Does your teenager dread the appearance of pimples on her face? Acne can have a physical and psychological impact on teens. Here are some simple ways to treat this condition at home.
By Ashwin Dewan
Teenage can be an exciting period for youngsters and a challenging one too. There are so many changes to cope with -- their body, the surge in hormones, peer pressure, identity crisis and so on. Another challenge they have to cope with during their growing up years, is acne. In fact, puberty and acne seem to go hand in hand. However, it should not be taken lightly. For, those red bumps on your teen’s face might just leave a scar for life and have an adverse effect on her self-esteem.
Acne is a skin outbreak that appears in the form of red bumps. It is caused by the overproduction of oil and a substance called sebum in the skin, which along with dead skin, clog the pores. This results in skin problems like pimples (an inflamed red pore that contains pus), whiteheads (when the pore is clogged and bulges out), cysts (large and painful bumps), and blackheads (when the pore is clogged and the exposure to the air makes the top blackish). Although acne can affect anyone, it is prominent during the teenage years.
Note: Acne is not restricted to the face alone. Although many eruptions occur in the face, acne can cause outbreaks on the back, the chest, and even the arms.
Acne is primarily a skin condition and can damage your teen’s skin. But, it can also have a negative effect on your teen’s psyche. Acne can:
According to a review published in the Archives of Dermatological Research, irregular sleep hours and stress is linked to adult female acne.
"Often, people say acne is normal. This is incorrect because acne is a sign of an underlying hormonal problem like cysts in the ovaries. It could also point to an unhealthy lifestyle, which can be corrected with the right diet and fitness measures," says Dr Anil Abraham.
According to a survey of New Zealand secondary school students, published in 2006, acne can lead to anxiety and depression in teenagers.
The primary cause of acne, is the overproduction of oil in the skin. However, there are other causes as well.
What can be done?
You can always take your teen to a dermatologist, who may suggest acne lotions or creams to control the problem. However, you can tackle this skin condition at home using just simple methods, which are effective and inexpensive.
Dr Anil Abraham says, "Home remedies for acne are of three types: Evidence-based, eminence-based, and eloquence-based. Evidence-based is decided by research. For e.g. steaming plays an important role in removing blackheads as this process opens up the pores of the oil-secreting sebaceous glands. The focus should be on using evidence-based methods to tackle the problem."
"Eat sensibly, cut down on high glycemic food that contain a lot of sugar. Avoid smoking and get regular exercise," says Dr Anil Abraham.
As parents, remember that acne is a common skin condition in teens and can worsen if left untreated. Emphathise with your teen and give him your support, as acne can often lead to insecurity among teens regarding their image in the society and among their colleagues.
Guide your teenager on the subject. Medicines might not entirely help. It also requires patience, a healthy balanced diet, adequate water intake and proper skin care to tackle this problem.
*Dr Anil Abraham is Professor and HOD, Department of Dermatology, St John's Medical College and Hospital.
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