincare specialist or physician can help improve acne and prevent it from occurring right from the start! There are many skincare products that don’t have high quality, effective or potent ingredients so know what products you are using for your best, acne-free face!

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