How to Treat Teen Acne
Along with the physically and often socially awkward stage your child faces as he exits childhood and enters puberty, he may have another challenge to overcome: teen acne. The American Academy of Dermatology says 85 percent of American teenagers get acne each year. The teenage years are associated with a sudden surge of hormones called androgens, which cause increased production of sebum (oily substance secreted by skin). Mix excess oil with dead skin cells and the bacteria normally on the face, and you have the perfect recipe for acne formation. The AAD warns resolution of acne takes time, and what works for one teen might not work for yours. It's best to treat teen acne early so your child can get a jump on a clearer complexion.
Purchase the right acne-fighting products. Mayo Clinic experts recommend that before you randomly toss an acne treatment into your shopping basket, you look at its active ingredients. Certain ingredients are more helpful than others. Effective ingredients to look for include benzoyl peroxide (ranked by the Mayo Clinic as most effective overall), salicylic acid or a combination of sulfur and resorcinol or alcohol and acetone.
Tell your teen to wash his face with a mild cleanser at least twice a day, as well as any time he is likely to sweat excessively. The old-school method of scrubbing the face with a coarse facial puff or wash cloth is verboten; instead, the AAD stresses washing the skin using only the fingertips and gently blotting it dry with a clean towel. Scrubbing the face may exacerbate oil production, making acne worse.
Select the right cosmetics or help your daughter select them. She may want to hide her acne under a thick mask of foundation and cream blush, but the AAD stresses some makeup products, especially those that are greasy or oily, make pimples worse. Encourage your teen to use makeup labeled "oil free" or "noncomedogenic," the latter meaning the product won't clog the pores.
Tell your teen to be patient rather than to expect a "quick fix." With any home treatment program, a teen may not notice improvement for between four and six weeks, notes the Mayo Clinic. Sometimes acne gets worse before it begins to clear up. If your teen has used drugstore products for two months without much success, it may be time to seek medical help.
Take your teen to a dermatologist when you know it's time. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says one myth about acne is that teens must simply let it run its course. If your teen has become shy or withdrawn or is embarrassed by her complexion, professional medical treatment can help. Additionally, severe acne--deep cysts and nodules--not only are painful but can result in extensive scarring. A dermatologist may simply prescribe a stronger topical medication; but there are also oral medications and in-office procedures, such as emerging treatments using pulsed light and lasers, that resolve acne.
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