Health and Wellness

Clearing Up Your Teen’s Acne Questions

The teen years can be rough, even for parents. On top of navigating mood swings and newfound independence, you may also have to manage your child’s skin issues. About 85% of teens will get acne according to UC Davis Health, starting at age 11 for girls and a few years later for boys. And acne can last well into the 20s if proper medical attention isn’t taken into consideration. Here’s the latest on what you need to know to help your teen manage this phase with minimal trauma (to both of you).

Why do teens get acne?

Blame it on hormones. Acne is caused by overactive oil glands in the skin. This causes oil to build up, trapping dead skin cells and bacteria, which leads to swelling and redness of the pores. Those oil glands are stimulated by hormones, specifically androgens, a group of sex hormones that occur in both girls and boys during puberty. While acne is most visible on the face, it can appear anywhere on the skin. It’s not uncommon for teens to also have body acne on the back, chest, and butt.

What types of acne can a teen get?

Is it OK for your teen to pop a pimple?

Popping pimples often leads to more skin problems, not less. While it might seem like an easy and fast fix, doing so may push bacteria deeper into the skin and that can create more pimples, skin irritation, or scarring.

Can you prevent acne?

There’s no way to completely prevent acne, but there are strategies that may reduce the amount of breakouts your teen has. For any type of acne (face or body), have your teen try these strategies, recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Wash the face and body twice a day to remove oil and dead skin cells from the pores.
  • Shampoo hair daily to prevent oil build up around the hairline.
  • Wash face or shower immediately after exercise or physical activity, as sweat can clog pores.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and tanning beds, especially if your teen is on medication, which can make skin more sensitive to harmful UV rays.
  • Use alcohol-free skin care products, which are less irritating to sensitive skin.
  • When using a face or body wash, skip exfoliators and abrasive formulas. Instead, use a gentle cleanser with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid and apply it with hands instead of a washcloth. Rinse with lukewarm water.
  • Try not to touch the face or areas of the body that suffer from acne during the day. This will only add more bacteria to the skin and exacerbate acne and breakouts.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothes, which may rub against and irritate body acne.
  • If your teen wears make-up, choose an oil-free or non-comedogenic product that won’t clog their pores.

When is it time to consider medical treatments?

It can be difficult to determine how severe your teen’s acne is. But according to StatPearls, even mild cases of acne can cause mental health concerns, including a lack of self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. It’s worth noting that mental health issues are more prevalent in girls. In a study conducted by Lady Reading Hospital, out of 50 acne patients, 19 (38%) reported suffering from depression, and most were girls. In some cases, certain types of acne or the lack of following through with a treatment plan can lead to scarring, which may also contribute to poor mental health. It’s important to take acne seriously. If your teen’s skin doesn’t clean up after following the suggestions above, connect with a healthcare professional. They’ll recommend over-the-counter products or write a prescription to incorporate into your teen’s daily skin care routine.

And it’s easy—you can open the app and start a visit within seconds.

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