If you’re a teen, chances are really good that you may have some acne. Almost 8 in 10 teens have acne, as do many adults.
Acne is so common that it’s considered a normal part of puberty. But knowing that doesn’t always make it easier when you’re looking at a big pimple on your face in the mirror. So what is acne, and what can you do about it?
What is acne, why it is caused?
The hair follicles, or pores, in your skin contain sebaceous glands (also called oil glands).
These glands make sebum, which is an oil that lubricates your hair and skin. Most of the time, the sebaceous glands make the right amount of sebum. As the body begins to mature and develop, though, hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands to make more sebum.
Pores become clogged if there is too much sebum and too many dead skin cells. Bacteria (especially one called Propionibacterium acnes) can then get trapped inside the pores and multiply. This causes swelling and redness — the start of acne.
Acne is a condition of the skin that shows up as different types of bumps. These bumps can be blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, or cysts. Teens get acne because of the hormonal changes that come with puberty.
If your parents had acne as teens, it’s more likely that you will, too. The good news is that, for most people, acne goes away almost completely by the time they are out of their teens.
What you can do about it?
If you wear makeup or sunscreen, make sure it’s labeled “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic.”
This means it won’t clog your pores and contribute to acne. And when you’re washing your face, be sure you take the time to remove all of your makeup so it doesn’t clog your pores.
To help prevent the oil buildup that can contribute to acne, wash your face once or twice a day with a mild soap and warm water.
Don’t scrub your face hard with a washcloth — acne can’t be scrubbed away, and scrubbing may actually make it worse by irritating the skin and pores. Try cleansing your face as gently as you can.
Some people do find that they notice their breakouts get more severe when they eat too much of a certain food. If you’re one of them, it’s worth trying to cut back on that food to see what happens.
If you look in the mirror and see a pimple, don’t touch it, squeeze it, or pick at it. This might be hard to do — it can be pretty tempting to try to get rid of a pimple.
But when you play around with pimples, you can cause even more inflammation by popping them or opening them up. Plus, the oil from your hands can’t help! More important, though, picking at pimples can leave tiny, permanent scars on your face.
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