Hormones Play a Role
“The relationship between acne and hormones is complex,” explains Dr. Michael S. Spicer, a Dermatologist and Dermatopathologist who runs a Florida-based practice. “We do know that hormones such as androgen, progesterone and testosterone make acne worse. Sometimes it’s not how high the levels are but how sensitive the receptors are to the hormones.
“Pre-teens have huge spikes in hormones and with that comes stressors on the body,” he said.
“Between the hormone fluctuations and the stressors on the body it is not unusual to have some form of acne during that time.”
All in the Family
According to the National Institutes of Health, clinical analysis reveals that acne appears to run in families, “however, very few studies have investigated the genetic basis of this very common skin disease.”
Dr. Spicer explains: “Definitely (genetic influence exists), though it is not guaranteed that a parent with severe cystic acne will have a child with severe acne. Unfortunately, a patient with severe acne usually has a first degree relative like an aunt or uncle with severe acne.”
The ginormous pimple on your face and a big date...coincidence?
Likely not. Studies show there is a correlation between emotional stress and acne production.
A 2003 Stanford University study found college students had increased acne problems during heavy exams.
“Stress will make acne worse,” Dr. Spicer explained. “We have discussed natural hormonal changes but stress, by itself, can cause similar hormonal changes,” he said. Stress can negatively affect the immune system, causing a flare of more pimples that are redder and more inflamed than usual.
This is a bummer because the unwanted appearance of acne can cause one to be emotionally stressed. It can be a Catch-22. What helps: finding ways to relax, playing sports, exercise, meditation, reading a good book - all can take a load off your mind, experts say.
What you put on your face - pore clogging lotions and makeups, like petroleum-based products are the most likely to clog pores. Dr. Spicer recommends using facial skin care products that are petrolatum free and mineral based makeup that tends to be oil free.
Lay Off the Face
Things that have constant contact with skin, like hair, bike helmets, backpacks and clothing, should be considered irritants that aggravate oily skin conditions. If you’re seeing a breakout at the line where your baseball cap rests, that’s likely the reason. Keep it away from your face and skin.
While it’s no secret most teens generally have fast food diets, Dr. Spicer said there are no foods that are directly related to causing acne. However, there is research to suggest proinflammatory foods like dairy can make acne worse.
Skin care is extremely important when it comes to treating acne. Dr. Spicer recommends a maintenance regimen for skincare to control and prevent flares. Follow closely the instructions from your dermatologist and/or skincare professional.
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