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Back-to-school stress can trigger acne in teens

Break out of breakouts

The stress teenagers experience as they head back to school can sometimes leave its mark on their faces. Learn some tips to keep acne at bay or from getting worse.

Pumping oil

"Stress can be a catalyst for acne outbreaks because it makes the body produce greater quantities of androgen hormone, which in turn causes some skin glands to pump out more oil," says Dr Mary Christian, assistant professor of dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "Teens are more prone to this type of outbreak because of hormonal changes."

A pimple develops when skin cells are not sloughed off in an even manner and oil accumulates, causing bacteria to adhere to the sticky surface. The bacteria produce chemicals that can cause inflammation in the pore and surrounding skin.

Christian says following a simple cleaning regimen will help maintain clear skin.

Don't scrub too hard

Harsh scrubbing, especially with abrasive soaps or cloths, is not the answer to acne. Exfoliating too vigorously irritates the skin and produces more pore-clogging dead cells. "Anything that puts pressure on, or rubs the skin excessively will aggravate acne," says Dr Amit Pandya, associate professor of dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "This includes squeezing pimples, which may force the oil and bacteria into the deeper skin layers, making cysts more likely to occur."

Wash the face with a gentle cleanser in the morning and evening. Buy makeup and creams that are noncomedogenic -- won't clog pores -- and use them sparingly. And use over-the-counter medications containing benzoyl peroxide to dry up acne both at the surface of the skin and beneath.

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