Teen acne is very common, and can be attributed to hormonal changes. However, it can sometimes also be a symptom of PCOS. For teens suffering acne, keeping your skin clean, avoiding fried food and too much sugar, and a visit to the gynaecologist if you have irregular periods is highly recommended.
No matter what the world may think, being young is tough. Especially in the age of social media, an overwhelming amount of attention is on how we look. There is also an enormous amount of pressure especially on young girls to look a certain way. This can be especially difficult for teens who are dealing with acne. While acne in teens is not completely abnormal, it can be tough on their mental health as well. Here we talk about why teens get acne, is it just from hormonal changes, or can it be symptom of an underlying condition like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
A 2016 study conducted on Indian patients aged 15 years and above says that there is also a significant impact of acne on emotions, social activities, study, work, and interpersonal relationships. Another study says that acne impacts more than 85% of adolescents and young adults and deeply impacts their quality of life.
Femoai spoke to dermatologist Dr. Dhrubojyoti Sengupta about acne in Indian teens, its causes, and whether it’s okay to wear makeup when you are breaking out. Edited excerpts from the interview:
What causes acne in teens?
When you grow from adolescence to adulthood, there are certain hormonal changes in the body. Our body produces growth hormones which help us grow taller and bigger, and sex hormones, which help us develop secondary sexual characteristics, like a moustache in males. There are two kinds of sex hormones: androgens and estrogen. Males have more androgen and females have more estrogen. But every woman also has androgen and every man also has estrogen. Androgen is responsible for acne. Increased sebaceous secretion is because of more circulating androgen level in the blood. Sebaceous glands, which are attached to hair follicles, are the target organs of the androgens.
Increased androgen level in the blood gives rise to increased sebum production (sebum is an oily substance that is produced by sebaceous glands). It’s there in everyone but those with oily skin and a high hormone level have more oily secretion.
The reason that you get pustules (red, tender bumps with white pus on the tip) is that on your skin you have bacteria, which are usually non-pathogenic, which means they don’t create any problems. But with an increase in sebaceous secretion, those harmless bacteria become purulent (containing pus) and they produce pustules.
We recommend antibiotics and other oral preparations like tretinoins for acne. Those with not-so oily skin and a normal level of hormones, they don’t get acne which has to be treated. This is how acne appears: first there will be comedones, a slight elevation on the surface of the skin, then you see a white tip, which turns black because of atmospheric oxygen. And then pustules appear, which shouldn’t be picked.
What are the foods teens should avoid to fight acne?
Too much fried food should be avoided. The stomach should be clear, so we ask people to drink a lot of water.
(Foods like sweet potato, green leafy vegetables, carrots, apricots, lime, tomato, spinach, beans, peas, lentils, salmon, mackerel, and other kinds of fatty fish, and avocado are good for the skin)
Can acne be indicative of other health issues in teen girls?
If there is an associated period problem (irregular periods) with acne, then one should see a gynaecologist. Sometimes too much acne is associated with hirsutism or hypertrichosis (hairiness) and Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD). Hirsutism can be treated symptomatically using a laser, but you should always go to a good trichologist. However, we should remember that lasers are not a magic cure. Electrolysis is also an option.
If there is an associated period problem (irregular periods) with acne, then one should see a gynaecologist. Sometimes too much acne is associated with hirsutism or hypertrichosis (hairiness) and Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD)
How to manage acne in summer?
In summer, sweating can aggravate the acne because the oily sebum gets dissolved in the sweat and it aggravates and complicates the problem. So, frequent washing of the face, especially when you come from outside is important.
Secondly, you should not pick on acne with your nails. Teens are self conscious, so they try to pick their acne but it shouldn’t be done. Sometimes the problem is complicated by the patient themselves, especially when they are over conscious, it is called acne excoriata (self-induced lesions on the face).
Is it okay for teen girls to use makeup to hide acne?
Too much makeup on oily skin is not good, light makeup is fine. Heavy makeup can clog your sweat pores and can aggravate the problem. If you are going to a party or an event, you can use some makeup but wash it off as soon as you are back. If you are at a party or dancing, you can sweat under your makeup, and aggravate your acne as the sweat glands are blocked. You can keep a wet tissue in the evenings to keep your face clean, and dry tissue if you are out in the sun during the day to keep your face sweat-free. And, always remember that your skin has to be treated gently.
- Acne Vulgaris and Quality of Life Among Young Adults in South India-Priya Cinna T Durai and Dhanya G Nair
- The psychosocial impact of acne vulgaris-Neirita Hazarika, M Archana
Dr. Dhrubojyoti Sengupta
Ph: 120-2759515; +91-9899221991
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