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Acne in Teenagers

By: Jody Ehrhardt - Updated: 22 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Acne Vulgaris Acne Blemishes Blackheads

Acne vulgaris is the most common type of acne developed by teenagers. In fact the name acne vulgaris actually means acne of the common type. While this skin condition is unpleasant, and sometimes hard to cure completely it can be treated and controlled with the proper information and medication.

What is Acne Vulgaris

Acne vulgaris is a skin condition that results in blemishes on the face, neck, shoulders, and back. These blemishes, also called blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and zits, occur when the pores of the skin become clogged and inflamed. Each pore represents a pathway to a hair follicle that also contains an oil gland. These glands produce oil that helps lubricate the skin. However, when too much oil is produced it can trap dirt and bacteria inside the pore and cause inflammation, or acne. Although excessive oil production is the main culprit behind acne development, the actual cause of the increased oil production comes in many forms.

The Causes of Acne Vulgaris

Acne occurs anytime the pores of the skin are clogged or blocked. This blockage occurs more often in teenagers due to the hormonal changes caused by puberty. When hormone levels rise and fall they can affect the oil production of glands in the skin and cause them to become too productive.

The use of hair products and cosmetics that contain oil can also cause acne in teenagers. When these greasy products come into contact with the skin they can block the pores in the same manner as naturally produced oil. Acne is even more likely to occur once the oil from the product mixes with oil already present on the skin.

Finally, poor skincare habits can lead to the development of acne in teenagers. When dirt, grime, oil, and bacteria are allowed to build up on the skin acne is more likely to develop. This build up is a result of infrequent facial cleansing or the use of the wrong cleansing products.

Although you cannot eliminate the development of over-active oil glands, you can take steps to control and treat acne vulgaris.

At Home Prevention and Skincare

Since the idea that you can skip certain foods, like greasy pizza or sugary colas, in order to avoid acne simply does not hold true, your only option in the prevention and treatment of acne vulgaris is better skin care.

Start taking care of your skin by choosing the proper cleanser and using it at least twice a day. A good cleanser is one that does not contain alcohol or other drying agents, oil or other greasy ingredients, and one that is non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) and hypoallergenic (formulated for sensitive skin). As for proper washing, make sure that you wash your face when you first get up in the morning to clean away excess oil that was produced overnight, and again before you go to bed at night to remove any dirt that settled on your skin throughout the day. Although it is best to avoid excessive cleansing (as this can causes increased irritation and inflammation) you may need to wash your face more often especially after exercising or sweating profusely. After washing it is important to apply a moisturiser even if you suffer from oily skin. For the best results in acne treatment choose a moisturiser that is oil free.

In order to keep your skin dirt and oil free you also need to wash your hair frequently. This is especially important if you have long hair or hair that can come into contact with your face or shoulders. To help eliminate hair to skin contact you can also use a rubber band to pull your hair back away from your face.

The final step in ensuring clean skin is avoiding contact between your hands, fingers and face. When your hands touch your face they leave behind dirt, germs, bacteria, oil, and other harmful substances that can lead to the development of acne vulgaris. If you must touch your face (to apply make-up, scratch an itch, or wipe away sweat) make sure that you wash your hands completely before making contact.

If you follow all of the above suggestions and still develop acne outbreaks you can also apply an over-the-counter acne medication to your skin during your cleansing routine. Topical acne medications that contain benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or sulfur can help dry up blemishes, kill the bacteria that causes acne, and reduce oil production. If good skincare techniques and over-the-counter medications do not help control or eliminate your acne it may be time to see a dermatologist or doctor for help.

Seeing Your Doctor for Help

Doctors and dermatologists have many options to offer when it comes to the treatment of acne vulgaris in teenagers. For milder cases a doctor may prescribe a topical medication that contains benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, or sulfur in stronger prescription strengths. For more severe or hard to treat acne cases he may prescribe a topical antibiotic like erythromycin, or a retinoic acid cream that contains a synthetic vitamin A derivative.

If more aggressive treatment is needed the doctor may also prescribe an oral antibiotic to help kill and bacteria or infection that can be causing the acne or making the condition worse. Or, if the teenage acne patient is female, the doctor may prescribe birth control pills to help balance hormone levels and decrease oil gland production.

No matter which treatment your doctor prescribes it is important that you follow his directions exactly, that you never skip a dose or treatment, and that you continue using good skincare habits while you are undergoing treatment. Although acne will eventually disappear as hormone levels stabilise you can make your teen years more enjoyable by following a simple routine aimed at acne control and prevention.

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