One of the most common problems of adolescence, acne is estimated to affect around 80% of teenagers in one form or the other. That’s huge! So, what are the causes of acne for teenagers? While acne is largely treatable and causes no real harm to your physical being. In many cases, it causes damage to your psyche and reduces your self-confidence.
Even though acne is quite common, especially among teenagers. Many are unaware of what acne is all about and what really causes it. Over the years, many false notions about the causes and treatment of acne have been propped up and propagated. And blind belief in these myths has worsened many a teenager’s problems and has caused irreversible harm to the skin. In order to make informed decisions on your treatment plan, it is best that, as a teenager or a parent, you are well-informed about what acne actually entails. Here’s a look:
What is Acne?
Acne is a dermatological condition that involves the appearance of spots and, often painful, bumps on the skin. The spots and bumps most often appear on the face, but can also been seen on the neck, shoulders, back, chest and even the buttocks.
Between the age of 12 and 25, acne is a common affliction and is predominantly found in boys. Most cases of teenage acne are mild and settle down quickly after proper medication. Studies have shown that acne in three out of ten teenagers can be severe. When acne is severe, it calls for immediate treatment that not just tames the condition. But also helps prevent permanent scarring.
Even when left untreated, acne will probably take four to five years to settle down. However, in rare cases, acne can last much longer and can extend into adulthood. But such cases are rare and most teenagers are able to get rid of their acne well before they step into their twenties.
What are the Causes of Acne for Teenagers?
Teenage acne is often referred to as Acne Vulgaris which simply means that it is ‘acne of the common type’. In simple terms, acne occurs when your skin’s pores are clogged by an oily substance called sebum.
You skin is dotted my millions of pores or openings. These pores are in reality hair follicles and are made up of sebaceous glands or oil glands, as they are more informally called. The oil that the sebaceous gland generates is called sebum, and it plays a vital role in lubricating your hair and skin.
Usually, the sebaceous glands is capable of producing just the right amount of sebum. But, during your teen years, as the body goes through a sea of changes, your hormones may encourage the sebaceous glands to produce an increased amount of sebum. When the glands go into overdrive and start producing excess sebum, your pores get clogged and the oil remains trapped inside. Dead skin cells too shed into the pores; this is when you see blackheads, whiteheads and small pimples dotting your face. The appearance of these means that you have a mild form of acne.
In more severe cases, bacteria too will build up in your pores. When sebum gets trapped in your pores, it is an ideal environment for Propionibacterium Acnes to thrive. These bacteria are, in actuality, a part of your skin’s makeup and don’t cause any notable harm. However, when there is an increased amount of sebum, the bacteria multiply and the immune system immediately gets into action. This causes inflammations on your skin and pus-filled pimples crop up. This is a severe type of acne and, if it gets worse, the puss-filled pimples can also transform into cysts and small nodules.
To Put it Clearly. These are the Most Common Forms of Acne:
1. Whiteheads: When a pore clogs and is closed due to sebum and skin layers, it forms a hard, small bulge in the skin, this is a whitehead.
2. Blackheads: When a clogged pore remains open, a black layer forms on the pore’s surface. This is a blackhead. The blackhead does not get its color due to dirt but due to the interaction between the bacteria, other matter, and oxygen.
3. Papules, pustules and nodules: These are rather noticeable spots that appear to be red and swollen. The spots appear because the tissue around the clogged pores are either inflamed or infected. These pimples will be hard and are also filled with pus.
4. Cysts: The most severe form of acne, these are painful lesions that are filled with pus and are most likely to leave irreversible scars.
When the acne is on the severe side, healing takes longer than when you have a mild form. For example, you may notice that after a pimple has died down, it leaves behind dis-colored skin that may take even months to fully go away. Moreover, when you have huge pimples, they are very likely to leave pitted scars on the surface of your skin. These scars don’t fade completely and are a tell-tale sign that a person has acne or has had acne in the past.
Reasons for Severe Acne
In rare cases, acne can be caused by other reasons in girls or women. For example, if you have a condition called Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), you are likely to develop acne. Or if you have a mild form of acne, it may get worse. This acne occurs because the ovaries or adrenal gland produce male hormones in excess. This form of acne is usually accompanied by other glaring symptoms like hirsutism, and the thinning of the scalp.
Young teenage girls may also notice that they get a pimple or two around the time of menstruation. This is completely normal and is called Premenstrual Acne. Statistics suggest that seven out of ten women get pimples during this time due to the hormonal changes in their bodies.
Why Do Some Teenagers Get Acne, While Others Do Not?
Nobody can pinpoint the reason why acne occurs in some and is absent in others. But one of the most important factors in the origins of acne is the androgen hormone. Androgens are, basically, male sex hormones. During puberty, the production of androgens in the body sees an increase in both males and females. It is these androgens that urge the sebaceous glands into generating more oil that eventually leads to the clogging of pores. So, if your body is producing androgens in excess, during your adolescent years, it is very likely that you will have teenage acne.
Another leading factor deals with your genetics. There is enough research to support the theory that your genes are a contributing factor in deciding whether or not you will develop acne.
What Can Cause Acne To Get Worse?
1. Picking at your skin and squeezing your pores. Especially when you are prone to pimples, can cause the infection to spread, in turn making the acne more severe.
2. Rubbing your skin, while washing and exfoliating it too often can further irritate your skin.
3. The friction caused by tight clothing and profuse sweat can cause acne to worsen. Areas around headbands, bra straps, bike helmets, and tight collars are susceptible to acne.
4. Medicines usually prescribed for epilepsy and ointments used in the treatment of eczema can have a harsh effect on your acne. Consult your doctor and work out a treatment plan that will not increase the occurrence of acne.
5. Contraceptives that only contain progestogen can cause acne to increase.
6. Wearing greasy make-up can have an ill effect on your skin as it further clogs your pores. Instead, wear light, oil-free make up to help your skin breathe. Also, make sure that you wash your face before putting makeup on and wash the makeup off before going to bed.
What Does Not Cause Acne?
1. Food habits: This is a tricky one for me. Many believe that consuming oily or fatty food can cause acne. For me, this has some truth. However, there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. Having a healthy diet can improve your overall well-being which helps acne. But personally, I think diet does have a lot to do with it. In any case, it is best to stick by a balanced diet. To find out what I think is the best natural treatment. Click Here
2. Hygiene: A lot of people dismiss acne as a side-effect of poor hygiene habits. This is not true. If you are predisposed to acne, you are bound to get it no matter how clean you are. In fact, washing your face too many times can increase your acne since you are getting rid of the protective oils embedded in your skin.
3. Moisturizers: There are many acne prone teenagers who don’t use moisturizers because they think that it will increase their acne. However, when your skin is dry, your body automatically produces more oil that can lead to clogging. Experts recommend that teenagers invest in a good moisturizer with at least SPF 30 so that they can have healthier skin.
There are some over-the-counter products that will help you get rid of acne. I’d research them carefully and decide what suits your needs the best before rushing out to buy them. But then again, I’ve unsuccessfully tried most of them. If your acne is on the severe side, it is better to consult a dermatologist. And, go by a plan to ensure that you get rid of the acne. There is a website devoted to such plans here.