Is Persistent Acne Just Part of Puberty?

Jul 01, 2023
Is Persistent Acne Just Part of Puberty?
While the teen years are prime time for persistent acne, not everyone suffers to the same degree. Some teens have an occasional pimple, while others endure repeated and overlapping outbreaks. The reason for the spread isn’t fully understood.

The acne process, skin cells and skin oil clogging pores, is easily understood. It’s even known that acne follows periods of hormone level shifts. That’s one of the reasons teens suffer more from the condition, which can hit people of all ages. 

The big mystery with teen acne is why some have heavy, persistent outbreaks while others have little more than an occasional blemish. Acne isn’t a guaranteed teen experience, but it remains likely that this is the point in life when persistent acne is most likely. 

Our team at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, specializes in acne management, and we know how frustrating persistent acne can be. There are effective treatments that can minimize flare-ups, and we can help you find the skin care routine that’s right for you. 

The acne process

There are four primary contributors to acne outbreaks. Sebum, the oily substance secreted to form a thin, protective layer over your skin, goes into a period of overproduction, usually in select places on your body — your face and forehead as well as your shoulders and upper back. 

Dead skin cells are constantly released by your body as new cells take their place. These cells combine with excessive sebum to form a sticky paste that clogs your hair follicles. These organic plugs form an ideal feeding environment for the bacteria that cause the fourth contributor, inflammation. 

Factors that affect acne activity

While the process is the same for any instance of acne, the severity of an acne outbreak depends on factors that aren’t as clearly understood. 

Genetics plays a significant role. If a teen has immediate family members who’ve had persistent acne, they’re more at risk to develop persistent acne themselves.

Sebum overproduction stems from changes in a teen’s hormonal balance. This is due to increases in androgens, hormones that cause enlargement and stimulation of sebaceous glands. It’s not known why people suffer disproportionately from the effects of androgens. 

Risk factors that don’t cause acne but may increase its activity include stress, carbohydrate-rich diets, and medications like corticosteroids and lithium. Hormone-based medications can also affect your body’s overall hormone balance. 

Acne myths

Chocolate and overall greasy diets have long been rumored to cause acne, but these factors have little to no effect on acne or its severity. 

Dirty skin from poor washing habits doesn’t significantly add to the acne burden. On the contrary, over-washing or washing with harsh cleansers can make acne worse. 

Makeup can clog pores, making acne worse, but oil-free, non-comedogenic products don’t make acne worse, nor do they interfere with acne medications. 

While persistent acne may be part of puberty, it’s not the case for every teen. When signs of severe acne begin to show, contact us at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics for a skin analysis and acne care consultation. There are ways to reduce or eliminate the intensity of teen acne. Book your appointment by phone or online today.