Treating acne

Although acne is not exclusively a young person’s problem, an estimated 80 percent of all teenagers are thought to suffer from it to some degree. Acne in teens is caused by the increased production of hormones that stimulate the secretion of an oily substance called sebum in the skin.

When sebum becomes trapped in hair follicles, it clogs the pores and produces blackheads or whiteheads. If the clogged pore bursts, bacteria spread to surrounding tissue, forming a pimple. White blood cells gather to fight the infection, causing a blister like eruption, or pustule. Treatment of mild acne Mild cases (mostly blackheads and whiteheads) generally run their course within a year or two and usually don’t require medication or professional medical treatment. The best remedy is cleanliness. Wash the face twice a day with an unscented or medicated soap to help prevent the buildup of oils. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. More frequent washing may only irritate the skin.

Over-the-counter creams and ointments containing benzoyl peroxide may help control mild cases, but stop their use if they cause excessive dryness or chapping. Keep hands away from the face. Girls should use medicated cosmetics or none at all.

It was once believed that such foods as chocolate, cheese, and fried foods contributed to acne. These theories have been largely discredited, but any food that seems to worsen acne in an individual should be avoided.

Although acne is rarely a threat to physical health, it can cause severe emotional distress. Many affected teenagers are self-conscious about the condition, and some may withdraw or use their acne as an excuse to avoid school or social activities. If such behavior becomes a problem, seek professional counseling.

For persistent and severe cases, see your doctor. Frequent and neglected pimples and pustules can cause disfiguring scars.