7 Simple Ways To Treat Teenage Acne At Home

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

7 Simple Ways To Treat Teenage Acne At Home

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.

What is acne?

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.

Effects of acne on your teen

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:

  • Lead to low self-esteem and image issues.
  • Result in low academic performance.
  • Compel your teen to stay indoors all day and avoid socialising
  • Interfere with the quality of life.

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. 

Causes of acne

The primary cause of acne, is the overproduction of oil in the skin. However, there are other causes as well.

  • Hormone fluctuations or imbalances. This is normally seen in teenage girls experiencing irregular periods, early menopause and other hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
  • Bacteria.
  • A poor diet rich in oily and processed foods, sugar and unhealthy fats also leads to the outbreak of acne.
  • Stress and other related mental problems like depression can also lead to acne.
  • Use of certain medications like birth control pills.

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. 

7 ways to deal with teenage acne at home

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."

  1. Use steam: An ideal way of treating teenage acne at home is using steam. It softens the skin, helps the pores to open and, in the process, gets rid of oils and toxins. To do this, bring water to a boil in a small container, and ask your teen to steam her face with a towel over her head. Let her sit in this position for some time, remove the towel and gently wipe her face with a towel.
  2. Use a toner: A toner is an extremely useful product in fighting breakouts and controlling excess oil production of your skin. After your teen has used steam, let her wash it and apply a toner. It helps remove any remaining impurities and unclogs the pores. Your teen can use apple cider vinegar to tone the skin in the morning and in the evening.
  3. Drink lots of water: We all know that our body is 70 per cent water. Water serves many important functions in our body. Tell your teen to drink water at regular intervals throughout the day. Not only will the water help your child stay hydrated, it will also help flush out toxins from his body. This will make the skin clear and bright. 
  4. Detox the body: Another way for teens to avoid acne is to stay away from processed and junk food. These contain large amounts of artificial colours and flavours. Plus, they are low in nutrition. They are also loaded with sugar and salt. All these factors may add up to promote the build-up of toxins in the body, resulting in the outbreak of acne.
  5. Follow a healthy and balanced diet: You are what you eat, literally! The health of your teen's skin depends a lot on the type of food he eats. A diet that consists of oily and spicy food will increase the chances of pimples breaking out. Encourage your teen  he best thing to do is eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Include lots of oranges, milk, vegetables such as apricots, carrots and sweet potatoes; fish such as salmon, and nuts.
  6. Use holy basil to fight bacteria: According to a report published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences, holy basil can be used to effectively fight acne caused by bacteria. Holy basil oil tea helps regulate blood sugar and hormone levels, which, in turn, helps fight acne in a natural way from the inside out.
  7. Take probiotics: Fighting acne requires internal treatment apart from medications and topical creams. A healthy digestive system is essential to prevent acne. This is where probiotics come into play. Probiotics are good for a healthy gut and provide benefit to your teen's skin. According to a study published in Dermatology Online Journal, probiotic food supplements are a safe acne treatment.
"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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