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teenage acneThere is a lot of misinformation in magazines, on television and the internet about teenage acne.  Hopefully this article can clear up some of the confusion.

1)      Children between 7-12 are now beginning to have acne.  By their mid-teen years, as many as 40% will have some form of acne.

2)      Physical changes are occurring early in puberty that is associated with acne.  Girls may have their first menstrual cycle as early as eight year old; develop breasts and growth of public hair.  Boys develop a little later, but other contributors may include growth hormones in milk and meat.

3)      There are multiple causes of teenage acne outside of raging hormones like over production of sebum, processed foods, too high intake of sugar and poor cleansing habits.

4)      Teen acne begins in the T-zone (center of the face, cheeks & forehead) as well as the chest and back.  Acne on the back may be exacerbated by the rubbing of backpacks on the skin as well as wearing clothes that are too tight and too many layers.  Fabrics have too much rubber or latex and does not allow the skin to breathe like cotton clothing.

5)      Boys are more reluctant to seek help for acne than girls.  Picking, using harsh scrubs, alcohol-based astringents, hot water and self-extraction can make the situation worse.  These actions can cause P. acnes bacteria to spread to other areas of the face and self-extraction can also rupture the pore.

6)      Controlling the over production of sebum is important, but it is also imperative to keep the skin hydrated.  Cleansing the skin with hot water drys out the skin leaving it in a more fragile state.

7)      It is important to stop bacteria growth, P. acnes can lead to severe infection (it is after all a staph infection) and must be treated carefully.  Benzoyl peroxide is effective, but it is not for everyone.  Other alternatives are colloidal silver, meadowsweet, salicylic acid, tea tree and sulfur.

8)      Cleansing morning and night is a must for skin health.  Many girls go to bed with makeup on.  Makeup gathers dust, grime and sweat during the day that should be washed off before bed.  It will get on the pillowcase and become a breeding ground for bacteria.  It is important to change pillowcases often while experiencing a severe acne breakout period.  Makeup can also clog pores that can exacerbate acne causing Acne Cosmetica.

9)      Be very gentle when using an exfoliants.  I strongly recommend not using exfoliants for acne.  Products that contain ground stone, fruit pits and shells may have sharp edges that may cause tears in the skin and open up lesions that can spread P. acnes bacteria.  Granules can also get lodged in the lesions and become infected causing inflammation.  Avoid the use of rough cleansing pads and loofahs  because they cannot be cleaned and can harbor bacteria.

10)  Inflammation can be calmed with products that contain green tea, camphor, oleanolic acid, licorice root or white birch extract (avoid if sensitive to aspirin).

Reference:

King, D. (2014). Dermascope, “10 things about teen age acne”.  Retrieved March 12, 2014, from” http://www.dermascope.com/acne/10-things-about-teenage-acne?print=1%tmpl=component#.UyCiP_IdUeo

 

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