- Twenty–year–old Reena (name changed) wants to remove her double chin and undergo a breast lift.
- Sixteen–year–old Sushmita had chicken pox when she was a child and wants to get rid of the scars on her face.
- Twenty–year–old Jayant wants to get rid of the skin tags on his neck and white spots in his underarms.
- Nineteen–year–old Dushyant has acute dandruff infection which has resulted in a thinning of his hair.
- Fifteen–year–old Sujata wants to make her dull and lifeless hair look healthy.
- Twenty–three–year–old Ravi is handsome and healthy, and has a steady job, but he is obsessed about his looks and feels he is not good looking!
A balanced physical and emotional personality is a prerequisite to success. Until now, beauty and its pursuit has always been the domain of the fairer sex. However, now, things have changed. Today, one finds generation X boys visiting all–male beauty parlors and gymnasiums with the same aim in mind. Actually speaking, beauty is only skin deep! Yes, beautiful and glowing skin is a reflection of good general health of your body. Hygiene and good habits keep illness away. If we imbibe and practice good habits, we are less likely to fall prey to disease. Why not put it into practice from an early age and make it a habit.
Puberty, nature’s way of preparing your body for the big task of regeneration of the human species is a natural phenomenon. The onset of puberty varies from person to person. Generally this phenomenon takes place between 12 years to 14 years of age. It is a stage when boys and girls start becoming conscious of their body and their physical appearance. A commonplace occurrence during teens is pimples. In fact, every teenager has had to fight a battle with pimples. You get up one morning and look into the mirror and wonder how you’ve got them.
Well, here is how they break out on your face. Hormonal changes occurring during puberty expose your skin to heat and humidity. This triggers an eruption of pimples. But, why do they occur at all? A changed hormonal level during puberty stimulates sebaceous glands which secrete more sebum (a greasy substance that lubricates hair and skin), say doctors.
How do teenagers react to this significant change? At this age, girls become conscious of their face, while boys are more conscious of their body, says clinical psychologist Sangita Thakur Wadnerkar. “The hormonal aspect is a natural phenomenon. Even if teenagers do not have any skin–related problems, they still feel they don’t look good”, she reveals. The sensitivity level in teenagers is high as they want to be accepted socially and by their friends.
“Even one pimple on the face gives rise to stress. Stress by itself could cause skin rashes”, she adds. Quite often, teenaged girls resort to cosmetics to cover these blemishes. This may only aggravate the problem. To add to their problems, teenagers have no one to tell them about hygiene and the need to maintain good dietary habits.
What do you know about your skin?
There are more than 1,000 skin–related maladies. Some are rare, some are infective while some are genetic. Most skin–related problems are partly hereditary and partly a part and parcel of our day–to–day routine.
The common skin–related complaints of the 13 to 20 year olds are white heads and black heads of acne, oily skin, dry skin, recurring dandruff, hair loss, facial pigmentation, sun allergies, eczema, and fungal infections in the underarm and groin areas. Skin allergies like candiasis and tinea are also common.
Stress is also a major perpetrator of skin–related problems and can cause acne, hair loss and thin, stringy hair. Pollution is another factor that can aggravate sun–related allergies, cause pimples and facial pigmentation (nutritional dischromi/ post–inflammatory hypo–pigmentation in medical lingo).
If you live in dry climate areas and are of the dry skin type, exposure to ultraviolet rays can lead to sun–related allergies and rashes could appear on the exposed areas of the skin. Kids who play in public gardens are also prone to get allergic rashes (artopic dermatitis inherent in childhood manifests).
Scientifically, cheese and chocolates are also triggering factors. “These can cause urtucaria or red nettal rash/hives (allergy to tomato/peanut butter etc). Nowadays, food rashes are on the increase as lesser number of teenagers eat hygienic, home cooked meals and prefer to eat fast food instead” says dermatologist Dr Sunil Tolat.
Some skin–related problems like molluscum contagegusum occur especially in slums and are contracted by skin–to–skin contact. There are certain skin manifestations if one contracts venereal disease as well.
The role hygiene plays
How can the 13 to 20 year olds cope with skin–related problems? Staying clean, observing good dietary habits and regular exercise are the best safeguards. If your body is healthy, your hair will also be healthy and no amount of shampooing or conditioning can help you otherwise. Wash your hair and body at least once a day. Skin specialist and cosmetologist Dr Dilip Shah maintains that the right kind of soap solves 50 per cent of the problem. Use mild bath soaps. These cause minimum irritation to the skin, give it a suppleness and also act as a cleansing agent. Your skin will remain soft not due to its oil content but because of its hydration. Applying a good moisturizer after bath is effective. Refrain from using medicated soaps as these can give rise to sun exposed rashes, cautions Dr Shah. Those having dry skin should use soap twice or thrice in a week especially in areas of sweating.
Steaming twice a week is good for oily skin types as it opens pores. But do not expose your body or face to cold shower immediately after steaming or sauna bath, cautions Dr Shah. After working out in a gymnasium, don’t leave sweat on your skin. Your skin is sensitive to your own sweat. Uric acid in your sweat can lead to infestation of fungus on your back and front.