Acne and Hormones - Embarrassment and Misery, YES - But Fate and destiny? - OR Can It Be Avoided?
Acne and hormones are synonymous.Â At puberty, as adult sex hormones begin to be produced by, and surge throughout, the body, we very often encounter the second age at which acne rears its ugly head. (Baby or neonatal acne having been the first time acne and hormones were a problem.)
Who doesn't remember the misery of acne? Whether the spots and pimples came one at a time, or by the two-dozen, like fleas on an alley-cat, the effect was always the same - total devastation, anguish and embarrassment. How could you possibly leave the house with a face like that? And "Look at this one; it's like a giant carbuncle."
Teenagers are already entering a place where their confidence and self-image is taking a hammering, the physical changes to their bodies are disconcerting and they are bewildered and perplexed by the strange new feelings they are experiencing. Add acne and hormones to the mix and is there any wonder in it when they fail to achieve a â¬Ëmeeting of minds' with the older generations.
Causes of pimples
With puberty comes the maturation of the sebaceous glands. As these glands produce oils and sebum, the pores or hair follicles can become blocked with dead skin cells and grime. This allows bacteria to grow, causing spots and pimples, resulting in acne.
Figure 1 Diagram of Open and Blocked Pores
The Ages of Acne and Hormones
Acne and hormones are not restricted to the teenage years, though memories of teenagers who were afflicted by pimples and blemishes are strong. It always seemed to be the boys who were affected the most; did shaving play a role in this?
Disruption of hormonal balance occurs at various ages and it is well recognised that women are frequently afflicted by these imbalances. It follows, therefore, that women are more prone to acne than men. Both sexes experience puberty, but women go on to be affected by hormones with every menstrual cycle, with pregnancy and again with the menopause. Often doctors will prescribe a low-dose birth control pill in an attempt to alleviate regular flare-ups of acne.
Figure 2: An Acne Breakout
However, it is at puberty that acne has its most devastating effect. As previously mentioned, acne coming on top of the other momentous changes that are being contended with, can leave the teenager despondent.
Tips for Treating Acne
- Keep Your Hands off Your Face - too difficult; wash your hands regularly
- Wash Your Skin Twice a Day - GENTLY with warm water and mild soap
- Work Up a Sweat - helps pump oil and dead skin cells to the surface
- Loosen Up When Working Out - switch to looser-fitting clothes made of cotton
- Don't Forget to Shower - wash away the oil and dead skin cells brought out by the sweat
- Benzoyl Peroxide - cream/gel, kills the bacteria that causes the inflammation
- Salicylic Acid - causes your skin to shed its outermost layer
- Look to Your Makeup - find a brand that is least troublesome to your acne
- Ask for Antibiotics - reduce existing bacteria and prevent future bacterial growth
- Birth Control Pills - reduces sebum production
- Manage Stress - stress increases sebum production
Still Having Trouble
- Isotretinoin - (Accutane) treats severe acne - has side effects
- Follow the Light - low-intensity light treatment (or heat treatment)
- Sandblast It - if acne leaves you with scars, microdermabrasion can help
- Lasers - not a painless treatment but worth exploring if you are still troubled
Avoiding Another Breakout
Many of the steps above with help in avoiding further breakouts of acne. The most important thing is to keep your skin clean, while avoiding stripping it of essential oils. Use the mildest of cleansers, whether soap or face wash, and be gentle. If your skin starts to become dry, use an oil free moisturiser.
Endeavour to keep your hands away from your face, and, if possible, keep your hair away from your face. Make sure you find time to get some fresh air and exercise and, finally, look to your diet. A diet with ample fresh fruit and vegetables will help to give your skin a healthy glow.