The teen years can be a stressful time, which is extra frustrating because acne can be both a symptom of, and contributor to, stress. “Stress can result in increased cortisol production which is a known aggravator for acne,” says Dr. Benjamin Barankin, dermatologist and medical director and founder of the Toronto Dermatology Centre and a spokesperson for the Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada, which marks Acne Awareness Month in September.
The silver lining of this blemished cloud is that dealing with adolescent acne can help teens establish good skin-care habits early on in life, something I know from personal experience. To treat existing acne, look for products containing active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or sulphur and apply them sparingly to the area prone to outbreaks. Barankin recommends washing your face no more than twice daily with a gentle cleanser, not soap. Finally, a moisturizing cream or lotion should always be applied after cleansing.
Seeking the professional treatment of a dermatologist may be required if over-the-counter treatments aren’t delivering good results after three months of consistent use, if the acne is deep and tender or cystic, or if the acne is affecting your mood or behaviour. For those feeling down about their skin, Barankin has some reassurance: “Acne is incredibly common, affecting 85 to 90 per cent of teenagers, so do not feel alone.”
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