What causes teenage acne? This is a question that I am asked time and time again. The truth is what causes teenage acne can differ from teenager to teenager.
For some cases of teenage acne that I treat, it can be purely down to a very bad diet. In all cases of teenage acne, I ask my clients to provide me with a food diary to allow me to see what they are eating and this also allows them to write down the type of spots that are appearing each day. In some cases of teenage acne the food diary can read similar to this:
Breakfast: Sugary cereals* and milk
Snack: Chocolate bar and caffeine drink
Lunch: Ham sandwich, crisps and coke
Dinner: Chips and curry
Snack: Biscuits and tea
Can you see anything wrong with this diet?
This diet contains no vitamins or minerals (*often sugary cereals contain some vitamins and minerals but the level of sugar in these cereals outweighs any health benefits from the vitamins) and the body needs these natural chemicals to allow it to work. A diet that is devoid of vitamins and minerals can show no problems for some time but eventually, especially during puberty when it needs more vitamins and minerals to produce and balance hormones, it can start to malfunction.
This type of diet stresses the digestive system and this causes the body to use even more vitamins and minerals.
If you have teenage acne and your diet is similar to the above – try for one week to change your diet and have porridge for breakfast, fruit for snacks, and meat/poultry or fish with salad and brown rice or brown pasta for dinner. Remove all fizzy drinks and caffeine drinks and drink more water and see if this helps your skin. If it does then continue and your teenage acne may very well clear.
For some of my clients with teenage acne a healthy diet is not enough because they have underlying health issues. If you have teenage acne and have followed a healthy diet and still have acne, I would ask you to carefully read through this list to see if you can recognise any of the symptoms, indicating that you have underlying health issues that you are likely to have inherited:
- You feel moody and irritable
- You struggle to listen at school and to retain information, making revision and exam time very stressful for you
- You have anxiety and struggle at times to make and keep friends
- You have difficulty sleeping and lay awake for a long-time in bed before you eventually turn over to sleep
- You find your brain racing at night and feel that at times you obsess about what people have said to you and you feel at times you get paranoid
- You have restless legs when watching the television or when in bed
- You suffer from motion sickness
- You have dry/itchy/burning eyes
- You have stomach ache and have cramps in your stomach after eating and can remember having this most of your life
- You have burning in your stomach if you do not eat on time or skip a meal
- You have white spots on your finger nails
- You have red spots on your temples
- You have hard red spots on your chin area that appear with 4-5 tiny whiteheads
- You have lots of whiteheads and blackheads on your chin, cheeks or forehead
- You have tiny whiteheads that keep appearing on the sides of your nose
- You have red spots on your cheeks that do not come to a whitehead
You may not have all of these, but even answering yes to some of these indicates that you have underlying health issues that need to be resolved.
Teenage acne is normally linked to ‘too many hormones’ but the truth is that hormones are not the cause of teenage acne. The link between hormones and teenage acne lies with the workings of the adrenal glands. These are little glands that sit on top of the kidneys, these regulate many parts of your body and when puberty kicks in these little glands have the work of producing and regulating puberty hormones, but it is not the hormones that cause the problem but instead it is at this time that if the adrenal glands are overworked or if there are underlying health issues that these will become obvious with the appearance of spots.
Teenage acne must always be treated seriously and if there are underlying health issues these must be treated seriously too. Just because you are a teenager does not mean that you should be moody, or anxious or have teenage acne; indeed these are accepted by many adults as being part of teenage life when the reality is that these feelings and the appearance of acne indicate imbalances that can often be simply corrected.
I never recommend antibiotics, the contraceptive pill or Roccutane for teenage acne simply because I encourage all my clients with teenage acne to treat the root cause of the problem. If they opt to treat their acne with drugs they will not address health issues.
At the Elaine Mummery acne clinic I take teenage acne seriously as if the problem can be addressed at a young age it can stop acne from being taken into adult life.