The 'teenage curse' that men can carry into adulthood

The 'teenage curse' that men can carry into adulthood

Story in partnership with MOSH.

For most of us, our teenage years are something we look back on fondly. They were easier times. We had no bills, no responsibilities and, if we're being honest, few consequences for our actions. While we might not have realised it, we didn't have a care in the world.

But there are definitely things about our youth we're happy to leave behind. The awkwardness. The pressures to fit in. The hormones (and everything that comes with that!).

Mostly though, if there's one thing we'd all rather leave behind it is the pimples and acne. However, for many young men and women, it is something that continues into adulthood.

In fact, acne affects 85 per cent of Australians aged 15 to 24. For most people, it clears up within 8 to 10 years. But, for half of people affected, it continues into adulthood for some amount of time.

This is especially a problem for young men, who are often reluctant to see a doctor or seek treatments for their skin.

However, acne is a condition that should be taken seriously, Brisbane based GP Dr Scott Horsburgh says, and early intervention is key to treatment.

Dr Horsburgh has treated many patients with acne over the years. He now works with men's online health platform MOSH, where he helps blokes across the country with their acne, providing them with a discreet, convenient and easily accessible service.

He says acne can be highly distressing for sufferers, regardless of their age. It can also be quite extensive, covering their face, neck, back and even their chest in some cases. If left untreated it can have long term consequences.

Even with this knowledge many men still struggle to seek help. Sometimes, Dr Horsburgh says, this is due to bad experiences or failed attempts to get on top of it in the past.

"I think some patients think that they don't have their acne treated well and a lot of patients also don't realise what we can actually do about their acne," Dr Horsburgh explained.

"A lot think it's a normal part of their teenage years and therefore don't get it treated. But, left untreated acne can cause massive social anxiety in some people, (especially those) who don't want to go out and are trying to cover it up all the time," he continued.

"It can also cause discomfort and pain in some patients. In severe cases, it can even cause long term permanent scarring. So, I'm a big believer in treating people's acne well and with the right treatments."

Acne is an umbrella term for various conditions that affect the skin. Generally speaking, acne can be separated into inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne.

Whiteheads and blackheads are non-inflammatory acne and are considered less severe. It can usually be treated with topical and over the counter treatments.

Inflammatory acne, on the other hand, is considered more severe. It refers to inflammatory papules, pustules, nodules and cysts. It is also more likely to lead to scarring and changes in your pigment.

Acne occurs when excessive amounts of sebum (an oily like substance) are produced in the glands, causing the pores in your skin to get clogged.

Once the pore is blocked, the build up causes irritation and prompts your immune system to send bacteria to the area.

If the clogged pore becomes infected with bacteria, it forms a raised, red bump filled with pus. When the bacteria multiplies, it causes redness, swelling and inflammation.

Acne is generally understood to be caused by a combination of hormonal factors and genetics. However, external factors such as stress, using oily skin products, and dietary factors can also serve as triggers.

However, the reality, Dr Horsburgh says, is that every case of acne is slightly different. It's treatments and triggers vary from patient to patient. That's why you should speak to a doctor through MOSH, so they can find the right treatment for you. It's as easy as answering a few questions from your phone or computer, without having to physically see a doctor.

Generally speaking, he says, two of the best preventative steps most people can take to help treat their acne is daily facial cleansing and use of a light non-oily sunscreen.

"When it comes to treating acne I always tell my patients that I see it like a pyramid," he explained.

"Down the bottom would be daily cleansing and wearing sunscreen. Then would come your topical treatments. Then, on top of that, you can use low dose antibiotics. Above that would be a medication called Roaccutane," he continued.

"In conjunction with that, using an exfoliant once a week, using LED lights can be useful sometimes, and having facials can also be useful when treating acne as well."

Other things people should consider include, talking to a doctor or pharmacist to find a moisturiser that works with their skin; cutting down on sugar and dairy in their diet; and finding ways to manage stress, be it exercise, meditation or breathing exercises.

However, Dr Horsburgh stresses that acne is an individualised condition and there is no one size fits all solution for it. That's why, he says, it's important to seek professional help, whether that be through a platform like MOSH or a GP.

"If you're concerned about your acne you should consult your general practitioner, even people with mild acne... because it is much easier to treat things when they're less severe than when they're more severe," he said.

Dr Horsburgh also said it was important for people not to let their acne get out of control during the pandemic. Just because you may not want to go to your local GP Clinic, doesn't mean you're out of options.

"I know it's one of those things people are probably thinking, 'well, I'm not going to waste my doctor's time during COVID talking about my acne' or... are worried about even going into a medical clinic because they're worried about catching COVID... but that's where a service like MOSH can be very useful," he said.

"We can treat people discretely and they can talk to a doctor via tele-health about their acne."

MOSH gives men easy access to qualified doctors and clinical treatments, and it allows them to do it discreetly at a time that suits them.

Story in partnership with MOSH.

This story The 'teenage curse' that men can carry into adulthood first appeared on The Canberra Times.