When Does Oily Skin Stop for Teens?
Oily skin and acne blemishes are skin problems that many teenagers face. Changes in the body during the adolescent years trigger oil glands on the face, chest and back to temporarily work overtime. This causes oily skin and leads to blocked pores and acne. Natural skin oils help keep the complexion healthy and protected throughout life, but even adults can experience an imbalance in oil production at one time or another.
Your teenager's oily skin is linked to the many changes in her body during the adolescent years. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases notes that one important factor causing oily skin is an increase in male sex hormones called "androgens." These hormone levels rise in both girls and boys as they go through puberty 2. Androgens help orchestrate growth and development in the body, but they also cause the oil-producing sebaceous glands in the skin to enlarge. This leads to a higher production of sebum, or oil, making skin appear greasy and shiny.
Greasy skin is not caused by a lack of washing or being "dirty." In fact, if your teen scrubs her face too zealously, it can irritate the skin and trigger the sebaceous glands to produce even more oil. Skin type is also linked to genetics; oily skin and related skin conditions such as acne tend to run in families. MayoClinic.com notes that in some cases, diet can also affect how oily the skin is 1. Eating a diet that is high in dairy foods and carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta and chips can raise blood sugar levels, which boosts androgen hormone production.
Assure your teenager that her excessively oily skin will improve as she gets older. Androgens and other hormones tend to balance out after puberty. However, hormonal fluctuations occur throughout life and can trigger oily skin and acne in some people. Changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and perimenopause can also trigger oil production and acne. Additionally, beginning or stopping some types of birth control pills can cause oily skin as hormone levels spike temporarily. Depending on her skin type, your teen may still have oily or combination (both dry and oily) skin after her teenage years and must continue to care for her skin accordingly.
Oily skin can worsen if your teen uses skin care products and cosmetics that contain oils or too much moisture. It is important to properly cleanse and moisturize oily skin for a healthy and blemish-free complexion. Look for skin care products that are noncomedogenic and made for teenage acne-prone skin. This means that they gently cleanse without stripping the skin and moisturize with a light oil-free lotion. The good news is, later in life, oily skin types are generally more resistant to fine lines and wrinkles than dry skin types.
- MayoClinic.com: Acne Causes
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: Questions and Answers About Acne
- TeenHealthFx: Does Oily Skin Go Away?
- Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, Alikhan A, Baldwin HE, et. al. "Guidelines of Care for the Management of Acne Vulgaris." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2016; 74(5):945-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037
- Gerson, Joel, Janet DAngelo, Shelley Lotz, and Sallie S. Deitz. Miladys Standard Esthetics: Fundamentals. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar, 2009.
- Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images