If you’re the parent of a teen, there’s a good chance they’re dealing with acne.  If you’re a parent between the ages of 20 and 45, there’s also a chance that you’re still dealing with acne.  How is it possible that both parent and child can be dealing with acne at the same time, wasn’t this all supposed to magically go away when you left your teens?  There’s no magic cure to make pimples go away just yet, but with some chemistry you can save your face.

The three main players when it comes to acne are bacteria, sebum, and skin. When too much sebum is produced, it can block hair follicles. The sebum feeds the P. acnes bacteria which lives in those follicles. This bacteria build up, along with dead skin cells that get thrown into the mix, disrupts the follicle cells and triggers white blood cells to come to the rescue. Except these guys end up dying under the surface of your skin, leaving you with a nasty graveyard of bacteria, dead skin cells and white blood cells–AKA a big festering pus-filled pimple.

Androgens like testosterone are the main culprit for excess sebum secretion. This is why teenagers are the most common sufferers of acne. Their hormones are going crazy and excess androgens can trigger excess sebum to be produced.

But not to worry. Face washes and products that are cleansers or scrubs can help. Benzoyl peroxide is an antimicrobial agent that decrease P. acnes and it dissolves sebum. Salicylic acid loosens and removes the top layer of your skin and unclogs hair follicles, disrupting those perfect storm conditions that lead to pimples.

For more severe cases, talk to your doctor about antibiotics. The most common prescription medications include retinoids. They clean off dead skin cells, and have anti-inflammatory effects. However, they’ll most likely cause your acne to get worse before it gets better, but it will get better in time. Birth control is an option for cis women, as it regulates hormone levels.

We have a few other tips and tricks about reduce acne but for those, you’re gonna have to watch the video!

Categories: Science 101 + Mythbusting, Tweens + Teens