Overcoming Teen Acne

How to prevent and treat acne.

Teenage years are challenging in many ways, but one challenge for up to 70 to 90 percent of teenagers is treatable: acne. Acne is the result of clogged pores and over producing oil glands that can combine with dead skin cells to clog a pore, resulting in either a whitehead or blackhead, depending on whether the pore is open. Bacteria thrive in this sticky environment, and can also cause a local infection with redness and tenderness  in what is commonly known as a pimple. If a clogged pore bursts under the skin, it can cause a tender bump called a cyst, which can scar if not treated.

Tight helmets or headbands, as well as greasy lotions and oily makeup, can cause acne. Stress also can promote acne by increasing hormones that make it worse. Contrary to popular opinion, greasy foods, chocolate and soda do not cause acne.

Knowing how to treat acne at home versus when to see your doctor is important. To combat acne, wash the face with a gentle cleanser at least twice daily. Many over-the-counter medicines also are available. If your teen still struggles with acne after two months of daily cleansing and use of OTC medicines, contact the child’s doctor to talk about prescription-strength options. Benzoyl peroxide, retinoid products or antibiotics — and in severe cases — a medicine called isotretinoin (Accutane), may be prescribed.

By Dr. Shamieka Virella Dixon, Levine Children’s Hospital Teen Health Connection