All about acne

By: Lauren Harper

There are many products one can use to help with acne prevention, including Proactiv. Photo courtesy of Google images

As teenagers, many students at Fort Mill High School can share one commonality: having acne. Whether it’s only a zit or two or severe acne, almost everyone has had to deal with this nuisance at one point or another in his/her life.

            Teens are notorious for having the worst acne out of all age groups, and this is due mostly to an increase in the amount of sebum (oils) and hormonal changes that occur during these years. When there is an excess of sebum and dead skin cells, bacteria like Propionibacterium acnes get caught inside of the pores and produce swelling and redness. The most common occurrence of acne, the “whitehead,” occurs when hair follicles are clogged with oil and skin cells. Likewise, when this hair follicle is plugged near the surface of the skin and it reacts with air, a “blackhead” is created. Both boys and girls get acne, but there is a greater chance of severe acne in boys because they possess more skin oils. People with a history of acne in their parents also have a higher risk of developing the condition.

            Though many people to do not realize it, acne is not caused by eating certain foods like chocolate, pizza, soda, or stress. These things can possibly worsen acne because stress increases the levels of sebum in the face, but they are not main causes of acne. The most common type of acne is called acne vulgaris, which includes outbreaks primarily on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest. This form can be treated with over-the-counter systems that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which dry up oil, kill bacteria, and cause dead skin cells to fall off. Some of the most common acne fighters are Proactiv, Neutrogena, and Clinique, which can come in a variety of forms like gels, soaps and creams. The more severe form of acne is called severe cystic acne. This type of acne can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor and if that is not effective, then drugs like Isotretinoin are recommended to treat acne in pill form over a span of fifteen to twenty weeks.

            A bi-daily routine of washing your face with a mild soap and warm water is recommended to prevent acne, and when drying off one’s face, do not scrub too hard with the washcloth because this can increase irritation. For girls who wear makeup, be sure to use products that are labeled “oil free,” “noncomedogenic,” or “nonacnegenic” to ensure that you are not using anything that will clog the pores. Proper removal of makeup is also important. Hair spray, gels, and even long hair can also all contribute to acne, so be sure to keep all of these products out of the face.

            There are many things that one can do to both prevent and help acne these days, and dermatologists are becoming better than ever at treating it and its causes. Acne is something that almost everyone will have had to deal with at some point in their lives, so don’t stress out too much over those few zits that may be lingering on the forehead or nose, because, chances are, your best friend and crush have them too.


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