What is a pimple? Is it dirty skin? A reaction to cosmetics? A disease? Well in a way, it’s all of that and much more. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects about 40 to 50 million Americans at any one time. The acneic condition presents itself in four grades (I – IV), with increasing levels of severity. But even healthy skin can even experience pimples, since the hormonal signals that trigger oil production and inflammation are easily stimulated by changes in diet, psychological stress and puberty. And since puberty means a time of growth and changes, the skin is also growing and maturing and may not be able to handle the extra oil produced that leads to clogged follicles. A clogged follicle is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive and cause inflammation, which is compounded by the elevated sebum produced during puberty.

At the onset of puberty, hormones from the hypothalamic region of the brain and the pituitary gland trigger the production of testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls to initiate sexual maturation. An unfortunate side effect is the surge in sebum production in many. For girls, this cyclic pattern may even progress into adulthood. However, teenage acne is different than adult acne. While adult acne affects mostly women, and it is characterized by larger, more inflammatory papules with no comedones, teenage acne can present comedones, papules, pustules, cysts, nodules and is not typically cyclical. In addition, hygiene can play a major role, as proper skin care may be lacking or underdeveloped.

This is why it’s imperative to teach young teens about proper daily skin care, introducing cleansing, hydrating and treating as part of their regimen. Another aspect of educating is reversing some of the misconceptions about acne that adolescents tend to have – whether it’s scrubbing away all oils with harsh scrubs, tanning to ‘clear’ acne, picking at their skin, and a host of other skin sins.

In your treatment room, look for multitasking products that minimise breakouts without irritating or drying out the skin as many acne-controlling products in the market tend to do. By reducing hyperkeratinisation, minimising bacterial infection, controlling inflammation, and most importantly hydrating, you’ll provide a service not only for the short-term pubertal acne woes, but also for the long-term skin health goals of your future return client.