Acne is frustrating and painful, especially for teens heading back to school. It’s particularly difficult as acne impacts not only their self confidence, but also their social lives. Due to their fluctuating hormones, pre-teens and teens usually complain of oily and shiny skin accompanied by breakouts or ‘zits.’ Subsequently, the teens turn to harsh products, drying the sebum glands, which forces the glands to produce more oil; this becomes a vicious cycle of clogging pores and creating more blemishes. So… how do you break the cycle?
Patience and consistency will help teens and adults alike achieve a clear complexion. Parents should encourage their teens with proper skin hygiene and have their skin assessed by a skincare professional. The following is a Q&A with the background on acne and the expert advice necessary to help teens achieve clear, healthy skin.
What is acne?
Acne (acne vulgaris) is a condition of the hair follicle or pore. It commonly appears on the face, chest and back of most teenagers during puberty. It appears on the skin as a blackhead or whitehead, inflamed red bumps and occasionally pustules.
What causes acne?
Acne occurs when elevated levels of male hormone stimulate the sebaceous gland, causing it to overproduce sebum, or oil. This, associated with dead skin cells, causes clogged pores and as the pores enlarge, it produces an inflammation. The inflammation allows bacteria to grow and creates blemish or a zit. Hormone changes due to stress or change in birth control can also promote acne.
How can acne be treated?
The combination of medical acne treatments and the proper skincare regimen are essential to treating acne.
Preferred Acne Treatments:
- Salicylic-based chemical peels,
- Frequent extractions, with the use of enzymes and steam,
- Laser treatments, including Isolaz – a good choice as a deep pore cleanser.
Products and a good at home skincare regimen are also essential in treating acne. It is important to use products as a system, as outlined below.
- Use a salicylic or glycolic acid based cleanser.
- Use a “treatment product” – one product that targets the acne, containing a solution of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid for exfoliation, to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria; the exfoliation and the oxygen from the benzoyl peroxide will help kill the acne causing bacteria (or P. acne).
- Use a lightweight moisturizer or serum for hydration, containing antioxidants and calming agents.
- Use a matte sunscreen (to reduce shine) with physical blockers to protect the sensitized skin against harmful UV rays and to prevent dark spots, or hyperpigmentation and acne scars from forming.
- Don’t shy away from hiding those unwanted bumps! With a medical grade makeup or an OTC concealer that contains Witch Hazel and tea tree oil that will help conceal and reduce inflammation as well.
We recommend the IMAGE Skincare Clear Cell line, for its effectiveness and affordability. The line can be found at Medi-Aesthetique medical spa in McLean, VA. This line is available exclusively from licensed providers in a medical setting.
What can you expect from treating acne with products?
When treating acne with products, you may experience dryness, flakiness and light redness; these reactions tell us the skin is well exfoliated and we’re working at a deeper level to allow oxygen to enter the skin, which is essential in killing acne bacteria.
What is the best way to conceal blemishes?
There are many professional products such as Disappear, a concealer by Jane Iredale that contains green tea extract and other antioxidants that will combat acne bacteria while giving you coverage.
Jane Iredale Pure Pressed powders are another great way of concealing and healing. With a high concentration of the powerful anti-inflammatory agent zinc, these powders will eliminate redness and calm the skin. As an added benefit, the powders contain 20 SPF, which will protect the sensitive acneic skin.
It is important to note, however, that many makeup products contain talc and chemical additives (preservatives and dyes, which are irritating); they also may be comedogenic and clog pores, further aggravating acne. However, the Jane Iredale makeup line is a true mineral line, which means the products are anti-microbial (and will not promote acne causing bacteria production) as well as anti-inflammatory, which will help ease the current acne breakouts. The Jane Iredale mineral makeup line can be found at medical spa, Medi-Aesthetique, in McLean, VA.
How can you stay acne free?
To stay acne free, you must continue with your skincare routine, even after your acne has cleared. Just taper back the medicated acne lotion or the tonic by using them a few times a week. And again, your skincare professional will be there to assist you with your questions or concerns.
Another way to stay acne free and prevent breakouts is to get regular acne facials or acne treatments to keep your skin looking fresh and healthy. Remember, exfoliation is the key to have those active ingredients that are delivered to the skin, need to penetrate and kill the bacteria. Exfoliation will allow the products to work.
If you would like to treat your teen or adult acne, please don’t hesitate to request a complimentary acne skincare consultation to get your skin on track to being clear and healthy.
To view a live TV news segment with the author of this article on fighting acne, click here.