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Making the right choice

When the first pimples appear on the face at the onset of puberty, it is not yet a dramatic event. But it’s a different story when acne develops. A nightmare for teenagers. Self-medication is only possible and sensible for mild forms.
Marta Campbell
05.08.2021  09:00 Uhr

Flawless, well-tended skin is con­sidered a sign of attractiveness and health. This makes it all the worse for many young people in puberty when impure skin and pimples are booming. About 70 to 95 percent of this age group suffer from acne vulgaris, male adolescents far more frequently than females. Whether and how many pimples a person develops and in which form seems to be hereditary, the pathomechanism is complex.

One thing is certain: hormones, especially androgens, play a role. The body produces more of these in both sexes during puberty. The male sex hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands in the face, the décolleté and back to increase the fat production. It varies from person to person as to how sensitive the sebaceous glands react to the hormones. The androgens also ensure that the hair follicle openings keratinise stronger and prevent the excess sebum from flowing off. The backlog causes blackheads (comedones) to form. Bacteria – including propionibacteria – multiply, the skin becomes inflamed and nodules and pustules develop. Doctors divide acne into different degrees of severity depending on the clinical picture. The most severe form is cystic acne (acne conglobata), which results in cysts and painful nodules and very often leaves scars.

Sensible care

An important step is to get the very oily skin under control. The daily care should therefore be as oil- and grease-free as possible. The ingredients to which people react with skin impurities vary from person to person. Coconut oil, olive oil or Vaseline, for example, can cause problems. To keep the skin moist, it is best to use light gels or day creams that do not leave an oily film or residue on the skin.

Strongly degreasing or de-oiling agents as well as skin tonics with alcohol should be avoided. They stress the skin and can actually fuel sebum production. Mild syndets are available as alternatives. Face and whole-body peelings, for example, with alpha-hydroxy acids (= AHA, for example with glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid and mandelic acid) or beta-hydroxy acids (= BHA, for example salicylic acid), counteract the hornification of the pores. The ingredient panthenol promotes wound healing and also soothes inflammation. Some patients have good experiences with anti-inflammatory zinc ointment. Taken orally as a dietary supplement, zinc is also said to relieve acne. Fragrances, UV light and other irritants can increase sebum production.


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