Teenage acne and how to cope
10th September 2012
teenage acneTeenage acne is so prominent to the extent that many will often discard it as simply being a ‘normal’ trivial problem and something not worth a second consideration in comparison to more serious health conditions. It can be especially easier for adults and teens blessed with smooth skin to not empathise with those who are suffering with acne and many of whom face a daily battle with the condition. According to the UK charity ‘The Acne Support Group’, approximately 85% of all teenagers will suffer some degree of acne and this highlights how widespread the problem of teenage acne is. Starting to break-out in spots during your high school years cannot come at a worse time. With the media scrutinising the appearance of celebrities, there is an increasing pressure on kids to grow-up much earlier than previous years and to look their best. Between the ages of 10 and 18 is a critical time in human development and having spotty skin to deal with as well just adds to other dilemmas. In addition, the teenage period of life is usually the time when boys and girls typically begin to catch the eye of the opposite sex and form ‘cliques’ of close friends. A flare-up of red blemished skin is the last thing school kids will want in their battle for popularity with their peers. However, the problems lie much deeper than this though and many teenagers who suffer with acne are also suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. The emotional impact that living with the condition can have on their lives is sometimes massively underestimated and many are also facing daily torment in the hands of ruthless bullies with no regards to the anguish they are adding to. The daily torment of trying to cope with acne can severely impact a teenager’s social development to the extent they struggle to interact with others and do not wish to go out with friends and do normal activities any other teenager would do. The problem can put such a dampener on certain sufferers that it prevents them from engaging in any physical activity such as sports so they don’t have to reveal any more of their skin. This is a situation that needs to be reversed though as exercise helps to improve mood and is beneficial for good overall health too. So what are the causes for teenage acne, and what can be done about it? To some extent diet is a cause as high carbohydrate diets that many teenagers have including biscuits and chocolate, have been shown to be linked to some forms of acne. Surprisingly, a 2004 Norwegian study found no direct correlation between acne and teenager’s consumption of alcohol or cigarette smoking. Instead, this particular study found connections between the level of stress a teen had, and the amount of acne they were experiencing. In the study it was found that 19% of all kids who were discovered to have symptoms of anxiety and depression said they had acne. This was in comparison to just 12% of those who reported no such problems. It could be a vicious cycle that is the root for a lot of teens. A breakout of spots can cause unneeded stress at such an important stage of their life and this can spiral into severe depression and low self-esteem. If their mood is at rock-bottom then there is a chance of them becoming reclusive and as so many people of all ages do, turn to junk food as the solution. It is not uncommon for many of us to seek solace in fatty and sugary food in times of desperation. Another factor that could be making the acne worse in regards to stress is that it may stimulate the growth of nerve fibres near the sebaceous glands. This subsequently promotes a higher rate in the creation of sebum; the fatty substance that works together with cell debris and dead skin cells to form the dreaded blackheads. For parents of a child who has to deal with acne, more should be done to try and help them cope with the issue in order for their son or daughter to lead a perfectly normal, happy school and social life. Some parents could turn a blind-eye to their child’s acne and assume it is just ‘part and parcel’ of adolescence and the growing up process. This is the wrong attitude to adopt though for a number of reasons. For instance, failure to properly treat acne at the earliest stage can result in permanent physical scarring later in life. The psychological damage this will cause could be catastrophic and affect the sufferer throughout their entire adult life too. The message is clear that you should never wait until the acne is serious; when spots first start to arise then take your child to see a dermatologist and seek the best treatment and advice of which products may help. It can be a difficult process for parents when trying to boost the confidence on their child, but sitting them down for a heart-to-heart talk when spots first start to surface would be advisable. Don’t be afraid to bring up the subject of spots with your child and don’t wait for them to ask for help as sometimes he/she may simply refuse to ask for help due to embarrassment. Be understanding and show plenty of empathy. What you may think of as a few spots, may be a seriously confidence-denting and demoralising thing for a teenager. One of the most important things you should stress to your child though is that they are not alone in their struggles with spots and make them realise they are no ‘different’ to anyone else. Let your child know that there are many other teens just like them who are going through a similar thing. All of this will hopefully help to reduce stress-levels for your child and equip them with more confidence to let them live a life where they feel free to fulfil all their ambitions without being held back by acne.