Why Do Teens Get Acne?
Acne is a condition of the skin that shows up as different types of bumps. These bumps can be blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. Teens get acne because of the hormonal changes that come with puberty.
If your parents had acne as teens, it’s more likely that you will, too. The good news is that, for most people, acne goes away almost completely by the time they are out of their teens.
The type of acne that a lot of teens get is called acne vulgaris. It usually shows up on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back, and chest. The hair follicles, or pores, in your skin contain sebaceous glands (also called oil glands). These glands make sebum, oil that lubricates your hair and skin.
Most of the time, the sebaceous glands make the right amount of sebum. As the body begins to mature and develop, though, hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum.
Pores become clogged if there is too much sebum and too many dead skin cells. Bacteria can then get trapped inside the pores and multiply. This causes swelling and redness — the start of acne.
If a pore gets clogged up and closes but bulges out from the skin, you’re left with a whitehead. If a pore gets clogged up but stays open, the top surface can darken and you’re left with a blackhead.
Sometimes the wall of the pore opens, allowing sebum, bacteria, and dead skin cells to make their way under the skin — and you’re left with a small, red bump called a pimple (sometimes pimples have a pus-filled top from the body’s reaction to the bacterial infection).
Clogged pores that open up very deep in the skin can cause nodules, which are infected lumps or cysts that are bigger than pimples and can be painful. Occasionally, large cysts that seem like acne may be boils caused by a staph infection.
Sometimes even though they wash properly and try lotions and oil-free makeup, people get acne anyway — and this is totally normal. In fact, some girls who normally have a handle on their acne may find that it comes out a few days before they get their period. This is called premenstrual acne, and about 7 out of 10 women get it from changes in hormones in the body.
Some teens that have acne can get help from a doctor or dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin problems). A doctor may treat the acne with prescription medicines.
Depending on the person’s acne, this might mean using prescription creams that prevent pimples from forming, taking antibiotics to kill the bacteria that help create pimples, or if the acne is severe, taking stronger medicines such as isotretinoin, or even having minor surgery.
If you look in the mirror and see a pimple, don’t touch it, squeeze it, or pick at it. This might be hard to do — it can be pretty tempting to try to get rid of a pimple.
But when you play around with pimples, you can cause even more inflammation by popping them or opening them up. Plus, the oil from your hands can’t help! More important, though, picking at pimples can leave tiny, permanent scars on your face.