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Teen Acne - Nature VS Nurture

Teen Acne - Nature VS Nurture

Acne is the dreaded four-letter word for any teen. More than 85% of teens have this common skin condition to one degree or another. Genetically speaking, if both your parents had adolescent acne, you are 50% more likely to have acne.

It never fails—it’s the morning of Prom and you wake up with three new pimples.  You feel your life is ruined.  How can you possibly go to the dance now? You want to run and hide!  If you haven’t been through this or something similar you can count yourself as lucky.  Acne Vulgaris, the medical term for acne, is the most common skin disease.  It affects nearly 17 million people in the United States.  While acne can arise at any age, it usually begins at puberty and worsens during adolescence.

Acne is the dreaded four-letter word for any teen.  More than 85% of teens have this common skin condition to one degree or another.  Genetically speaking, if both your parents had adolescent acne, you are 50% more likely to have acne. 

But why?  Your genes determine how your immune system takes care of bacteria, including on your skin.  They also determine your pore size, how much sebum you produce, if your skin sheds dead cells easily, if you over produce androgen hormones, etc.  Does that mean you can place the blame on dear old mom and dad?  Not entirely.

Other factors to consider when looking at solutions for teen acne would be environmental.  It’s the old Nature vs. Nurture controversy.  We can’t assume that because our ancestors were riddled with a “colorful” past that we will be too. “Yes, acne is genetic – to a point,” says Evelyn Chen, biomedical engineer and founder of Nerd Skincare.  “Genes play an important role in determining sebum production level and how skin responds to hormonal changes, stress, and other internal factors.” However, she points out that environment still impacts the formation of pimples, along with their frequency and severity.

When it comes to acne, what’s happening on the inside of your body is just as important as what is happening on the outside.  Lifestyle can play a positive role in acne conditions. “Even if you are genetically predisposed to acne, it doesn’t mean you can’t influence the degree to which it affects you by making informed, healthy choices in your lifestyle,” says Sarah Villafranco, MD, founder and CEO of Osmia Organics skin care. “If you eat an anti-inflammatory diet, have healthy stress management techniques, and try not to touch your face all day long, you may keep yourself under the threshold for expressing that genetic predisposition.”  So, while the way dad’s complexion looked in high school may be daunting, the way you manage your lifestyle will play a larger role in the long run.  Looks like Mom and Dad are off the hook.

One of the major keys to healthy skin at any age is keeping it clean, exfoliated, and hydrated.  Keeping your skin clean is important. However, remember more is not better in this scenario.  That seems counter-intuitive, but it’s not.  Washing your face removes oil, debris, and bacteria.  However, the skin needs a natural barrier of oil to remain hydrated and healthy.  Excessively washing your face throughout the day can strip the skin of its essential moisture and send the signal for more sebum (oil) to be produced.  In turn, your problem is only exacerbated.  Washing more than twice a day does not equate to less acne.  Stick to a good skin care regimen of morning and evening.  Use appropriate, pharmaceutical grade products, and BE CONSISTENT! As many of us remember, our teen years seemed to be very stressful.  That same stress causes breakouts.  But why do pimples develop when we are under pressure?  The answer is easy.  Stress hormones produce an increase in oil production.  If you are prone to breakouts this adds “fuel to the fire”.  Learn to manage stress through exercise, meditation, and healthy sleep patterns.  Lack of sleep can also contribute to the stimulation of oil production through an imbalance in your hormones. 

Your diet is important.  I remember being young and hearing, “You are what you eat.”  It hit me and made me realize I certainly didn’t want to be a “Big Mac”.  Your skin responds to the nutrients that you feed it.  So, what does it need?  Feed it foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin A.  Watch for added hormones and anti-biotics.  Try reducing your intake of sodium and refined sugars.  Add plenty of low-fat proteins and dark leafy greens.  Sound boring?  You can still have the occasional burger and fries – just not every meal.  Save it for special occasions.  Your skin will thank you.  Finally, PROTECT YOUR SKIN.  Your acne will not last forever.  Enjoy your youthful skin and help it to remain this way by protecting it with SPF daily.  As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 


If you have any questions and would like to speak to one of our friendly Master Aestheticians in your area please email support@glymedplusaustralia.com.au


Teen Acne - Nature vs Nurture.pdf
Written by The Institute of Skin Science