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Zits (acne)

Puberty; pore; bacteria; zit; pimple; blackhead; skin; acne ;


acneSometimes life seems to be really unfair.

Just when you start growing out of your clothes as fast as you get them,
when you start to get all emotional about everything,
when you're starting to think about Secondary school,
when you're beginning to experience sexy feelings:

Heaps of other people don't seem to have them, but you do!

Why you?

What causes zits? 

  • Heredity. You inherit genes from your parents. This means that if they got pimples at your age you probably will too.
  • Puberty. The time when your body starts changing from child to adolescent.

What happens?

acneUnder your skin there are glands which make oil to keep your skin healthy.

At puberty these glands work harder making more oil which comes up through the tiny holes (pores) in your skin.

Sometimes germs [bacteria] get into the pores, making the oil thicker and harder so that it blocks the pore.

This may be black at the top (blackhead), white (white-head) or it can be a sore (red with white pus).

Sounds pretty gross doesn't it?

How to avoid zits

acneThe simple truth is that you can't avoid them completely (even if you managed to get yourself born to completely 'zit-free' parents!)

Boys get them more than girls do and girls tend to get them around the time of their period.

What you can do

  • Wash your skin with soap and water or cleanser morning and night. Washing more often just gets your body to make more oil! Or it can dry out your skin making it red, flaky and itchy.
  • hygieneKeep your hair clean and off your face.
  • Try not to touch the pimples - don't squeeze them.
  • Try not to worry about them - remember that nearly everyone else gets zits sometimes.
  • Try to get some fresh air and sunlight (not too much and remember your sun screen and hat).
  • Use sunscreens with an alcohol base rather than cream, which can make things worse.
  • Try to get regular exercise, sleep and a balanced low fat diet.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Stay away from cigarette smoke as it can irritate your skin.

Research has not been able to prove that certain foods cause acne, but if you think it is worse when you have been eating something like chocolates go easy on the chocolate and see what happens.

What you can use

acne There are a lot of acne products around in the chemist shop (pharmacy) and the supermarket but it is probably a good idea that you have a talk with the chemist before you start using any of them. acne
  • You can use astringents or alcohol based skin cleansers twice a day. These will open the pores, clean and dry the skin and let the oil flow more freely.
  • You can use acne lotions. These will only work if you use them for several weeks. You need to read the instructions carefully as some can make your skin sore if you go into the sun. Once a pimple has started no lotions will stop it from growing, but lotions sometimes stop it from coming.
  • You can use 'common sense'. Get into a routine of cleansing, lotion, and sunscreen so that you are giving yourself a good chance of clearing up those Zits
  • You can use patience. They won't go overnight.
  • Check with your pharmacist. She or he may be able to suggest some treatments you could try. Cheaper treatments often work as well or better than expensive ones.
  • You can ask your doctor for antibiotics or other medications if you find that you are one of the people who need extra help.
  • Your doctor may suggest that you see a skin specialist (a dermatologist).

What can make acne worse?

  • acneScratching, squeezing or picking at the pimples
  • High humidity, when it's one of those hot and sticky days.
  • Stress, getting all uptight about things sometimes makes it worse.
  • Oily make-up, hair oil, hair gels and sprays.
  • Some medicines.
  • For some girls they get worse around the time that their period starts - sadly there is not anything you can do about this.

The more you worry about acne the worse it can seem so just get into a routine doing all the things you can do and then get on with your life!

You've got far more interesting things to do than worry about 'zits.'

If you've got a special occasion and a zit turns up then you can always use a tinted acne cream to try and cover it up.

Dr Kate say

Dr Kate
"Keep your skin clean, eat well and exercise. Try to forget about pimples, you have lots more interesting things to think about.

Remember that you notice your own zits more than anybody else does!"


Just when I want to look great,
When I want to feel really 'ace',
Out pop those horrible pimples
And completely cover my face.

Mum says that everyone gets them,
And they'll all be gone 'one day',
But, oh, why couldn't that 'one day'
Be now! Right now! Today!

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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