Having problematic skin in your teenage years can be one of the most significant causes of depression, anxiety and even fear of going out in public. Not only do they have to deal with the tidal wave of hormones but the saturation in social media of people with perfect skin can leave our children with little self-esteem. So what is really going on with teenagers having skin issues and is there anything that can be done to help it?
Our skin is a portrait of our internal health. What is happening on the inside of our bodies can also impact how we look. The skin is the largest organ in the body and interacts with every other organ in the body through both physiological and pathological pathways. It’s purpose is to provide protection from the external environment, and consists of three primary layers.
Epidermis Our outermost layer of our skin consisting of five separate layers.
Dermis Forms the structural foundation of the skin, supporting its superficial layers, with connective tissue such as collagen and elastin.
Subcutaneous layer Deep subcutaneous adipose layer; acts as a storage area for fat.
Exfoliation The epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin packed with dead skin cells and a protein called keratin (this protein gives hair and nails strength). At this stage the cells are devoid of water, have no blood supply and even a nucleus. Their primary role is to protect internal structures from trauma, insulate our body from the environment and to protect us from pathological microorganisms. In this layer of skin, the cells are constantly shedding off while new cells are being formed in the deeper layers of the skin thanks to a process called mitosis or cell division. The complete life cycle of a cells from being formed in the Stratum Basale layer rising up through the other layers until it reaches the surface and finally sheds off is called desquamation and can take from 25-45 days. This process of shedding off the outer layers of the skin is what we call exfoliation.
Exfoliation is a term that is often used in beauty treatments and it refers to either a chemical of physical agent that is used to help promote the shedding of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. A physical agent is usually in a granular form and feels a little like sand from the beach. Simply apply this product and massage it around the face or body and the friction will assist in the removal of these dead skin cells. The other is a Chemical agent like an AHA or BHA based product. This means Alpha Hydroxy Acid or Beta Hydroxy Acid. These Acids which are used in many products including chemical peels eat away at the dead skin cells to reveal younger more vibrant cells.
What is the benefit of removing dead skin cells?
By removing dead skin cells there is less opportunity for these dead skin cells to block sweat pores. When these pores are blocked, they form pimples which is a leading cause to teenagers having problematic skin. The second reason is these pores excrete sweet (sebum) onto the surface of the skin to assist with thermoregulation of the body however one ingredient excreted from our own bodies is ammonia although it is in very small concentrations.
Skin Microflora After the gut, the skin has the most amount of microorganisms and most of which are bacterial, fungal and mites. These microorganisms reside in healthy people as well as unhealthy and can at times benefit us. Thee are grouped into three groups. It is interesting to note that initial colonization of a newborn baby’s skin happens during birth.
Commensals Organisms that reside on our skin;
benefiting from us, but we do not benefit from them
Symbionts Microorganism and humans both benefit
Pathogens Microorganism benefits while causing disease to the human.
Hormones Hormones are a leading cause of problematic skin as with many other conditions that many of us parents would be able associate with. During the teenage years, that amount of sebum doubles which when combined with dead skin cells creates the bulk of skin related concerns.
Skin Care Routine for a teenager
Now that we know some of the basic principles behind the causes of problematic skin, we can start a skin care routine that will assist. If you want beautiful skin these are the steps I would recommend and in this order.
Drink plenty of water -a minimum of 2 liters per day
Healthy diet – Focusing on the Food Pyramid – try to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in your diet
Exercise – It is so important to stay active during teenage years.
A Mild Granular exfoliant – Use this product one a week to remove dead skin cells, This step alone will improve the overall appearance of your skin.
Moisturise – I would recommend this for both males and females morning and night.
Sunscreen – Prior to going out in the sun and use a SPF 50+.
Trying to get teenagers to do anything can be hard enough but to look after their skin may be even harder. They will not place much priority on their skin health now but as they age what they do know will impact on how they look when they are older and have less options to be able positively impact on their skin health.
For people who have a good skin care routine and are till struggling with their skin, there is a product called Phisohex available at most chemists which is a Ph neutral anti-bacterial wash which is perfect for problematic skin. Lastly many good salons have a High Frequency machine. This machine has a glass tube filled with argon gas. When electricity is added it produces Ozone which has a germicidal effect on the skin, reducing bacteria. This procedure only lasts a few minutes and is not painful.
There is little use on trying to fix problematic skin without drinking plenty of water, having a healthy diet and exercise regularly. This is the foundation of not only good health but promoting skin health.
Finally, the most beautiful teenagers that I know are kind, considerate, respectful and most importantly do what their parents ask of them.
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