If pimples and acne scars on the face are bothering you, try putting some garlic juice or a mud pack. Or if you are game for medical help, laser treatment and chemical peels are an alternative, say dermatologists.
The acne problem usually starts around the age of 10-13. Though many get rid of it by their 20s, for some it lingers.
In teenagers, there are two things that trigger acne problem. First is hormonal changes in their body. In boys, it is the increased secretion of testosterone and in girls, the levels of both testosterone and oestrogen rises.
Due to these hormones the oil secretion in the body increases and the skin becomes oily and more prone to acne and breakouts. The other trigger for acne is bacterial infection.
About 90 per cent of teenagers suffer from acne in varying degrees of severity. It has a psychological effect on youngsters who want to have clean and clear skin.
Various medical and natural treatments are available.
"Medicated creams and face washes are there. Topical treatments for teenaged acne include benzoyl peroxide, sulphur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid are there. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found these effective for treating acne," said Meenakshi Agarwal, a Mumbai-based cosmetic surgeon.
If the condition worsens, doctors prescribe oral antibiotics for bacterial infection, hormonal pills and light therapy with lasers.
The lasers can cost Rs.5,000-Rs.10,000.
"Chemical peels and microdermabrasion are used to lighten post-acne scarring and cost anything between Rs.1,500 and Rs.3,000," said Indu Tolani, dermatologist, Clinic Dermatec.
Post-acne scars can be cleared by clean-ups with salicylic or glycolic acid at a clinic. Gentle exfoliation with these acids helps in taking out blackheads and whiteheads. Also, the skin becomes acidic and the bacteria doesn't grow in an acidic environment.
But she warns teenagers against random treatments at beauty salons, saying: "It is important that the clean-up should be undertaken under the guidance of a dermatologist in a clinic."
Some natural remedies like garlic juice, clay packs and lemon juice also help in avoiding acne and lightens scars.
To avoid acne, wash your skin twice a day. Make sure that you use a mild face wash that is meant for your skin type. Washing your face too frequently, especially with harsh cosmetics, can aggravate your acne. Try to avoid processed foods like white bread and noodles as they often trigger outbreaks.
"Use a face pack made of Fuller's earth (non-plastic clay or claylike earthy material) at least once or twice a week. This will help extract excess sebum and is therefore one of the best natural methods to treat acne.
"You can also apply a little garlic juice on your face, for about an hour at least once a week. Although garlic juice will kill off acne-causing bacteria, do not keep it for too long as it can aggravate sensitive skin," she added.
Mix equal parts of milk cream and lemon juice and apply on your face. The lactic acid and citric acid in these two (respectively) help in lightening the scars.
Tolani says natural remedies help, but medical treatments are more efficient.
"A lot of people try out natural, home-based remedies like clay packs to cut back the oil from their face. Some use gram flour to scrub away the debris and acne-laden skin, but these treatments are not sufficient and can't replace the efficacy of medical treatments," she said.