Acne in Children
Acne during childhood is not exactly rare, but it's not common either. Why? Because children between the ages of 8 and 12 years--until the onset of puberty--only have inactive sebaceous glands, also known as oil glands. When puberty hits, the sebaceous glands become stimulated. Pores in the skin clog with oil, dead skin cells, some bacteria and other debris, forming pimples.
One theory presented on Acne Control, a website developed by Dr. Gavin Walker in the United Kingdom, is that acne in children indicates a medical problem. A review presented by the State University of New York confirms this, saying that earlier diagnosis and prompt treatment of children with acne will limit the "emotional distress and severe scarring in both the child and parents."
It is believed that acne in children can be caused by a few different factors: early onset of puberty, an underlying medical condition, an endocrine disorder or a tumor that stimulates hormones. Before your child is tested for any of these diseases or disorders, first be sure that he is not taking a medication that causes breakouts. According to Anderson Hills Pediatrics, a medical practice in Cincinnati and Amelia, Ohio, epilepsy drugs, steroids, anti-tuberculosis medications and some antidepressants can cause and exacerbate acne.
Between the ages of 8 and 10 years, about 40 percent of children begin developing some acne. The doctors at Anderson Hills Pediatrics indicate that many of these cases are inherited. If one or both parents had acne as a tween or preteen, that child's risk for developing acne is increased as well. And although acne at this age is more common in boys, girls are more likely to seek medical help for the condition.
Diagnosing acne is easy enough. So if your child's doctor suggests further testing, it's likely she suspects a medical disorder and will perform laboratory testing. Some symptoms your pediatrician will look for are persistent or chronic acne and breakouts that linger for longer than one or two weeks and stick around for a few months.
For acne caused by an early onset of puberty, the doctor will suggest that your child washes her face with a gentle cleanser twice daily to clean pores. Apply a spot-on treatment with benzoyl peroxide. You'll want to start with the lowest dose (2.5 percent) and only increase if the acne is persistent. For moderate acne, the doctor may prescribe Retin-A or Differin to apply to the lesions. Antibiotics can help control inflammation and reduce bacteria for kids with severe acne.
Just like with teens and adults, kids are at risk for scarring. Be sure to tell them that picking at and popping pimples will make their lesions worse. Other complications include excessive drying from benzoyl peroxide. If this happens, try lowering your child's dose or applying half as much of the medication.
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