Submit your skincare questions to Dr. Agnes, CEO of Herborium and natural medicine expert
Dr. Gilligan, Chief Scientific Officer at AcnEase, collaborated with me today to clarify the facts about teen acne.
The Truth About Teen Acne
teenagers will experience acne at some point during their adolescent
years. A number of factors contribute to teenagers having the highest
incidence of acne. Many parents attribute acne to poor diet or lack of
attention to proper skin cleansing and moisturizing. However, the real
cause of acne is a hormonal imbalance related to adolescence that over
stimulates the sebaceous glands.
A hallmark of teenage skin aside from the pimples is "greasy or oily skin".
appearance of oily skin goes hand in hand with the increased appearance
of acne. The oily skin is due to an over secretion of sebum (skin oil)
by the sebaceous glands. This over production of sebum not only
manifests itself as oily skin but can also lead to clogged pores that
are seen as "white heads" and "black heads." Once the pores of the skin
are clogged with sebum, they accumulate dead skin cells and provide a
perfect breading ground for the growth of bacteria. This combination of
clogged pores and growth of bacteria is responsible for acne.
A proper skin cleansing routine with the use of non irritating and non over drying toners and hypo allergenic moisturizers
can help but cannot really treat acne. Topical bacteria killing agents
such as benzoyl peroxide are also a staple for treating teenage acne,
however, neither of these approaches addresses the real problem; that
being over secretion of the sebaceous glands.
Why Acne Won't Just Go Away
answer to this question is based upon understanding the genesis of teen
acne. Treating teen acne is indeed necessary for at least three
reasons: first - about 35% of teen acne will not go away on its own and
will become chronic acne; second - even if teen acne does eventually go
away, during the time it's left untreated, potential permanent damage to
the skin can occur. This damage manifests itself in the form of acne
marks and scars as well as psychological and social issues.
number of factors can cause an increase in sebaceous gland secretions,
but the primary culprit is the androgen hormones. In particular the
analogs of testosterone, dihydrotestotsterone (DHT) and
dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) which are thought to have the most
dramatic impact on sebaceous gland secretions. Understanding that
androgen related hormones can influence sebaceous gland secretions is
only part of the story. What most people do not know is that both
females and males produce testosterone, estrogen and progesterone (just
in different amounts), and that only 1-2% of these hormones circulate
freely in the blood. The remaining 98% are bound to a protein called Sex
Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). If the androgen hormones are bound to
SHBG in the blood, they will not cause acne - it is only the "free form"
of DHT and DHEAS that can cause the sebaceous glands to make more
(male and female), as they transition through puberty, have significant
fluctuations in their respective hormone levels. A rapid increase in
either estrogen or testosterone will lead to an increase in "free"
hormone levels which will result in over production of sebum by the
the teenage years, there is also a noticeable growth spurt caused by
increased levels of growth hormone. Growth hormone is the key hormone
responsible for teenagers to reach their optimal adult height. Aside
from stimulating growth of the skeleton and muscles, growth hormone
decreases the production of SHBG leading again to increased levels of
"free" hormones in the blood further stimulating the sebaceous glands
and increasing the likelihood of acne.