Acne and adolescents

More than 80% of teenagers experience acne. The bad news is that there is no cure. The good news is that it usually clears up as your teen gets older.

Contrary to what most people believe, acne is not caused by chocolate, fried foods or anything else in a teenager’s usual diet. It’s not the result of constipation, nor is it a sign of sexual activity or the lack of it. Instead, it’s caused by increased levels of certain hormones.

Acne often runs in families. Most cases are mild, and pimples don’t usually leave permanent scars if the lesions are left alone. Talk to your pediatrician about the best way to treat acne for your teen. Keep in mind that the goal of treatment is to reduce the severity of lesions rather than make them disappear completely.

The following are things to keep in mind no matter what treatment your teen uses:

  • Give each treatment enough time to work. It may take three to six weeks or longer before you see a change, and maximum improvement may not occur until around 12 weeks.
  • Follow directions. Incorrect use can result in treatment failure or troublesome side effects.
  • Don’t overdo it. Too much scrubbing or squeezing an acne lesion actually makes it worse.
  • Avoid products that make acne worse. If your teen uses makeup or moisturizers, choose oil-free products labeled as “won’t block pores,” “nonacnegenic,” or “noncomedogenic.”
  • It’s only temporary. Most teens get some acne at some point, and there are a lot of treatment options to keep it under control.

M. Andrew Wills, MD, is a pediatrician with Clemson-Seneca Pediatrics. Learn more about Clemson-Seneca Pediatrics or find another Prisma Health Children’s Hospital–Upstate pediatrician near your work or home at ghschildrens.org/pediatricians. You also can call 1-844-447-3627 for help connecting with a pediatrician

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