Fighting back against teenage acne

by Dr. Stacy Tompkins, MD

North Coast Dermatology

Cassandra Bankson knows firsthand the effects of cystic

teenage acne

, both physically and emotionally. At the age of 13, her acne had become so bad that peers were calling her pizza face and virus, teasing her to the point where it was difficult to even leave her house. As she admitted in an interview with

NBC Today

, the constant taunting from her classmates took quite a toll.

“I was my worst critic, but having that feedback from other peers was self traumatizing and put me into kind of a reclused and isolated state,” she recalled.

It was those insecurities however, that propelled Bankson to reach out to other teens who share in the same struggle, creating a

YouTube video

that inspired thousands on how to treat, conceal and cover acne. Now at the age of 19, Bankson has the last laugh – walking the runways of New York Fashion Week and fulfilling her life’s dream of becoming a model.

What Causes Teen Acne?

During puberty, a teenager’s body begins producing hormones, known as androgens, which are produced in varied amounts depending on the individual. Teenagers who produce an excess amount of these hormones cause the oil glands to become over active, and when combined with dead skin cells at the surface of the face, contribute to the onset of acne. This combination traps oil and bacteria within the pore, making it impossible for the oil being produced to get to the skins surface, causing inflammation to the site. For boys, surging levels of testosterone as their muscles and bones expand contributes to most flare ups. While for girls, their pre-menstrual cycle, increasing estrogen levels and emotional mood swings are usually to blame. In addition to fluctuating hormones, other triggers of teenage acne include improper skin care, food allergies, and nutritional imbalances.

Three Tips to Improving Acne-Prone Skin

According to

Web MD

, teenagers can certainly take control and improve the appearance of their skin by following simple tips that may help prevent in future breakouts:
  1. DON’T PICK!Squeezing does nothing more than push more bacteria and oil into pores, which causes further inflammation and may lead to acne scarring.
  2. A CONSISTENT SKIN CARE REGIMENUsing a proper skin care regimen may prevent breakouts and help in maintaining healthy skin. Harsh acne products can over-dry and irritate the skin, triggering the glands to produce even more oil which may result in more acne breakouts. For girls, removing makeup before bedtime is an effective way to prevent clogged pores and future breakouts.
  3. STAY AWAY FROM GREASY FOODSFrench fries are irresistible but for the acne prone it goes without saying, greasy foods may further contribute to the over production of oil in the body and face.

When Should a Teenager See a Doctor?

Being a teenager is hard enough as it is – but for teenagers that suffer from acne prone skin the effects can be traumatic, resulting in poor self esteem, depression and social anxiety. Teenagers from every background, nationality, shape and size will most likely experience the effects of acne during their teenage years. Like Cassandra Bankson, finding solutions to treat the acne is imperative to improve not only their acne, but also a teenager’s morale and self-esteem. “I used to sit back and let acne ruin my life. But it got to the point where I needed to do something to get myself out of the rut.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 40% of teenagers have acne which requires treatment by a

dermatologist in La Jolla

  1. If you’re a parent who has a teenager suffering from teenage or cystic acne that requires treatment, Dr. Stacy Tompkins of North Coast Dermatology can assess the extent of the problem, while offering various treatment that help in speeding up skin cell turnover, fighting bacterial infection or reducing inflammation. In some cases, an antibiotic prescription might be necessary to eliminate excess skin bacteria. It is imperative that parents talk to their teenager about the importance of following through on recommendations made by their dermatologist and fostering realistic expectations, keeping in mind that it may take up to 8 weeks to see considerable improvement. For additional information, call Dr. Stacy Tompkins of North Coast Dermatology at 858-454-4300.