The next installment to my Surviving the Teenage Years trilogy for Western Sydney Mum’s Hub is about dealing with acne.
The teenage years can be a trying time for parents, but often it is just as hard for the teenagers themselves. A common issue that many teenagers face is their skin health, with acne being such a problem for some that it significantly affects their self-esteem.
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- 36% of 4-7 year olds
- 28-61% of 10-12 year olds
- 79-95% of 16-18 year olds!
- 12% of middle aged women and 3% of middle aged men
Why do teenagers get acne?
The hormonal fluctuations can get a bit out of control during the teen years, and the levels of the hormones testosterone (present in both males and females) and insulin (related to diet, genetics and activity levels), nutritional status, immunity and genetic tendencies can make acne more prevalent.
As the hormone testosterone rises it causes an increase in oil production in the skin, and this oil feeds the bacteria that live in the pores. When the bacteria in the pores grow rampant they irritate the skin and pimples can become very red and sore.
You can help keep the testosterone more in control by eating foods rich in zinc, which is an essential mineral in testosterone metabolism. This mineral is also essential for skin healing, mood, immunity and general reproductive health. Zinc is high in oysters, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds wheatgerm, shellfish and fish, red meat, sesame seeds, pepitas, and almonds. Also important is keeping blood sugar levels stable by eating a low GI diet and exercising regularly.
If you are eating a lot of sugar, carbohydrates or refined foods then the hormone insulin becomes very high. This can then cause the testosterone to climb. It’s happening very frequently that teenagers are eating a lot more junk food, and this is making the problem worse.
Insulin resistance occurs when the body has been making a lot of insulin for a long time, and the cells begin to ignore it. As a result, you have a lot of insulin circulating around the body not doing what it’s meant to do, and it can cause other problems. High insulin causes high testosterone, which worsens acne in both boys and girls. In girls it can also contribute towards PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), a condition that affects ovulation. Acne is a common problem with PCOS, alongside hirsuitism (excess hair growth in unwanted areas).
In addition to that, there’s less exercise and activity happening, and that worsens the problem as well. Exercise is one of the best ways to manage insulin resistance. 150 minutes of exercise a week can be very helpful for this.
Read on for diet tips, herbal medicine and topical suggestions for acne: http://www.westernsydneymumshub.com.au/navigating-teenage-years-part-2/