Cure for teenage acne

The Teenage Years

Many young people experience the beginning of an acne problem when they develop blackheads on their nose. Children as young as 8 have showed up in dermatologists' offices with this condition. It is extremely important to remember that the black "dot" at the center of that blackhead is not dirt, but a combination of melanin and cells that darken when they reach the surface of the skin. A child should never be made to feel "dirty" or "bad" for developing skin problems.

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Approximately 90% of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 will have an acne eruption at some point in their lives. It may be an occasional pimple, or it could be a massive breakout. It may not be limited to the face; lesions may also be found on the neck, chest and back.

Adolescence is a difficult time - perhaps the understatement of the year. Bodies change, hormones surge, and teens must negotiate their way through new social experiences. Add acne to the mix, and the pressures of being a teenager have just skyrocketed.

Raging Hormones

Teenagers are the primary population affected by acne, due to normal hormonal changes. Both growth and sex hormones - which, as their names imply, control physical growth and sexual development - swing into action during the onset of puberty. For adolescent boys, we are talking about testosterone, which is produced in the testes. In girls, the primary hormones are estrogen and progesterone, which are produced in the ovaries. Androgens, the sex hormones discussed in Chapter 5, also cause sebaceous glands to secrete more oil.

Sadly, less than 10% of teenagers who suffer from acne will go to a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. Many will read about home cures or urban legends on the Internet, including the use of toothpaste, dishwashing liquid, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol and even Preparation H to reduce pimples. These products are obviously not designed for acne care. While you may think hydrogen peroxide and alcohol, as disinfecting agents, would reduce bacteria and cleanse the skin, they are too drying and will actually worsen your acne. There are many products on the market - both prescription and over-the-counter - that are specifically designed for acne treatment, so why mess with a product that's designed for washing dishes or shrinking hemorrhoids?

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A Psychological Burden

If you're a teenager suffering from acne, it's tremendously important to talk to your parents about the psychological effects it has on you. Acne is not just about bad skin. In many clinical studies, acne sufferers admit they are depressed - and some have even felt suicidal. That's too high a price to pay for a condition that can be treated effectively by seeking help from a dermatologist. Your parents need to know whether you are feeling anxious, depressed, ashamed, humiliated and/or embarrassed. These feelings will ultimately lead to changes in behavior that will affect your school performance and social life. You may develop body image problems, and you may start to withdraw from friends and social activities. You won't want to go to parties. You won't want to go to football games.

Acne can also cause problems within the family, as your frustrations lead you to act out against your parents. It is especially counterproductive if family members make fun of your breakouts or minimize their effect on you.

Needless to say, acne can turn dating into hell night. There's nothing worse than preparing for a big date and noticing a pimple in the middle of your forehead. You begin to believe that your date will see nothing else - you, the Human Zit - and you may even be tempted to cancel.

As you get older, you will become self-conscious when you go out on job interviews. To make matters worse, some studies have demonstrated that employers may actually discriminate against job applicants who have acne. It's undoubtedly unfair, but it's another sign that our society places a hefty price on clear skin and promotes the stigma. Even Britney Spears was called "Zitney" when she struggled with her acne.

And being stressed out about acne will only cause it to get worse. There is a direct correlation between stress levels and acne flare-ups. In a March 2001 study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology, 10% of teens stated that acne is one of the worst things in their lives. Virtually every teen is obsessed with his or her complexion and disturbed by acne breakouts. Sufferers are convinced that everyone around them is staring at their faces - and we all know that kids can be cruel, inflicting damage with names like "Pizza Face."

The Parent Trap

Parents are also misinformed, believing that teenagers are not practicing proper hygiene. This creates tension and alienation. A cure for teenage acne can be a responsible parent. A responsible parent needs to take his or her teenager to a dermatologist so the problem can be treated properly. Parents must remember that acne is a normal part of adolescence - not an abnormality. Perhaps they are reacting to their own teenage experiences and painful memories. Some parents may even be embarrassed by their teenagers' complexions. A skilled, experienced dermatologist can help both teenager and parent deal with the real issues associated with acne.


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