Helping Your Teen with Acne – 8 First Steps
My children think I am obsessed with looking out for teens’ skin! They may be right. Acne is a problem that I care about! Having acne can be more than just a nuisance – it can seriously affect a kid’s self-esteem and cause lifelong scars. Let’s look at how to help your teen put their best face forward.
- Acne can be treated. Seriously, this is a fact that many parents are unaware of. Your teens do not have to suffer through acne – it can be treated and they can look great! Left untreated, acne can leave scars. Often mild acne responds well to over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide. Start using this, and if it’s not helping after 2 months, ask their pediatrician for help.
- That’s right – Get help from a pediatrician. Parents often ask for a referral to a dermatologist for their kids’ acne. You don’t need a specialist to treat most acne. Your pediatrician has all the tools and training needed to help your child and will know when a referral is needed. Think of it this way: Who sees more teens day in and day out and therefore sees more acne? Your pediatrician. We’ve got this one covered for you!
- It isn’t about dirt. You can’t scrub, peel, or wash acne away. In fact, all those over-the- counter scrubs and cleansing tools may make your teen’s acne look worse. Have them wash their face with a gentle soap like Cetaphil or Dove.
- It isn’t about what they eat. Shhhhhhh . . . Please don’t tell them this but they don’t have acne because of eating all that junk food. We can let them be motivated to eat well for the sake of their skin, though.
- Acne is caused by genetics and hormones. As hormones change in puberty, acne can be triggered. It often runs in families.
- Picking is the pits. Picking, popping, and squeezing will cause damage that makes even minor acne look awful. The red and dark marks left behind after this trauma to the skin can last for months. Let your teens know that if they stop picking at their skin, they’ll look better within a few months!
- Treatment requires patience. It will improve with treatment, but slowly. I often warn teens to not expect any change for months – even when they’re diligently using their medicine every day.
- There are many treatment options. From creams and gels to antibiotics and hormones, we have medicines that will help teens look and feel their best. After starting one medicine, check back with your pediatrician with a video visit in 2 to 3 months to see if a change should be made. Or, if a medicine that previously worked doesn’t seem to anymore, please let us know.
To understand more about what causes acne and how to treat it, see Acne in Teens on My Doctor Online.
Disclaimer: If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.