I have chosen to write about acne after a concerned mother contacted us for advice for her teenage son who is all of a sudden having a real struggle with teenage (hormonal acne).
So what can you do? What causes it? What stimulates it to become worse?
There are a few different types of acne. The main types that I see in the beauty industry are hormonal acne/adult acne and acne rosacea.
HORMONAL ACNE (ACNE VULGARIS)
When your body is going through hormonal changes in those pre-teen/teen years hormonal acne can flare up, and woohoo also it can reappear if you are pregnant or going through any other hormonal changes/imbalances as an adult.
This type of acne is shown on the skin through inflammation of the follicles and sebaceous glands; causing what we commonly know as ‘pimples’, whiteheads on the skin (that you just want to get in there with your dirty mitts and pop (please don’t do this!)). These inflamed areas of the skin can also be quite painful and can also look like a cyst with no particular head on them. Accompanied by these pimples can also be blackheads.
Rosacea seems to be a lot more common here in NZ than what I have seen working overseas especially here in Wanaka. I feel in Wanaka especially being in that alpine climate we are in and out of the cold which puts stress on the tiny little capillaries or blood vessels on your cheeks making them expand and shrink quite often.
Acne Rosacea can look like tiny ‘pimples’ on top of very red skin, on a closer look though, it is very different from acne vulgaris. I have found in my experience the best way to treat this type of acne is with IPL using the light filter designed to shrink the redness on the skin.
If you want to know more about this treatment pop in for a consultation and I can thoroughly go through this with you.
If the condition is particularly bad you may need a course of antibiotics.
You typically see a lot of older men with the red nose and cheeks without the little pustules, this is commonly known as Rosacea.
To get back on track with treatment… I have worked at skin clinics and have been pushed into treating acne vulgaris with back to back peels to strip the oil and bacteria.
This is what I was taught and what many are still taught to do. Yes, it can work for a while but I have realised the best place to start is to strengthen the skin’s barrier first.
A lot of people will have tried a few supermarket acne products to help the skin, thinking they are doing the right thing, but usually you are just continuously stripping your skin’s oil back and back and back upsetting the acid mantle (your skins protective barrier which is where your pH level is).
The protective barrier becomes impaired and the skin gets very confused and will typically start to overproduce more oil to try and protect it again – adding to the problem!
It is very hard because you see the ads on TV and the products in-store and you think it is the right thing to do to help your teens skin or your adult acne.
Don’t get me wrong, peels do have a place with acne treatment, but it is so important that the skin is healthy and strong and the barrier is there before you do these things.
A lot of people with acne will end up with ‘sensitive skin’ and this is from all of the stripping products that have been used. Once your skin’s barrier is strong, peels can work very well on acne by stimulating skin cell turnover and removing bacteria and scarring.
We can also treat acne with IPL with another special light filter which targets the sebaceous glands, halting the oil production in that area and stopping the bacteria on the skin.
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR TEENAGER?
This is my advice
• Go to a skin specialist or come and see us and get three basic products, I know they are more expensive than supermarket products but generally, they are more concentrated and they come in a bigger bottle so it can work out as similar pricing.
You need a cleanser (depending on the condition of the skin, please let someone look the skin). An antibacterial mist and a moisturiser, which will also help to keep the barrier strong. You may need a serum but start with the main three I have suggested and see how you go. We have the Pure Range which is especially for detoxing the skin.
• If your teenager is going to pop pimples and blackheads, make sure they do this after a shower with clean hand and tissues wrapped around the fingers or book them in for an extraction facial and we can do this without harming the skin.
• Get them into a routine with their skin.
• Have them wear a good sunscreen without all the rubbish in there, we stock Coola.
• Once the skin’s barrier is stronger and less redness is present, it is good to do a few facials with specialised products, these may include, peels and microdermabrasion. We also do a pure facial which is made to detox and calm the skin.
• Teenage girls – please be aware of what they are putting on to cover the acne, a lot of foundations are full of chemicals and will block the pores more, aggravating the condition.
YOUR SKIN IS YOUR BIGGEST ORGAN…..remember this.
You can topically help your skin but eating fresh veggies, fruit and drinking plenty of water to flush the lymphatic system.
If something is going on internally it will generally show on your skin. This is the same when it comes to eczema and other skin conditions. Ask yourself is there something you are putting into your body that it doesn’t like?
Dietary requirements are not my expertise, and if you are wanting to look into this more I would recommend seeing a naturopath or someone in the dietary field.
Before treating acne rosacea I would recommend the same advice as above…repair the barrier. Then the treatment you decide to use (IPL etc.) will get better results if your skin is strong and in a healthy condition.
Wearing a really good sunscreen is also key.
You do not want to get a Rosacea skin burnt (or any skin). It is very important not to stress the skin out more with heat etc. or you will find it will get worse.