BACK TO SCHOOL WITH CLEAR SKIN
Some of us (who are VERY mature adults) still get the occasional pimple. We can deal with it. For those who are pre-teens or teens however, it may seem like the end of the world. What teenager wants to return to school with a pimple outbreak? None. We’re here to give you the latest and greatest acne information so your young family members can go back to school with confidence.
ALL ABOUT ACNE
If your teenager has acne, he or she is not alone. According to the Mayo Clinic, anywhere from 70-87% of teenagers have acne. Your teen may feel alone, but he or she is not.
Acne primarily occurs on the face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. It’s a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne can range from mild and merely irritating (whiteheads, blackheads, small red, tender bumps called papules or bigger bumps called pimples) to very serious and scarring (nodules and cystic legions).
ACNE IS A RESULT OF A SERIES OF CONDITIONS. IT’S COMMON SENSE TO SEE HOW THESE CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE AN ACNE OUTBREAK.
• Oil production (common in young people)
• Dead skin cells (occurring normally)
• Clogged pores (a combination of the oil
production and dead skin cells)
• Bacteria (on opportunistic microbe)
YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF A FEW MYTHS ABOUT ACNE. ACCORDING TO MAYO CLINIC, ACNE IS NOT CAUSED BY:
• Greasy foods
• Dirty skin
BASIC HOME TREATMENT
There are a number of ways to fight acne on your own, before going to a dermatologist or other physician. Everyone is different, so a remedy that works for one person may not be as effective on another.
You can try:
• Over-the-counter acne products to dry the oil and promote peeling. Look for
ones that have benzoyl peroxide.
• Avoid irritants such as sunscreens, hairstyling products or acne concealers.
• Use an oil-free moisturizer and stay out of the sun as much as possible.
• Be aware of what touches your skin – particularly your face. This can be
your hair, hands, cell phone, hats and other items which can cause dirt or
sweat on your skin.
And don’t pick or squeeze blemishes! You could make it worse and create a scar.
DERMATOLOGIST OR PHYSICIAN TREATMENT
If basic home treatment isn’t working, a dermatologist (skin specialist) can help control acne, avoid scarring or other skin damage or make current scars less noticeable.
Acne medications can be applied to the skin or taken orally. They work the same way and are deigned to:
• Reduce oil production
• Speed up skin cell turnover
• Fight bacterial infection
• Reduce inflammation
The topical skin medications include retinoids to prevent hair follicles from plugging (Avita, Retin-A, Differin, Tazorac, Avage) and antibiotics to kill excess skin bacteria.
There are other ways a dermatologist can treat acne that does not involve oral medication or can be in addition to medication. These include:
• Light therapy
• Chemical peel
• Steroid injection
Each of these can have side effects, so make sure you’ve checked with your primary physician before trying these methods.
As with most medical conditions, there is nearly always new research or new treatments which offer promise. One acne treatment offering hope for acne sufferers is acupuncture.
Acupuncture is an ancient traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting needles into the skin in order to stimulate specific points on the body. These points are commonly referred to as “acupoints.”
For acne patients, the acupoints are stimulated to reduce inflammation. A study of 3,500 patients undergoing this treatment revealed that patients treated with a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine experienced significant improvements in acne.
An additional study conducted at UCLA showed how resveratrol, an antioxidant derived from grapes (and found in wine), works to inhibit growth of the bacteria associated with acne. So if your teenager is reaching for a snack – grab some grapes! Mom or Dad could have the wine.