Resolving Teenage Acne with Scaring
Alex’s mum contacted me as she was concerned about her son’s acne and scaring.
The acne was mainly on his back, but also on his face chest and there was some cystic acne present.
Alex’s acne had started when he was just 13 years and, as a keen rower with an athletic lifestyle, he had become very self-conscious of the problem.
They had been to see their doctor who had put Alex on Lymecycline (an antibiotic used to treat acne) in February 2017. Although this had helped, it hadn’t completely cleared the acne up and hadn’t helped with the scaring.
The only other option suggested was Ro-Accutane, an oral medication for treating acne and is usually given when all other medication has failed. Although the drug is very effective and can permanently get rid of acne, it has some horrific side effects.
Ro-Accutane works by reducing the Epidermis (the outer cells of your skin) from 14 layers down to 4. As the drug is taken orally it naturally has an impact through-out the body and can have unwanted side-effects. The one that worried me most is that in young teenage boys, it can induce severe depression and, knowing Alex was studying for his GCSE’s and experiencing increased stress levels, it would concern me if he was to take it. After sharing my knowledge and concerns regarding the drug Alex and his mum agreed it should be a last resort and they were happy for me to try and help them.
During Consultation I learnt that Alex had no skin routine or understanding of his skin’s function. His only action was to dab his skin once a day with Clearasil lotion. After examining his skin closely and taking some photographs, I discovered that there were a few infected cystic break-outs, (although some pores were heavily blocked), with several comedones, especially on his hair line, jaw and chin.
On his back there was mainly deep scaring which appeared slightly raised and bordering on keloid scaring.
My main concern was to control the cystic breakouts that were causing the scaring; clear the bacteria on Alex’s skin that was exacerbating the overall problem; whilst getting the oil secretions under control.
Acne skins produce thicker and stickier sebum (an oil-like substance produced by the sebaceous glands), so skin cells can over produce and not descremate [naturally shed] , therefore creating the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow in.
Acne is often a genetic disease passed down through generations, although it can sometimes miss generation. In puberty the disease can become aggressive and is also stimulated by stress.
When Alex and his mum came to see me, Alex was very aware of and concerned about the scaring on his back which, due to his sporting activity was often exposed in public. It saddened me that despite his success he had very low self-esteem.
Firstly, I needed Alex to understand why the acne was being caused and that he needed to keep his skin as bacteria free as possible to be able to control the oil secretions and encourage the cells to descremate. (this is desquamation – as in skin peeling/shedding)
I proposed that he needed a simple routine that would be easy to follow and give him instant results. The products I recommended he use would control the oil secretions and deep cleanse into the pores. I gave him “Surface Radiance Cleanse” which contains salicylic acid which has the benefit of penetrating the pore so cleansing from within, as well as AhA acids to gently exfoliate the dead skin cells without friction.
I explained that he needed to double cleanse morning and night, where the first cleanse washes away ‘the day’s’ grime and the second cleanse washes the skin – it’s a bit like sweeping the floor before you mop it. I gave him “Superfoliant” which would gently give that extra exfoliation to remove the excess skin cells that he was producing. In the morning he was to use “Balance Moisturiser” which would control the oil secretions. And at night a retinol lotion to promote new cell growth whilst helping lift the dead cells and help fade the scaring.
WITH ACNE WE FOLLOW THE LESS RULE – LESS FRICTION, LESS PRODUCT, LESS TOUCH
He would need to wash regularly after exercise. Not get his hair wax on his skin. Stick to this simple routine. Once we have the acne under control, we can then plan some peel treatments and needling to help reduce the scaring.
Alex said he had learnt a lot from his consultation, really liked my professional environment and reported that his skin felt very smooth and clean.
He confirmed that he had found the routine very easy to follow, my instructions very clear and his favourite product was of course “Radiance Surface Cleanse” – its every breakout sufferers favourite!!
At first Alex noted that his skin got worse, this can often happen as the congestion starts to clear and the skin starts to correct its hydration levels, then after the first week he started to see the improvement. After two weeks the breakouts had almost subsided.
He had used some of the products on his chest and back which had almost cleared up completely. Unfortunately, Alex was unable to make his 2-week review, so by his appointment on week 3 he had run out of product and the acne had started to flare up again. I therefore carried out a treatment immediately and was able to gently extract some of the blocked pores for him.
Alex is so happy with his results that he has decided not to take the Ro-Accutane. He purchased the “Radiance Surface Cleanse”, a slightly stronger retinol and an exfoliating body cloth.
I asked him to let me know when the breakouts had cleared, which should be within the next two weeks, which is when we could start a course of needling treatments to work on the scaring.
He thanked me for helping him and said he had learnt so much.