What causes teenage acne

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Puberty is hard at the best of times – your body is going through a huge period of change and as a result issues like acne tend to pop up (and stick around). But what is actually causing acne in teenagers? We asked Natasha Cook, Dermatologist MBBS [Hons] FACD and Founder of her eponymous brand, Dr Natasha Cook Cosmeceuticals™, what is really causing teenage acne and the best way to go about treating it.

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RELATED: 5 salicylic acid products for blackheads

So, what are the major causes of teenage acne?

To put it simply, explains Dr Cook “hormones and genetics are the two main causes of teenage acne.”

“During puberty, your hormone enlarge the sebum glands causing them to produce more oil. The hormones also [wreak] havoc with the skin’s exfoliation process, leading to increased congestion and breakouts,” she explains. However, another factor to take into account is actually diet. While diet is often not the cause of acne, it can play a crucial role in making pre-existing acne worse. “High GI, high sugar and high carb diets are the worst. They create insulin instability which then creates hormone instability, leading to more breakouts,” says Dr Cook. “High sugar carb diets are like fertiliser for your breakouts.”

Are there any other factors to take into account?

While hormones and genetics are the major causes, and diet is an important factor to consider, there are a few other environmental factors that could be making the problem worse.

“Environmental factors [such as stress can] then add more fuel to the acne fire and breakout fire…Stress creates increased hormones from your adrenal glands that then adds to the breakout factor,” says Cook.

What products and ingredients are right to treat it?

When it comes to skincare, be very selective and aware of what you’re using, explains Cook. “There are so many brands promising the world when it comes to acne, but delivering the wrong ingredients and information…this can create or aggravate the problem,” she says. Cook’s ultimate recommendation is finding a dermatologist who specialises in treating acne to get a holistic treatment plan, including checking hormone levels. “One in four girls have polycystic ovarian syndrome…a simple blood test can pick it up, treating it will also fix your skin.”

When you are choosing products however, your number one priority should be a good cleanser. “It should be gentle, nothing that foams or has scrub like beads. Over cleansing and the wrong cleanser makes acne worse.

bh loves: Dr Natasha Cook Cosmeceuticals Concentrated Cleanser™(find it at drnatashacook.com) and Liberty Belle Rx Gentle Rose Cream Cleanser (find it at libertybelle.com.au)

“Then look for specific active ingredients that prevent blackheads and whiteheads. My favourites are salicylic acid and lactic acid. These ingredients dissolve pore congestion and prevent their formation by promoting cell exfoliation and the cell renewing process,” explains Cook.

bh loves:Trilogy Blemish Control Gel and La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+

“These are some of the most tried and tested ingredients in dermatology. They are known for their ability to clear congestion, allowing the skin to clear and heal. Salicylic acid has the added benefit of being an anti-inflammatory, so will settle your breakouts quicker,” says Cook.

Main image credit @maddiegirl

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