Women’s health expert and author Marla Ahlgrimm understands all too well how acne can affect a person’s self-esteem. However, teenage girls may be especially affected by acne, and it all has to do with hormones. Acne vulgaris -- the clinical term for blemishes -- sounds scary but, fortunately, the condition is common and normal.
Q: What is acne?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Acne is simply the result of the body overproducing a natural oil, sebum, which prevents the skin from drying out. When there is too much, it causes dead skin to clump together, which can turn into a clogged pore. Another name for these facial blemishes is acne lesion. There are different types of acne lesions including cysts, nodules, papules, and pustules.
Q: What is the difference between hormonal acne and regular acne?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Hormonal acne is just acne. However, many people call it so because teenagers who are going through puberty tend to have breakouts more often than preadolescents or adults.
Q: What does acne look like?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Acne often presents on the face, back, shoulders, and chest. It can be a blackhead or whitehead, which typically do not hurt and are not swollen, or a red and irritated lesion that may be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Acne is most common on the forehead and nose thanks to higher levels of sebum in this “T-zone.”
Q: How are hormones related to skin problems like acne?
Marla Ahlgrimm: When a girl is going through puberty or when a woman is pregnant or menstruating, her body produces hormones in different levels than normal. This can increase the amount of sebum in the skin, and specifically around hair follicles. Women going through menopause and those who are under a great deal of stress may also be prone to acne.