Though unpleasant to deal with, acne is a very common part of adolescence. In fact, nearly eight out of ten teens experience it, as do many adults. It can present itself in many different ways, and unfortunately, it can be very difficult to get rid of.

With many teens self-conscious about their appearance, throwing acne into the mix can make it all a little more difficult. However, it’s not all bad news.

What Causes Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that can present itself as whiteheads, blackheads or cysts. The pores on the skin contain sebaceous glands which makes an oil called sebum. Due to hormonal changes during puberty, these glands can produce too much of it – and if there is too much sebum and dead skin cells, the pores can become clogged, in turn causing acne.

Certain medications, diets rich in carbohydrates and dairy and high levels of stress may also contribute to worsening acne. Some girls may even notice that their skin breaks out right before their period due to the shift in hormones.

The Different Types of Acne

Whiteheads occur when a pore gets clogged and closes but bulges out of the skin and is white in colour.

Blackheads occur when a pore gets clogged but stays open and is dark in colour.

Pimples occur when the wall of the pore opens, allowing sebum and dead skin cells to make their way under the skin, leaving a red bump.

What Can be Done About it?

There are many ways of tackling acne, but remember that everyone is different, and what works for some may not work for another.

Keep it clean – Prevent the build-up of oil that can contribute to acne by gently washing your face once or twice a day with a gentle face cleanser. If you wear makeup, make sure all of it is washed away by the end of the day so it doesn’t clog your pores. For those with a job that puts you in contact with oil – such as a fast-food job – Be sure to wash your face well after each shift.

Acne products – There are many products, including face washes, cleansing gels and face masks containing substances such as salicylic acid and tea tree oil which may help clear up or prevent acne. There are some natural remedies your teen can try out as well. Encourage your teen to try a few different ones to see what works for them.

Don’t touch it – As grossly tempting as it might be, avoid touching, picking or squeezing acne. It may seem like a quick way to get rid of an unsightly whitehead, but this can cause more inflammation and even scar your skin – and the oil from your hands won’t help, either.

Remember that sometimes, even if you’ve gone down every seemingly possible route of acne treatment, it’s possible to get acne anyway. If your teen’s acne is starting to affect their self-esteem and home remedies don’t seem to help, recruit the help of a dermatologist. The good news is that in most situations, acne clears up by the time your child is out of their teens.