The Teen Acne Dilemma
Zit head. Pimple nose. Crater face. Sound familiar? These are just some of the dreadful names that today’s teenagers encounter in their daily lives behind the walls of any high school. As a mother of two lovely teenage daughters, I often witness the trauma and embarrassment that even a single pimple can evoke on their flawless complexions, particularly at special events such as a school dance or picture day. Though rendered harmless, the minor setbacks of a pimple (or two) can leave any teenager feeling distressed and immensely self-conscious, even to the point of skipping school. In reality acne is anything but a minor setback in our Western culture; it is a universal epidemic affecting approximately 85% of adolescent youth who suffer far beyond a pimple—or two.
Acne is an expected occurrence that arises with the onset of puberty, as unruly hormones surge and begin a cascade of chemical reactions displaying their peculiar effects on the skin. This transition in adolescent years is usually mild and harmless and tends to resolves itself by early adulthood once raging hormones have found their equilibrium. The evidence of this rising affliction points out that our teens are far from ending their acne nightmare—which paves the way for lowered self-esteem, an impaired social life, and bullying. It is disheartening to watch a generation of students hiding behind head-to-toe skin eruptions that have already left permanent scarring as a reminder of their relentless suffering. What was once considered a short-lived hormonal transition has reached new proportions—leaving our teens psychologically battered from the effects of chronic acne. As if being a teenager wasn’t challenging enough! So, this begs the question: what is fueling this outbreak—and, more importantly, how does one find relief? The most prevalent evidence points to the negative dietary habits our teens have embraced.
- Drinking plenty of pure water plays a crucial role in carrying nutrients to the cells, resulting in clearer skin while flushing out toxins.
- High quality protein found in eggs, tofu, chicken, and protein shakes is essential to tissue building and rapid cellular turnover in the skin.
- A high fiber diet consisting of low-glycemic legumes, whole unrefined grains, and vegetables will prevent colon stagnation, thereby reducing toxins which can lead to skin problems. Furthermore, fiber aids in correcting blood sugar irregularity that can often contribute to acne.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are vital to skin health through their anti-inflammatory action and are abundantly found in flaxseed oil, olive oil, avocados, walnuts and fish oils. Deficiencies in essential fatty acids can lead to overproduction of sebum, leading to acne.
- Other skin superstars include dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, berries, lemons, pomegranate, green tea and curcumin, which are free-radical scavenging and are full of liver detoxifying components; additionally, they provide a wide array of skin-protective nutrients, which include: vitamin A, C, E, zinc, and selenium (all needed in cell division, tissue repair, and overall functioning of the skin).
While maintaining good hygiene and reducing stress is equally important, the emphasis should always remain on one’s diet when dealing with inflammatory skin conditions such as acne. Becoming self-aware through understanding the effects of the foods we choose to consume can reward our teenagers with flawless skin for years to come.