“I Take Care of My Skin, and This Is The Thanks I Get!”

As a teen, there’s enough tough stuff to deal with. Whether it’s studying for a big test, practicing for your varsity game, or rehearsing what to say to your latest crush, there’s plenty of priorities on your plate. Now, don’t get us wrong—your teenage days can be the best…and the absolute worst, at the same time. What an awful paradox, complete with the most notorious rite of passage: teen acne.
Even the most diligent teen who’s determined to keep their skin clear can find themselves battling bumps. In fact, about 85% of adults struggled with teen acne. So that means, most people know what it’s like to endure a a season in our young lives when our own skin is like our worst enemy. It’s as if no matter what you do right, your skin treats you so wrong.

Cleansing your skin day and night, keeping it moisturized, refraining from putting your fingers on your face, and drinking tons of water are all great habits that contribute to healthy skin. However, for some, it still isn’t enough to keep breakouts at bay. Don’t blame or beat yourself up. Your skin’s condition is more than likely out of your control.

Pimples, and Blackheads, and Blisters, Oh No!

The medical terminology for teen acne is Acne Vulgaris. This chronic skin condition is most prevalent during the stage of puberty. At this time, there’s a spike in sex hormones called androgens, subsequently sending oil glands into overdrive. As a result, hair follicles are inflamed and obstructed by excess oil and impurities. All this leads to irritation, causing pimples to form.

Here’s an in-depth breakdown of breakouts; the complete life cycle of a pimple goes as follows:

  1.  First Comes the Comedo
    During puberty, glands become enlarged and produce too much sebum (oil). In other words, your pores get clogged. This results in an overgrowth of bacteria, medically known as cutibacterium acnes. Next thing you know, there’s a comedo, which can be closed or open. A closed comedo is also known as a whitehead, filled with sebum and dead skin cells. An open comedo is when clogged pores remain open and exposed to air, which oxidizes and turns it into a blackhead.
  2. Inflammation Soon Follows
    When the skin is inflamed, it turns to a red, firm bump, most recognizable as the typical pimple.
  3.  Pesky Pustule Formation
    Pustules are when pimples fill with pus, which is a mixture of bacteria, white blood cells, and dead skin cells. At this stage, pimples can be red, white, or yellow in the center.
  4. Persistent Cysts
    Cysts, also known as cystic acne, form due to infected inflammation. These are much larger and more painful, solid lumps under the skin’s surface.
  5.  (Hopefully) Healing
    The healing stage is when the immune system comes to the rescue. As time passes, pus will either drain from the pimple, or it’ll reabsorb into the body.
  6.  Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
    While the pimple heals, it may leave a small dark spot behind, due to the previous inflammation.
  7. Potential Scarring
    Depending on how severe the pimple was throughout each phase, it may leave a scar that lasts from a few weeks to even months. The good news is there are over-the-counter products, likely containing salicylic acid or retinoids, that can lighten acne scars over time. Non-chemical options include vitamin E and cocoa butter.

Can You Really Kiss Your Blemish Blues Goodbye?

As mentioned before, no matter how we strive for clear, healthy skin, oftentimes, blemishes and breakouts are inevitable for many of us. However, there are a few tips to follow that may minimize your skin worries.

Washing your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser keeps the skin free from germs and bacteria buildup. Gentle cleansers, unless advised or prescribed otherwise by a licensed dermatologist, aren’t too harsh on the skin’s surface. Harsh cleansers with potent chemicals could cause dry skin, creating more problems before fixing any. Following up with a moisturizer after each wash and applying sunscreen before leaving the house on a sunny day keeps skin clean and soft, as well as protected from the sun.

Also, remember to switch your pillowcase out once a week. Otherwise, you expose your face to dead skin cells, dirt, and impurities that have accumulated over time, which can lead to irritation and breakouts. Lastly, get your face deep cleaned via monthly facials. Bacteria festers beneath the surface, clogging pores and causing pimples or worse, cystic acne. A basic facial every month clears out all the environmental debris, oil, and dead skin cells, revealing your natural glow and preventing future breakouts.