According to the American Academy of Dermatology, nearly 100% of all teens have at least the occasional breakout. Acne strikes all teenagers equally, regardless of sex, race or ethnicity. So what is it about teenagers that makes acne so prevalent?
To answer this question we need to look at what is going on within the body of a teenager during this time. Teen acne usually begins around the age of 10-13 and usually lasts through the late teens into the early 20s. During this time in a young person’s life, their hormones are going through some major changes. It is these changes in hormones that are the main culprit for teenage acne.
What Happens to a Teenager’s Hormones?
During puberty your body starts producing high levels of the hormones known as androgens. In boys this is primarily testosterone. In girls the main source of androgens is from the conversion of estrogen. Girls can also experience monthly flare ups due to their menstrual cycle.
How Does This Cause Acne?
Excess amounts of these hormones can cause the sebaceous glands (oil glands) to become over active. When too much oil is produced, it gets combined with dead skin and clogs your pores. When the pores are clogged, the oil is not able to be excreted and causes inflammation. The inflammation sends a message to your body that something is wrong and in defense, your body rushes white blood cells to the pore, causing the much loathed whitehead.
What Can You Do About Teen Acne?
Unfortunately there is not much you can do about the hormonal aspect of teen acne, as this is simply part of adolescence that once must go through. However, there are things that can be done to combat the effects of the over-production of oil and clogged pores.
One of the most effective treatments is called Blu-U. This treatment uses a cool laser that has anti-microbial properties to reduce the amount of bacteria in the pores. Blu-U can be made even more effective by combining it with a topical solution called Levulan which is activated by the Blu-U laser for an even deeper penetration.
Another great option that can be done from home is the SkinMedica Acne Kit. This 3-part kit consists of a foaming wash, purifying toner, and acne treatment lotion. This is a great daily use kit for treating minor to moderate acne.
I would advise against the use of the oral acne medications such as Accutane (also known as Isotretinoin) due to it’s many side effects. Accutane has been linked to such side effects as depression, seizures, joint & muscle pain, blurred vision, nausea, ulcerative colitis, liver damage, and birth defects.
Why Do Some Adults Get Acne?
For most people acne largely goes away in adulthood, however for some acne can be a life long struggle. For others, acne can go away for a decade or two, but come back later in life. This commonly happens to women after childbirth or during peri-menopause. The cause is still the same as with teenagers…hormones! If your hormones become imbalanced, due to childbirth, birth control pills, toxins, or other factors, you can have an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone ratio. However, unlike your teenage years, this condition will not go away as you get older, in fact it may get worse.
What Can You Do About Adult Acne?
Adult acne can be one of many signs of hormonal imbalance. A treatment plan that can include bio-identical hormone replacement therapy can in most cases eliminate the unwanted acne as well as the other common symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as weight gain, anxiety, fatigue, bloating, irritability, & low libido.