Read the latest in Beauty News from our professional therapists at Complete Skin & Beauty.

Teenage Acne

As a skin therapist I want to make it my mission to educate everyone and help others in their acne journey. Believe it or not, I suffered teenage acne throughout my teenage years and well into my early 20’s. It was debilitating and impacted my life so deeply. I understand the difficulties involved in this skin condition and I want to give back and help you as best as I can. 

Our skin is the largest organ in our body, it is essential for protecting our internal organs, muscles and bones, it literally holds us together. Skin reflects who we are and it can be the first impression of us upon others.For teenagers this can be a painful and embarrassing impression when acne starts.

Acne comes up upon each person differently and can feel terrible and affect self-esteem but please don’t let it! Acne does not define you who you are! 

Acne is so common it can be considered universal in teenagers, with a prevalence in Australia of;

  • 93.3% in people aged 16-18years.
  • 85% in people aged 12-14years
  • 64% 20-29 years
  • 43% 30-39 years

What causes acne?

Acne is most commonly found on the face, neck, chest, back and shoulders and the medical name is Acne Vulgaris. It’s a disease of the skin that occurs when something goes wrong with the production of sebum in the skin and the flow of the sebum to the skin’s surface.

Sebum is the waxy oily substance that keeps the skin waterproof. It is produced in the sebaceous glands in the skin, which are connected to hair follicles. The sebum travels from the sebaceous glands up to the skin in these pores.

Hair follicles can be blocked by dead skin cells, dirt, make-up which can cause a build-up of sebum. This can cause inflammation- pain, redness, and swelling. Bacteria then invades the area, and pus can form leaving different types of sores and blemishes depending on the stage of the cycle.

Different types of acne can be;

  • Blackheads - a blackhead is the collection of dead cells in the pore ( the black is not dirt, just discolouration)
  • Whiteheads - sebum is building up behind the blockage causing a lump, which hasn’t opened into the skin
  • Papules - sebum has broken out into the layers beneath the surface of the skin and caused inflammation, so it appears as painful reddish lumps 
  • Pustules - the inflammation has turned into pus and broken through to the skin to form a yellowish breakout also known as a the classic pimple
  • Cysts and nodules- these are lumps deeper in the skin caused by hardening of the tissues left over inflammation in the skin- cysts and nodules can be very painful
  • Open sores- usually pimples that have been scratched, exposing them to the air
  • Scars-pockmarked, sometimes darkened, areas of the skin left after pustules have healed.

Acne doesn't necessarily come from poor hygiene and simply just washing your face can help, acne is can be caused from a multiple internal factors such as;

Hormonal Changes- Androgens are hormones that increase in boys and girls during puberty and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. Androgen hormones are sex hormones that are released by the adrenal glands, ovaries and testes.

The androgen we are most familiar with is testosterone which plays the biggest role in acne development although it’s typically thought of as a male hormone, women have testosterone too. Androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands, making them produce more sebum and then producing acne.

Diet- Diet can play a huge factor into how your skin functions. Choosing foods with High GI such as soda, lollies, sugary cereals and ice cream can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar and exacerbate acne. This is because when eating sugary foods, it increases levels of insulin, which is a hormone that shuttles sugar out of your blood and into your cells where it is used for energy. This stimulates the release of other hormones, such as insulin-like growth factors. This increase in the hormones leads to excess sebum production and hyperkeratinization which can worsen acne. 

Stress-  Yes, stress can be one of the causes of your acne!. Ever notice around exam time, you get that pesky lot of break-outs? That is because emotional stress triggers an increased release of the stress hormone ‘cortisol’. When cortisol levels rise, they disrupt levels of hormones that regulate sebum balance and result in clogged pore and development of acne. Stress acne can happen at any time, at any age and generally due to exams, assignments it is common for when you are under an increased amount of stress, this can trigger hormonal changes that simply worsen acne.

Treatments available 

There are plenty of approaches to take when treating acne. My personal favourite treatments to help treat acne are Vitamin A peels, AHA/BHA peels and LED light therapy

LED light therapy is a pain-free, non-invasive, soothing and rejuvenating skin treatment. LED, which stands for light-emitting diode,  is a skin care treatment that uses varying wavelengths of light including red and blue. LED light therapy is used to increase the healing process and is amazing for acne due to it’s calming and antibacterial properties.

This treatment works at a cellular level to stimulate the healing mechanisms in the skin. The red light gently stimulates collagen production and healthy cell formation and the blue light reduces acne bacteria and can reduce inflammation and breakouts. LED is is a non-invasive treatment that can give you instant results.

Usually the two most common families of exfoliating acids that are found in skin care are(Alpha Hydroxy acids) and BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acids) Even though they work completely differently they are commonly found together in anti-acne treatments

Alpha Hydroxy acids  is an acid that is derived from sugarcane, milk or fruit. AHA’S break down the “ glue” between dead skin cells, which allows them to be sloughed off revealing healthier skin cells. Some AHA’s contain water binding properties to allow more hydration into the skin allowing juicy plump skin cells and less redness/tightness into the skin.

Beta Hydroxy acids are derived from willow tree bark and is a part of the aspirin  family. Just like AHA's, BHA’s exfoliate your skin surface, but they also work deep inside your pores. On the surface level, BHA’s help remove dead skin cells by loosening the protein bonds between skin cells. BHA’s also have anti-inflammatory photoprotective properties.

Inside your pores, BHAs have several mechanisms of action. They exfoliate the pore lining so that oil can flow out more freely, preventing the build-up of dead skin and sebum that leads to clogged and stretched-out pores. BHA’s reduce the amount of oil your skin produces and slow down the rate of skin-cell  shedding ( acne is associated with hyperkeratinization- meaning the body is shedding skin cells too fast) as well to help dissolve oil and keratin plugs.

Vitamin A Peels/infusions 

Vitamin A peels are used to improve skin health and restore a healthy glow. It is extremely common to be used for anti-ageing but is also beneficial for acne as well. The Vitamin A peel is a chemical peel that works by activating cell turnover to exfoliate the surface cells, helping unclog pores, removal of blackheads and shrinking enlarged pores.

Retinol peels can help decrease skin’s inflammation, increase skin cell growth, heal lesions and scars, possibly decrease sebum production, evening skin tone and protect against environmental damage.

As well as using prescribed skin care here are other tips to help

  • Changing your pillows, bed sheets and towels every 3-5 days
  • Healthy low GI-diet
  • Avoid using stripping products (over stripping your skin's barrier can cause more sebum protection and irritation to the skin)
  • Avoid fragranced and alcohol based skin products
  • Double cleanse your skin morning and night followed by moisturising skin products and SPF 
  • Incorporating essential fatty acids into your food routine

Why do we recommend Fish oils for your skin?

The link between acne and the western diet is strong and the evidence is mounting. Population-based studies reveal that in societies where people eat a non-western diet, acne is virtually unheard off. The western diet, while being plentiful of inflammation causing omega 6s (such as the vegetable and seed oils ubiquitous in processed food) is lacing in longer chain omega 3 fatty acids the body can’t make for itself. Numerous studies have shown that being deficient in omega 3 fatty acids can lead to a whole host of skin conditions including acne.

Taking omega 3 for your skin can benefit acne in three ways. Firstly, it can regulate hormones such as testosterone that trigger the overproduction of sebum. Secondly, its essential fatty acid and EPA is converted in the body to powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial substances, soothing the inflammatory response. And thirdly it can stop the liver producing a hormone called “insulin-like” growth factor 1, which can in turn soothe spots.

Acne is not just about having “poor hygiene” or needing to “wash your face more” it is far much more complicated than that! Acne is a  complex issue impacted by factors such as hormones, genetics and is simply not a “quick fix”. Your skin is a beautiful yet complex organ and everyone’s skin is unique to them. A treatment that worked well for someone else might not work for you! 

By educating people in acne, I want to offer the tools for making wiser choices that will benefit their present and future selves in their healing journey. I encourage everyone to embrace their natural selves, free from any judgement, and I want to liberate individuals to feel comfortable in their own way. Acne may raise many challenges in your life, but it in no way needs to defeat you! 

Reflect on the progress you’ve made, CELEBRATE IT! Be proud of yourself! This is not an easy road to be on, you are strong enough and worthy enough to create new paths to fulfilling left (yes, even with active acne!!!!).

The skilled and passionate skin therapists at Complete Skin & Beauty are here to support you on the journey, and share their knowledge and advice. Book in for a free skin consultation at your local salon.

Jayedyn has been a beauty therapist for 6 years.  Jayedyn has a huge passion for skin and skin knowledge, and loves to educate her clients and team members. She is also a fully qualified Cosmetic Tattooist for Eyebrow and Lips.  When she is not at work she is relaxing at home with her 2 fur babies or hanging out with friends and seeking further education in everything beauty.

Jayedyn R
Senior Therapist
Complete Skin & Beauty Albany Creek

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