Adolescent Acne

Adolescent Acne: Overview

Almost all young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have at least occasional breakouts of whiteheads, blackheads or pimples.  Most can manage their acne with over-the-counter treatments but for some, acne is more serious.  By their mid-teens, nearly 35% of teenagers have acne severe enough to require some treatment from a medical professional.

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Incidence; Causes and Development

In most cases, acne starts at around the age of 12 or 13 and can last for 5 to 10 years.  It usually goes away by the early twenties.  But for some, acne can be persistent, well into the late twenties or thirties and even into the forties.  Some people get acne for the first time as an adult, never having it as a teen.

Acne affects young men slightly more than young women.  Young men are more likely to have severe, longer lasting forms of acne and are less likely to visit a dermatologist.

Some young women are more prone to occasional acne flare-ups due to their use of cosmetics and the hormonal changes associated with their menstrual cycle.  These kinds of acne may affect young women well into adulthood.

Signs and Symptoms

Acne lesions usually occur on the face, but can also occur on the neck, shoulders, chest, scalp, back, arms and legs.

Risk factors for Adolescent Acne:

Digestion

Constipation

Bowel toxins from poor digestion or a prolonged transit time may contribute to acne.

Environment / Toxicity

Reproductive

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Adolescent Acne suggests the following may be present:

Environment / Toxicity

Recommendations for Adolescent Acne:

Botanical

Vitex / Chasteberry

Vitex has been found to be very useful for treating teenage acne, preferably accompanied by changes in eating habits.

Glycolic Acid

Products containing Glycolic Acid have proven very effective in the treatment of acne.

Tea Tree oil

124 patients with mild to moderate acne in a single-blind randomized trial were given either a 5% gel of tea-tree oil or 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion.  Both treatments resulted in significant improvement of noninflamed and inflamed lesions after three months, with tea tree oil causing more severe facial redness and benzoyl peroxide being more effective in noninflamed lesions.  There were fewer unwanted side-effects in the tea tree oil group – 44% versus 79%.  It was concluded that tea tree oil may be a valuable alternative to some traditional treatments of acne.  [Lancet, December 8, 1990; p.1438, Medical Journal of Australia, 1990;153: pp.455-458]

We believe that this 5% solution is probably not strong enough for moderate to severe acne.  Stronger solutions (up to 15%) should provide even better results.

Not recommended
Bladderwrack

Iodine in any form – including from bladderwrack and other seaweeds – can cause or aggravate acne in some people.

Chemical

Boric Acid

Boric acid's anti-bacterial properties make it useful as an acne treatment, either in the form of an ointment or simply diluted with water.

Diet

Therapeutic Fasting

Fasting clears the skin and whitens the eyes.  It is common to see skin eruptions clear while fasting.

Mineral

Selenium

Acne in both men and women can show improvement with vitamin E and selenium treatment.

Not recommended
Iodine

Iodine in any form can cause or aggravate acne in some people.

Oxygen / Oxidative Therapies

Ozone / Oxidative Therapy

Ozonated olive oil used topically has a reputation for fighting acne.

Vitamins

Vitamin E

Acne in both men and women can show improvement with vitamin E and selenium treatment.

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