Vol.1, No.8

What causes acne in teenagers?

The three predominant causes of acne in teenagers are hormonal changes, heredity, and plugged oil ducts.

Teenager getting acne
Photo Credit: Jaimie D. Travis
Acne is a skin condition that affects more than ninety percent of all teens, so it's no wonder that there are so many products on the market promising to zap zits! While a few pimples here and there aren't anything to fret over, teenagers with severe acne breakouts can suffer immensely. They are often made fun of by their peers and they feel ostracized and embarrassed. Acne can really take a toll on a teenager's self-esteem. While there are a plethora of myths regarding the causes of acne, there are actually three principal causes: hormones, heredity, and plugged oil ducts. There are also several behaviors that can make existing acne worse and can cause even more breakouts.

As the expression goes, teenagers have raging hormones. In fact, these hormones are called androgens, and they increase for boys and girls during puberty. Androgen hormones cause oil ducts on the face, back, neck, and upper chest to start producing oil, and sometimes there is too much oil, and the result is acne. The sad reality is that these hormone levels vary from one teenager to another, and some unlikely kids just have to wait it out until their hormones stabilize. Girls often have hormonal fluctuations during menstruation, and many girls will break out during their "time of the month" even if they do not regularly get many pimples.

Heredity affects us in so many ways - our looks, our smarts, our flaws and imperfections. Acne is no exception. While it is not a sure thing that a person will have acne if their parents had it, the likelihood of getting acne is much higher for individuals in that situation, or even individuals with just one parent that suffered with acne. If parents who had severe acne as teenagers notice the problem developing for their child, they should use their foresight to their teenager's advantage and seek dermatological assistance early on.

There's nothing that can be done to stop hormonal changes during puberty, and there's definitely nothing that can be done to change someone's hereditary misfortune, but there are ways to combat the plugged oil ducts that trigger acne breakouts. There are several over the counter acne treatments that can reduce oiliness. Products on the market that contain Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic Acid, Sulfur, or Resorcinol are all helpful at fighting acne and minimizing plugged oil ducts. For severe acne conditions, a dermatologist can prescribe a stronger medication. Prescription medications used to treat acne contain such ingredients as Adapalene, Azelaic Acid, Clindamycin, Isotretinoin, and Erythromycin.

Contrary to popular belief, acne is not brought on by the types of foods you eat. Myths say that chocolate, greasy foods and sodas trigger breakouts, but there is no evidence to support such claims and many experts have discredited this myth through careful studies. It is also untrue that acne is the result of poor hygiene. Even teenagers who diligently wash their faces twice a day can get acne due to hereditary and hormonal changes. Individuals who are experiencing an acne breakout should be sure not to aggravate their condition by popping or pinching their pimples. They should also avoid over-washing and over-treating their condition. Girls should make sure to remove their makeup every night before going to bed, and all teenagers should be sure to sleep on a clean pillow and pillowcase. Also, always wash your face after exercising or engaging in sporting activities because sweat can lead to increased breakouts.