Raising Children

Preventing Acne

What is acne?

Acne is considered the curse of the adolescent. At this time of life, when boys and girls are so conscious of their physical appearance, the appearance of a pimple on their face spells disaster. 

Acne is an infection of the sebaceous glands that results in the development of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and sometimes even boils and cysts. It usually occurs during puberty when the sebaceous glands become more active. However, in certain cases, hereditary factors or other conditions can cause acne to persist in adulthood. 

Usually, secretions from the skin glands travel up the hair follicle to the surface of the skin. Acne develops when the hair follicle is blocked. This results in a build-up of oil and bacteria, which ruptures the skin. Pimples and blackheads are manifestations of secondary infections. A blackhead or whitehead appears when dust, dirt or sebum blocks a skin pore. The waxy plug that blocks the pore is called a comedo. This forms a blackhead when it is exposed to air. Oxidation turns the head of the comedo black. If it is not open to the air, a whitehead is formed. 

Acne and hormones

Acne can also occur as a response of the skin gland to the hormone androgen (a weak male hormone). At the time of puberty, there is a slight hormonal imbalance that is caused by a girlís ovaries and adrenal glands secreting extra androgens, thus increasing the ratio of androgens to estrogen. Stress is also a factor to be considered as during times of stress, our bodies release additional androgens. 

Acne can also be linked to a womanís menstrual cycle. Some women find that they break out into pimples just before the onset of their menses. Some women who have erratic menstrual cycles and do not ovulate properly often develop acne as a result of increased androgen production by the ovaries. The reason why some women feel that their skin improves after going on the birth control pill is because the estrogen in the pills reduces skin sensitivity to androgens. A high level of estrogen in pregnant women also makes for healthier skin. Adult acne may be linked to other skin problems like tiny broken blood vessels (telangectasia) or inflamed eyelids (blepharitis). 

What you can do about it

  • Avoid using oils, greasy moisturisers and cleansing creams, and other cosmetics.
  • Wash your hands before applying makeup.
  • Throw away old makeup and buy new makeup frequently.
  • Donít borrow or use somebody elseís makeup.
  • Use an ordinary mild soap to keep your skin clean.
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and drink a lot of water.
  • Avoid a high-calorie diet, especially fried foods and sweets.

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