Skin is the number one concern among teens, and acne is the most common skin problem among them. Acne occurs in 80 per cent adolescent girls and 90 per cent adolescent boys.
Acne is caused by small, overactive sebaceous glands connected to hair follicles. The hair follicles can become blocked and infected from an overgrowth of bacteria resulting in acne.
The sebaceous glands are controlled by androgens, which are male sex hormones. As puberty progresses, androgens increase the size of sebaceous glands to adult size, producing more sebum, causing acne.
Sometimes acne is mild and easily managed but often it becomes severe and persistent. Only about 27 percent of teens between the ages 12 and 17 have clear skin, free from significant lesions. Five percent of teenagers with acne have inflammations which leads to permanent scarring. When your acne is severe, seek medical help. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics or other medication which will help control the acne.
If you have mild acne, or an occasional outbreak, here are some tips to help you manage acne:
- Wash your face with mild soap and water.
- Only wash your face about twice a day–washing too much may worsen the acne (by spreading it around your face!).
- Use a clean washcloth each time you wash your face–a dirty wet cloth is only a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Avoid using benzyl peroxide or other drying medication.
- Avoid wearing too many cosmetics or wear only water–based formulas.
- Keep your hair away from your face.
- Sunlight can have a beneficial effect (20 minutes in the morning or afternoon is just the trick).
- Don’t squeeze or scratch acne, as this will cause it to spread.
- Eat plenty of food rich in zinc, such as soybeans, whole grains, sunflower seeds or supplement your diet with zinc.
- Eat a diet that is high in fiber. This will help your body get rid of toxins.
- Try to avoid refined sugar.
- Try to avoid hydrogenated oils and saturated fats.
- Give up junk food.
- Drink plenty of clean water to flush out your system.
- Get enough sleep.
You have between 1,00,000 and 2,00,000 hairs on your head. The roots of hair are made of living cells and grow out of the dermis. A hair grows out of a follicle, which is a small packet that holds the root in the dermis. Through the follicle the root is supplied with blood and nerve tissue. Hair normally grows at about 6 inches per year. You can lose between 25 and 100 hairs daily.
Some hair tips
- Wash your hair regularly.
- If possible, let your hair dry naturally.
- Brush well once a day.
- Massage the scalp with the brush to promote circulation and hair growth.
Sunny, a teenager, was attracted to classmate of his. He finally got the courage to ask her out on a date. On the D–day, to his horror he found a big pimple on his face. He was tempted to cancel the whole program just because of the ‘Zit’ but that is a different story.
Teenage or adolescence–a time when appearances do matter and hormones play havoc in the human body. One on the unwanted by–products of this being acne. Zinc and essential fatty acids are required for the maturing organs in the body especially the gonads and the skin. A teenage body has to decide how to ration these small amounts of essential building material it is given through an adolescent diet which is usually junk food. The question the body faces is whether it should use it for the growing body or to promote skin health.
But this is not the only cause of acne. Stress, hormones, missing nutrients, intestinal problems, genetic disposition could be some of the factors that create havoc with the skin. Antibiotics or skin ointments may improve symptoms initially but in the long term may worsen the condition. A healthy diet also means having healthy skin. For those who are specially prone to having acne, the following tips should help improve the condition.
Binge on salads
Include lot of raw food in form of greens and salads in your food. Fiber–rich foods and beneficial bacteria are both essential for healthy skin. A lack of fiber leads to constipation which causes to circulate through out the body and come out through the skin.
Find low calorie snack alternatives
Wafers, pokadas, vadas, samosas are snacks that we eat without giving too much thought. Most of these are deep fried and saturated with oil. Highly heated fats have negative effects on overall wellness and skin health. Even baked goods like puffs contain margarine or hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils interfere with hormones called the prostaglandin’s that keep the skin healthy.
Promote liver health
Excess of alcohol creates stress on the liver. Liver and skin are both organs of detoxification. If the liver is under stress and not doing a good job of getting rid of toxic materials more toxins will come out through the skin, decreasing skin quality. In other words a healthy liver is critical for skin health.
Drink to your health
Water is on drink that you can guzzle without worrying about it. One to one and a half liter of water consumed daily helps wash out all the waste from the body.
Oxgenate you lungs
Take deep breaths early morning. Breathing fresh air ensures better oxygenation of blood supplied to the body including the skin. Smoking not only increases the toxins that need to be eliminated by the body it also causes the skin to feel dry.
Learn to relax and get adequate sleep. Regular exercise keeps the body toned but also activates the sweat glands and promotes the process of elimination of wastes. If you have a good work out it also ensures that you have good sleep. Beauty may be skin deep but as first impressions are lasting impressions there is no harm to in looking after it. Human skin is the largest organ of the body. It probably has the greatest number of functions. Your overall appearance is greatly affected by the quality of your skin.
Your skin provides
- A watertight covering of the body.
- Precaution against the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
- Regulation of body temperature.
- Perspiration release through pores onto your skin.
- Communication with the outside environment.
- Sensors for pain, pressure and temperature.
Your skin has three main layers:
- The epidermis.
- The dermis.
- The hypodermis.
The dermis is the inner, thicker layer of skin. The dermis has Protein fibers that give skin its elasticity and flexibility. Nerve endings, glands and hair follicles extend into the dermis. There are two main kinds of glands in the dermis:
- Sebaceous glands.
- Sweat glands.
Even today, when the effects of sun exposure are becoming an increasing concern due to the holes in the ozone layer, many teens enjoy tanning. One survey revealed that only 9% of teens use sunscreen on a daily basis. Because the ozone layer has gaping holes in it as steadily thinning, it can no longer screen out the most harmful ultraviolet rays and sun exposure increases sunburn and skin cancer.
Some tips to protect yourself from sunburn:
- Wear a sunscreen lotion, it will allow you to tan but will decrease the chance of burning. Choose a lotion with 20 or more PABA concentration.
- Do not be fooled by clouds, wind and water at the beach. The sun’s rays still get through and are still strong.
- Reapply sunscreen lotions frequently (especially if you are swimming).
- Avoid the sun between 12 noon and 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon when its ultraviolet rays are the strongest.
- Slowly build up your exposure to the sun by starting in 15–30 minute periods.
“Your mouth is the barometer of your body’s health”: Dr. Cherilyn Sheets
Teens between the ages of 13 to 16 are especially likely to get cavities because they have a busy life. You may not be taking the time to clean your teeth properly. IF you don’t clean your teeth right, and you eat lots of sugar–filled food you will develop plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a form of harmful oral bacteria that forms on teeth. Certain bacteria in the plaque combine with sugar to form acids that attack tooth enamel, leading to decay or gum diseases.
But if you spend 10–15 minutes a day cleaning and flossing your teeth, or if you eat a healthy diet free of vast quantities of refined sugar, you will probably be able to keep your teeth your entire life. Which sort of brush should I use? Choose a soft–bristled brush, because hard–bristles can damage your gums. Always keep 2 to 3 new brushes around. A brush will need to be replaced about every 3 months.
What kind of floss should I use? Any floss you prefer, wax or un–waxed, flavored or plain. If the paces between your teeth are tight, you might prefer a waxed floss, which is less likely to fray in tight spots. If your teeth are very tight, you might like floss made out of a “Teflon” like shred proof material.
Which toothpaste should I use? Any fluoridated or tarter–control toothpaste may be a good choice, but remember that no paste controls tartar below the gum line. Brushing will control tartar by removing plaque. Twice a year you will need a professional cleaning at your dentist’s . Fluoridated toothpastes with natural ingredients are also okay. What’s the best way to brush? After putting the paste on the brush, start with the brush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth at the gum line. You can use a circular brushing motion or a straight downward and upward one. To focus on the gum line, a back–and–forth scrub may be needed. Brush all chewing surfaces thoroughly and also reach the inside surfaces of the front teeth.
What’s the best way to floss? Think of floss as an extension of the brush, a means of cleaning surfaces that the brush can’t reach. Take a length of floss and wind the ends around your index fingers so you can hold it taunt. As you floss, wind and unwind, so you keep flossing with a clean part of the floss and not with the plaque you’ve already collected. Slip the thread gently between the teeth and up and under the gum line.
Remember you are after the plaque on the side of the tooth. If your gums bleed lightly at first, keep on flossing, the bleeding should subside as your gums get used to flossing. How much is enough? Brushing twice daily and flossing once in the evening is a practical amount of teeth–cleaning to do. You can brush first and floss or floss and brush second–it really doesn’t matter much as long as your teeth get cleaned. Spend five minutes or so per session on your tooth cleaning, depending on how fast you work. Don’t forget to rinse to get the bacteria and germs your brushing and flossing have freed out of your mouth. Plain water works fine.
Many teens wear braces. Braces are for:
- Correcting alignment between teeth of the upper and lower jaws.
- Pushing teeth into proper positions.
- Correcting bite problems.
- Correcting crowded and crooked teeth.
- Correcting the spacing among teeth.