Acne is experienced by a majority of teenagers. It is estimated that 85% of teens will have acne at some point during their adolescent years. Despite the large numbers of teens with similar acne conditions, it still affects their social life and self esteem. In severe cases, leaving the individual with physical and emotional scars that can last a life time. The naturopathic doctors at the Nardella Clinic have extensive experience with treating teenage acne.
‘Teenage pimples’ were known to show up in the mid teens. Presently, with the earlier onset of puberty, we see children as young as nine with this skin condition. Acne can last up to 25 years old. However, it can be a life long struggle. The majority of people with teen acne will have it clear up and not have issues with it again. However, due to the potential life long effects of teen acne, it is important to treat it and get it under control before the damage is done.
There are two acne types—inflammatory and non-inflammatory.
Each type of acne is graded. Often, non-inflammatory acne is not recognized as a problem. This is because the lesions are not ‘inflamed’. It encompasses grades 1 and 2 and involves mostly blackheads and white heads. Oil and dead skin cells build up and mix in the follicle and cement together. This completely blocks it. The blockages that are open to the air turn black due to oxidation and become a blackhead. The blockages that are covered by skin remain white and look like a little bump under the skin. This is a whitehead. This type of acne does not usually result in permanent physical damage to the skin unless tampered with (squeezing and picking). However, it does tend to have some impact on self-esteem.
Inflammatory acne is comprised of grades 3 and 4. These are the most damaging. Grade 3 acne (acne vulgaris) is the most commonly recognized type due to the prevalence of pustules. A pustule is made up of the same dead skin cells and oil as the black heads and white heads in non-inflammatory acne. The difference between them is the addition of bacteria that causes inflammation. The inflammation in turn results in an abundance of white blood cells (pus) to fight off the bacteria. This type of lesion can leave scarring.
Grade 4 is the most severe and damaging. It is known as nodulocystic acne. This type of acne has lesions that rupture out into many follicles forming large and often painful lumps in the skin. Some of these lumps stay as a hard ball known as a nodule and others become fluid filled and inflamed – a cyst. These types of lesions leave deep physical and emotional scarring.
There are many aggravating factors involved in teen acne. Genetics also plays a large role. It is estimated that if both parents had teen acne, 50% of the offspring will get it. If one parent had teen acne, then 20% are expected to develop it. Some of the main aggravating factors of acne that affect the teen group are:
- Hormones – higher amounts of androgens in the body during adolescence stimulate and help set conditions for acne to develop.
- Diet – poor diets help create an pro-inflammatory environment that makes the acne worse than it otherwise would be.
- Stress – this is an important consideration for young people. The immediate and long-term consequences of not properly managing stress result from the inflammation that it causes in the body and hormonal disregulation.
- Sunshine – It is believed that tanning helps acne because the skin appears to clear up after some sun. The increased vitamin d certainly does help with the skin; however, it stimulates cell proliferation and sometimes oil production. Both of these things are involved in forming an acne lesion. It often takes several months to build up that acne environment, so the summer sun may give short term relief. However, be prepared for the worse in the fall.
Early intervention is extremely important with acne – especially with the inflammatory types. Naturopathic medicine focuses on finding the underlying cause of the inflammation. Finding an individual’s source of inflammation and helping to remedy the problem is recommended. There are always a few factors at play at any one time. A good homecare regime involving high grade, active ingredients and botanicals is imperative. Also, regular skin treatments with an experienced and sympathetic professional keep things on track. A balancing of the skins oil and moisture is very important for the teen with acne. The faster the condition is taken under control, the less long-term effects there will be to deal with. Contact the clinic to discuss your options with one of our qualified experienced naturopathic doctors.