Table of Contents
- 1 What Exactly is Teenage Acne?
- 2 How is Acne Formed?
- 3 Where do Acne Breakouts Happen?
- 4 How do You Treat Acne Effectively?
- 5 Teenage Acne – Getting the Right Treatment
Combine teenage years with emerging signs of acne, and you could be staring at a potential emergency in the making – raging hormones, oily skin, pimples, emotional and confidence issues. As a youngster, you walked the course, and now, as a parent to teens, you know the importance of helping your teens to navigate the trials and tribulations of teen acne. Fortunately for us, times have changed, and along with a better understanding of the condition, we have access to better acne treatment solutions too!
Adolescent acne is not your problem alone if it is of some comfort to you. It is the most common skin disease among teenagers all over the world. In Singapore, 88% of the adolescent population faces this issue. And if you thought it was a passing phase that’s limited to teens, think again. Even if you haven’t had to face them in your growing-up years, acne can surface any time after that. Up to 20% suffer from acne in adulthood too. If you have the right information and advice to tackle teenage acne, you can prevent it from worsening and developing into depressed acne scarring and persistent brown marks also known as Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH).
What Exactly is Teenage Acne?
Teenage acne is a problem we all face during our growing up years. You can easily recognise the condition by looking at the profusion of pimples, zits, or bumps, primarily on the face. Acne is essentially a medical condition where the patient suffers from breakouts of blackheads, pustules, and cysts. The most common acne triggers are puberty and menstruation.
When puberty sets in during the teenage years, the body starts producing androgens, basically sex hormones. As a result, the production of sebum or oil increases in the face, neck, back, shoulders, and chest. Compared to girls, boys have higher levels of androgen. That’s why acne breakouts are more severe in boys. However, girls usually tend to mature at a relatively younger age. So, they tend to suffer breakouts relatively earlier. Girls usually experience acne flare-ups during their menstrual periods.
Our skin has millions of tiny pores that perform a number of bodily functions – like allowing your skin to secrete sebum and perspire. These pores are also home to a hair follicle and sebaceous glands that delivers sebum or oil to the skin. A type of skin cell called keratinocytes line the insides of the follicle. Normally, the keratinocytes rise to the top when the body sheds skin cells. But in people suffering from acne, the sebum and keratinocytes get stuck within the pore and block it.
Soon enough, the area develops inflammation and later attracts bacteria, resulting in swelling, redness, and pain. If the wall of the plugged follicle gets ruptured or broken, the infection seeps into the adjoining skin tissues. Lesions or pimples form as a result.
Apart from the problem of oily skin and painful pustules, facial scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) are the biggest worries for adolescents suffering from acne. Scars and PIH on the face are unattractive and often lead to a loss of self-confidence in teenagers. Often, scars and PIH remain even after the acne clears up, and needs to be treated.
Other Acne Triggers for Teens
In addition to hormonal activity, lifestyle issues such as unhealthy food habits, sedentary lifestyles, and prolonged stress levels can add to teen acne problems. Research tells us that teenagers experiencing hitgh stress are 23% more likely to suffer more severe acne breakouts. Stress is known to trigger excess oil production in the body, building up to acne breakouts. Teenagers moving to a new school or preparing for examination are typically facing severe stress conditions, making them vulnerable to acne issues.
Unhealthy food habits are also one of the main causes of acne. While teenagers enjoy healthy appetites, they usually binge on unhealthy, fat-laden foods like potato wafers, burgers, and a whole lot of junk foods. All these greasy foods add to the considerable oil being churned out by the body.
Acne conditions often worsen due to the friction caused by your clothes chafe or rubbing away at your skin, basically on your back and chest areas. Similarly, excessive sweating due to physical exercise and exposure to hot, humid climates can make things worse.
Where do Acne Breakouts Happen?
Acne breakouts are most common in body areas with a higher concentration of sebaceous glands. They are usually on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms. The outbreaks comprise several types of lesions and bumps, ranging from blackheads and whiteheads to papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.
While pimples can form anywhere on the body, the area where your nose, chin, and forehead are located is an adolescent acne hotspot. This particularly oily area is collectively known as the T-zone.
How do You Treat Acne Effectively?
In order to effectively target teen acne, we have to look into the three factors that cause acne: overactive sebaceous glands, blocked hair follicles and bacterial growth.
Teenage Acne Treatments
Now that we have identified the three factors that cause teen acne, let’s dive into what acne treatments can treat these issues. We have a wide array of acne treatments available, from controlling acne breakouts to reducing inflammation, pimple marks, and scars. Just as some over-the-counter treatments may work for some users, not all acne treatments will work equally for everyone. If they are not working for you, you can consider prescription topical medications, chemical peels, non-invasive energy-based devices for acne treatments or even oral medication. Speak to an experienced doctor to determine which treatment may be suitable for you.
Prescription topical or oral treatments
Topical acne medications are applied to the affected skin surface as creams and lotions. Generally, these medications have either antibiotics or contain vitamin A derivatives such as retinoids or retinol. The treatment helps to reduce mild acne scarring and clear acne marks (PIH). Antibiotics for oral use are available in pill form and are generally prescribed for treating moderate to severe acne breakouts. Oral antibiotics are used for tackling bacterial infections and reducing inflammation. Similarly, other oral medications such as Isotretinoin help control the production of sebum. In some resistant cases, your doctor will prescribe pills with topical medications.
Medical Grade Chemical Peels for Acne
The treatment is suitable for mild or superficial cases of scarring and PIH. It also helps to reduce pimples. During this exfoliating procedure, chemical peeling agent are applied to the skin surface. The process removes dead skin cells and excess oils from the skin surface. It prevents the blockage of hair follicles and pores.
Non-invasive acne treatments
Teenage acne can often be stubborn. If it does not respond to Over the counter medicines or chemical peels, your doctor would recommend non-invasive treatments such as lasers and radiofrequency procedures. Using energy in a controlled manner, the non-invasive procedures precisely target the treatment area with precision while not damaging the external skin layer. They are non-surgical, and so they don’t need anaesthesia or hospital stay. The best part is that they are effective, safe, and have no downtime.
It is a non-invasive procedure used for treating active acne, mild acne scars, and PIH. Lasers of different types and operating at specific wavelengths are used for treating conditions like superficial scarring, sebum production, and lightening pigmentation. The non-ablative laser devices generate thermal energy that boosts collagen production inside the skin. This in turn, helps to improve the skin’s appearance and texture. Ablative lasers are also used to exfoliate the outer skin layers and speed up the regeneration process. This approach helps clear out the scars and pigmentation caused by acne. Popular lasers include Q-switched nanosecond, picosecond lasers, long-pulsed Nd: YAG , Erbium YAG and yellow laser.
Intense Pulsed Light
This energy-based device uses light of several wavelengths, unlike lasers which emit only one frequency. The light it emits is less focused and more scattered than laser beams. The IPL acne therapy releases light is short bursts that resemble a flashbulb at work. When the light hits the target area, the pigment cells absorb it and become hot. This helps destroy the Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes), the bacteria causing acne, permanently reduce hair follicles, unclog pores and lighten pigmentation.
It is an energy-based modality that delivers RF energy directly to the deeper skin layers with the help of microneedles. The radiofrequency energy repairs the weakened basement cell membranes. This treatment helps control oil production, stimulates new growth of collagen and elastin, and breaks down scar tissue. This results in a significant reduction of acne scars and lightening of PIH after the treatment. One of these RF Microneedling treatments is known as Sylfirm X. This treatment is a Dual Wave RF microneedling is a comprehensive device that can handle multiple skin conditions like scars and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). The procedure is minimally invasive, effective, and safe.
Teenage Acne – Getting the Right Treatment
Teenage acne can vary from person to person. This is because symptoms can differ in terms of the severity, extent of spread, location on the body, and the type of lesions that form on the skin. While milder types of acne are easily treatable, the more severe forms of acne usually call for treatment with prescription medications to address inflammation, bacterial infection, redness, and pus. When it comes to removing skin scarring, there are several non-invasive therapies such as chemical peels and energy-based devices like lasers and RF microneedling devices. Your doctor is the best person to clear your doubts. Book an appointment today and get the complete picture of teen acne and the best ways to tackle it.