Best for teenage acne


Best Acne Treatments for Teens

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Almost all teens get acne (eight out of ten, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics), but that’s little comfort when a pimple pops up right before school picture day or you’re regularly dealing with blackheads.

Acne is common among teens and young adults because hormones can also trigger excess sebum, or oil gland, production, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. That oil, along with dead skin cells, can clog pores. When pores are clogged, bacteria (most notably Propionibacterium acnes) can get trapped and multiply, resulting in the redness and inflammation that’s the start of acne breakouts.

Depending on the severity of acne, a combination of at-home care and a visit to the dermatologist can help treat breakouts in teenage skin, according to Arielle Panarello, medical aesthetician at Union Square Dermatology in New York City.

“Salicylic acid, sulfur wash, and a form of vitamin A work best for acne-prone skin,” says Panarello, who stresses the importance of consulting a dermatologist for teenage acne issues. “Aestheticians and dermatologists can work together in creating a comprehensive regimen to get the best results quickly and to also prevent any scarring from lingering acne.”

Panarello also recommends a simple skincare regimen below:

Morning Use a gentle cleanser with salicylic acid or sulfur to rid skin of dirt and impurities and bacteria, mild alcohol-free toner, light moisturizing emulsion or gel, and a sunscreen that is specifically designed for acne-prone skin such as Elta MD clear formulation.

Night Cleanse, tone, topical vitamin A over-the-counter treatment or a dermatologist-prescribed moisturizer.

“It is a common misconception that oily and acne-prone skins shouldn’t use a moisturizer, I can’t stress enough how important this step is to the healing of the skin,” says Panarello.

Here are some products to consider for teenage, acne-prone skin.

Pimples are par for the course during teenage years, thanks to hormonal changes that increase the skin’s oil production during puberty. That oil mixes with dead skin cells on the body and clogs pores, trapping bacteria inside. Then, pop! There comes a pimple.

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While some teens escape with only mild blemishes that are relatively inconsequential, others experience acne so severe that it leaves them with physical — and sometimes even emotional — scars.

Acne can start as early as age 9 or 10 and last all the way through adulthood. It often starts as clogged pores (called comedones) on the forehead or along the T-zone that become inflamed and appear as small bumps.

To keep the damage to a minimum, you’ll want to address your teen’s acne as early as possible, says Vickie Baker, MD, a family medicine doctor who specializes in dermatology. But that doesn’t necessarily mean running to the doctor for a prescription the moment a few zits appear.

Treating acne over-the-counter

If your teen has large, red pimples that look like cysts or cause pain, over-the-counter treatments aren’t going to help, Dr. Baker says. The best course of action is to see a doctor.

For other types of blemishes. Dr. Baker recommends starting with one of these acne treatments available without a prescription:

A face wash that contains an acne-fighting medication. This could be either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is good for more sensitive skin, Dr. Baker says, and tends to be effective at exfoliating blocked pores. Teens with sensitive skin could also start with a lower percentage of benzoyl peroxide, which kills bacteria and removes excess oil from the pores.

The best face wash for oily acne skin would be a higher percentage benzoyl peroxide formula, between 5 and 10 percent.

A gel that went over-the-counter in 2016. Adapalene is a topical gel that’s applied once a day to unblock pores and control inflammation.

To give these treatments the best opportunity to work, your teen needs to use them regularly for about three months.

“A lot of teens don’t understand that you have to be regimented about it, just like brushing your teeth every night,” Dr. Baker says. “You have to wash your face in the morning and at night, because when you wash it you’re treating it with medicine that’s going to help your acne.”

If the blemishes don’t seem to be under control after three months, it’s time to make an appointment.

Many pediatricians are comfortable treating acne, Dr. Baker says, so that’s likely the best place to start. He or she can refer your teen to a dermatologist, if necessary.

Doctor’s orders

What pediatricians or dermatologists recommend for acne depends on the individual patient as well as what his or her insurance will cover.

As a general rule, Dr. Baker says, a doctor will prescribe something to control the bacteria and inflammation, such as benzoyl peroxide or a topical antibiotic called clindamycin, as well as something to unblock pores, such as adapalene or tretinoin.

Each teen reacts differently to his or her acne: While some will feel self-conscious, others might hardly even notice it. Either way, it’s important to take it seriously and work with a pediatrician or dermatologist to find a treatment that helps clear the skin, prevent scarring and avoid emotional distress.

Acne is a common condition faced by many teenagers. Although most teens will have acne at some point, your teen still may be embarrassed by it. As a parent or guardian, it is important to take your teen’s feelings about acne seriously. Acne can cause low self-esteem and lead to distress in teens. Helping your teen with acne management can make this time less stressful and decrease the long term effects of acne.

You and your teen can follow these 12 tips to help manage or eliminate his or her acne:

  1. Have your teen use over-the-counter acne products, and wash problem areas with a gentle cleanser twice daily.
    Look for products that contain topical benzoyl peroxide as the main active ingredient. Apply cleanser with fingertips, and rinse skin with lukewarm water.
  2. After washing the skin, treat with a tropical product containing adapelene.
    Adapelene is helpful in unclogging pores and preventing new breakouts. A pea-sized amount should be applied to the entire face, avoiding easily irritated areas, such as the eyes and mouth. It also can be applied to the chest and back, if needed.
  3. Avoid facial scrubs, astringents and masks, as well as excessive scrubbing and washing.
    This can irritate the skin and worsen acne.
  4. Remind your teen to use their acne treatment, but be careful to only remind them occasionally.
    A small study shows that fewer reminders from parents are more effective than reminding your child each day, which can be viewed as nagging.
  5. Do not touch or pick at problem areas.
    This can trigger acne, lead to infections and cause scarring.
  6. Your teen should use shampoo every day.
    This is especially needed if he or she has oily hair or problem areas around the hairline.
  7. Shower after activities that cause sweat and oil production.
    Exercising and wearing a hat or helmet can increase sweat and oil production.
  8. Treat acne early.
    It is easier to treat a few pimples than a breakout. Early treatment can also help prevent acne in adult years and reduce scars.
  9. Protect skin from the sun.
    Sun exposure can make acne worse, and some medications make skin susceptible to the sun’s rays. If your teen is planning to be in the sun, have them apply a nonoily moisturizer that includes sunscreen.
  10. Avoid excessive amounts of cosmetics.
    Cosmetics can cause pores to clog and worsen acne.
  11. Protect skin from items that create friction or cause pressure.
    Phones, helmets, backpacks, and tight collars and straps are examples.
  12. Help your teenager manage and reduce stress,
    Stress can cause acne to flare.

If your teen has tried over-the-counter acne products for several weeks and has not seen improvements, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or pediatrician who can prescribe stronger medications and help with treatment options.

Information adapted from the American Academy of Dermatology

Dr. Manjunatha is a pediatrician in Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

28 Brilliant Tween And Teenage Skincare Products

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Their skin (and hormones/emotions) are all over the place and they need a teenage skin care routine especially suited to their needs.

We’ve rounded up the best skincare for tween and teenage skin which, when coupled with a healthy diet, not eating too much sugar and not smoking can prevent or reduce the anxiety that comes with acne.

While researching – and before buying – the best skincare products for teens, it’s important to understand your skin type.

Combination Skin

Blemishes, large-pores and oily skin in the T-zone (the forehead, eyebrows, nose and chin). Your cheeks are dry and sometimes tight.

Oily Skin

Your skin is shiny and has large pores. This skin type is most likely to have teenage acne and blackheads on the forehead, nose, chin, upper chest area or back.

This happens because sebum (oil) production is working harder than necessary, usually due to hormonal changes during puberty (and a reason why a teenager skin care routine is important).

Sensitive Skin

Tender and delicate skin with small pores which is especially sensitive to environmental influences and stress.

Using the wrong products can result in anything from redness to feelings of tightness right through to allergic reactions. Spots are less common and rough flakes often appear on the skin.

Normal Skin

Unusual in teens and characterised by naturally matte, smooth and clear skin. You might get a spot every now and then, but that’s absolutely natural when you’re a teenager, as they are caused by hormones.

Pores are small and the skin has a good balance between dry and oily as your sebum production is optimal.

When it comes to teen skin care products, Dr Amy Bibby, hospital Doctor and Head of Operations at Qured advises:

“Quick fixes are hard to find when it comes to dealing with acne prone skin. A common skincare for teenage skin myth is that toothpaste helps to dry up facial spots. However, this could actually have the reverse effect.

Toothpaste contains fluoride and whitening ingredients which can seriously irritate the skin and lead to allergic reactions.

Some well-known advice for teenage acne involves keeping your face and hands clean, avoiding touching your face, drinking lots of water and maintaining a healthy diet.

But if nothing seems to be working then topical treatments are a good next step, you should go to see your GP who can give you advice on what to do, or, provide you with a prescription.

The aim is to kill bacteria on the surface of the skin and reduce the appearance of comedones, also known as whiteheads or blackheads.

Things that produce this type of acne are called ‘comedogenic’.

When looking for teen beauty products, try to find ones that are labelled ‘non-comedogenic’.

An integral part of skin care for teenagers should include washing your makeup off before going to the gym and sweating so that your pores do not block up.”

A good teenage skincare routine needs to be proactive. Try to stop spots before they arrive by:

  • Cleaning your makeup brushes regularly
  • Changing your pillowcases every week – clean cases = clearer cheeks
  • Always take your makeup off before going to bed. Use cleanser not cleaning wipes.

Teenage Skin Care Reviews:

1. NIP+FAB Teen Skin Fix Salicylic Acid

An addition to the already popular Teen Skin Fix range, the new Nip + Fab Salicylic Acid range helps exfoliate and soothe. It’s anti-inflammatory, unclogs congested pores with Salicylic Acid and, in our opinion, is home to some of the best teenage skin care products,

Dermatologists and industry experts all agree that Salicylic Acid is the must-have ingredient you need to tackle spot-prone oily, combination and blemish-prone teenage skin.

2. La Roche Posay Effaclar

The La Roche Posay Effaclar range is enriched with thermal spring water and each product maintains skin’s moisture whilst targeting breakouts and reducing the appearance of shiny, oily skin and enlarged pores.

The three step system is a good intro to the range and is suitable for sensitive and prone to allergic reactions skin. Lots of mums say they love Effaclar Foaming Gel as an introductory cleanser for teenage skin.

3. Dermalogica Clear Start

Blackhead-prone skin will love the Dermalogica Clear Start Breakout Clearing Booster, especially designed to tackle areas like a problematic T zone.

It’s formulated with powerful Salicylic Acid and is one of the best products for teenage blackheads.

It helps to clear impacted follicles, has niacinamide to reinforce skin’s barrier, and Seaweed- derived Chondrus Crispus Extract to soothe and lock in moisture.

It wipes out breakout-causing bacteria in only 15 minutes, working with the skin’s natural microbiome to balance and help prevent over-drying.

Follow up with their Blackhead Clearing Fizz Mask, an especially formulated face wash for teenagers.

It has a unique fizzing technology to target and eliminate stubborn blackheads before they become a breakout.

The product activates upon application to open pores, dissolve and clear any congestion and blackheads, whilst botanicals work to combat dryness.

Sulfur has anti-microbial benefits, Kaolin Clay will absorb excess oil and Apple Fruit Extract helps balance and hydrate so skin is left feeling clean, smooth and refreshed.

4. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

The award winning and best-selling Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is famed for its ability to help dry up surface blemishes overnight.

It’s a fast-acting, effective spot treatment specially formulated with Salicylic Acid, Sulphur, and Zinc Oxide to help draw impurities from the skin and target pesky problems while you sleep.

5. Sebiaclear from Laboratoire SVR

French pharmacy brands are beloved by beauty experts due to their simple yet highly effective products.

The Sebiaclear range from Laboratoire SVR is an anti-blemish skin care range with concentrated active ingredients for pimples and blackheads.

The formulas contain a powerful duo of anti-blemish active ingredients: gluconolactone, a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and niacinamide which has incredible antibacterial and sebum-regulating properties.

There are eight multi benefit products in the range: keratolytic; anti-inflammatory; antibacterial, sebum-regulating, anti-marks, moisturising and mattifying.

6. The Body Shop Tea Tree Range

An oldie but a goodie, the Tea Tree range from The Body Shop is one of the best skincare brands for teenage skin for a reason – they work!

Tackle blemishes, blackheads and oily skin with the cleansing power of natural tea tree, clinically proven to give clearer skin from one week.

Our favourite product is the Facial Wash – 100% vegan, it’s one of the best face wash for teenage skin as it deeply cleanses blemished skin and removes impurities and excess oil, leaving skin feeling purified.

Skin Care Tip

How clean is your phone? Every time you go out (think school, college and work) you’re touching dirty things and using those hands to navigate your phone.

All the bacteria from your hands love the warm surface of your phone’s screen so use an antibacterial wipe once a week to clean your screen.”

7. ELEMIS Superfood Skincare

ELEMIS’ Superfood Skincare Range is a nutrient-dense, vegan-friendly collection, including Superfood Facial Wash, Day Cream, and Night Cream and a bestselling, award-winning Superfood Facial Oil.

The Pre-Biotic gel cleanser gently cleanses and its natural Pre-Biotic helps balance the skin’s precious microflora.

It gently purges pollution, dirt, and excess sebum while Broccoli Seed, Avocado and Pumpkin Seed offer a balanced diet of active ingredients that help transform skin lacking vitality into a radiant complexion with an outdoor-fresh glow.

Superfood Day Cream is a great moisturiser for teenage skin. It’s rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants and combined with a protective Pre-Biotic, which helps defend skin against environmental aggressors, for skin that looks and feels healthy.

Lactobionic Acid, which is known for its ability to smooth skin, instantly brightens the complexion.

8. OY (Organic Young) by Green People

Skin care for tweens and teenagers starts with a great routine and the Organic Young range by Green People contains organic ingredients (Organic Green Tea, Willow Bark, Witch Hazel, Sage and Tea Tree), designed to encourage a blemish-free complexion and reduce teenage spots.

Willow Bark helps to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria, Tea Tree extract helps control bacteria, Rosehip oil encourages a clear complexion and Yucca deeply cleanses and gently removes dead skin cells.

The experts at Victoria Health recommend the following skincare for teenagers:

  • Cleanse with Derma E’s Very Clear Acne Cleanser, one of the best face wash teenage skin. It removes built-up oil and debris to help unclog pores, promote clear skin and prevent acne breakouts.
  • Spritz with Thyme Out (a moderate spritz) to moisten the skin area well. Allow to air dry. Thyme Out is so mild and actually soothes the skin meaning you can apply it many times a day to get your symptoms under control. Its mildness makes it a great start to a tween skin care routine.
  • Then, use Thyme Out as a preventative on an occasional basis 2-3 times weekly to prevent future breakouts
  • End with Garden of Wisdom’s Niacinamide Serum on a cleansed face; leaving for 30 seconds before applying moisturiser.
  • After moisturiser if desired, or in more chronic cases apply Silver Serum to affected areas only. It’s a mild serum so gentle enough for teenage skin.
What’s a good natural skin care routine for teens?

Sarah Brown, Founder of (13) Pai Skincare – a range of natural skincare for teenage skin – has these tips for acne prone tween, teen and/or hormonal adult skin:

  • Keep it simple. While a teenager’s skin changes (thanks to plenty of fluctuating hormones!) it can become more sensitive and inflamed than usual, so look out for products that help to keep their skin calm without upsetting the delicate pH and oil balance. Just one, or maybe two, steps will do.

  • This is the perfect time to get your child into the habit of proper cleansing. Encourage them to use a face wash for teens once a day initially. Try a gentle alcohol and detergent-free Cleanser like the Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser.

  • Steer them away from harsh astringent toners and cleansing wipes which, although heavily marketing to teens, can strip away the skin’s protective oils, triggering more oil and inflammation.

  • As they get older, they may find their skin starts to become oilier or dryer depending on their lifestyle and genetics.

    To help keep skin comfortable and balanced, introduce a lightweight moisturiser targeted to their skin type once a day.

  • For oilier skin types, avoid ingredients like beeswax, shea butter and silicones, which can create congestion. The Pai Geranium & Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream is an effective face cream for teenage skin. It contains Thistle Oil, which helps to redistribute shine, to leave skin looking and feeling more balanced.

  • For drier skin types, try a gentle formula to keep skin supple without overloading young complexions.

  • Breakouts are pretty much part and parcel of teenage life. In older teens, a more active product like Copaiba & Zinc Perfect Balance Blemish Serum will help to calm and clear blemishes without irritating or over-drying.

  • For younger teens, a serum may be too active so encourage good habits like thorough daily cleansing and resisting the temptation to pick.

  • Make sure pillowcases are changed regularly and flipped over in between. This helps to minimise bacteria and reduce breakouts.

  • Most of all, reassure them that for most of us, breakouts are a temporary phase and that they have plenty of other reasons to feel confident.

Top Tip

Is your hair care or makeup routine making your skin worse? If you style your fringe with product, that gel/wax is transferring on it, onto the skin underneath, clogging your pores and making breakouts worse.

If you wear foundation or powder under your fringe, this can make your skin oilier and more prone to spots. If your fringe is hiding your forehead anyway, can you skip putting makeup on that area?

If you can’t, switch to a light hairspray or spritz and always cover your forehead with your hand when applying product.

14. Avene Cleanance

The award winning Cleanance range has been specially formulated for blemish prone and oily skin types.

We’re particularly fond of the scrub which contains kaolin clay to absorb excess oil and sweat and Salicylic Acid to gently exfoliate and remove dead skin cells.

15. Proactiv

Proactiv is huge in the States and has a reputation as one of the best tween and teen skin care ranges there.

Proactiv is starting to make waves in the skincare market over here too.

Despite their somewhat over enthusiastic celebrity endorsements, their kits (choose from 30, 60 or 90 day supply) have three products that work together to help prevent breakouts and gently minimise redness and hyper pigmentation.

16. Cetaphil

Mild face washes such as Cetaphil can be effective or you can choose one with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in to help unclog pores. Dr Bibbi says Cetaphil is one of the best cleansers for teenage skin.

The side effects of these can include dry, burning skin with some redness, but acne should visibly appear to improve after a month.

You should always wash your face in the morning and at night.

17. BeautyPro Black Diamond Peel-Off Mask with Activated Charcoal

Winner of an OK! Beauty Award and shortlisted for the Editors Choice at the 2017 Mama + Baby Awards, the dual function treatment purifies and brightens skin by cleansing deep into pores, eliminating traces of daily dirt, oil and impurities.

Activated Charcoal draws impurities from the skin and loosens and eliminates blackheads.

After 20 minutes, peel the mask simply away for clearer and balanced skin. The mask is free from parabens, mineral oils, lanolin and petroleum.

18. Origins Super Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Gel

Awarded Best Blemish Treatment in the Glamour Beauty Power List 2018, the targeted gel helps to banish blemishes via Salicylic Acid. It sells out often and deserves its reputation as one of the best spot treatments for teenage skin.

Skin-calming Red Algae helps calm the skin. Free from Parabens, Phthalates, Propylene Glycol, Mineral Oil, PABA, Petrolatum, Paraffin and DEA.

19. Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Moisturiser

A famous, often selling out and one of best moisturisers for teenage skin, it quickly absorbs oil and hydrates without clogging pores.

Its MicroClear® technology delivers essential moisture and works to prevent spots, blemishes and breakouts.

With a delicate pink grapefruit fragrance, the moisturiser treats thirsty skin, leaving it smooth and soft.

20. Simple Daily Skin Detox Oil Be Gone Micellar Cleansing Water

This Micellar Cleansing Water uses thyme, zinc and witch hazel to deeply clean pores and remove excess oil from tween and teenage skin.

Works particularly well on oily skin as it leaves face matte, fresh and balanced, and with no greasy residue that can lead to clogged pores.

21. Spots and Stripes Gentle Cleansing Lotion

Spots and Stripes was created by an ex-beauty director and magazine editor (she previously worked on Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire and Glamour) so she knows a thing or two about skincare.

All the products are earth-friendly, sustainably sourced, highly natural and free of parabens, phthalates and SLS.

The range is perfect for tween and teeange skincare – your kids are too old for the baby ranges but not old enough for products with more active ingredients.

Our favourite product is the Gentle Cleansing Lotion. Ingredients like coconut and kukui oil, chamomile, lavender and mint help calm irritated skin and gently clean the skin without stripping delicate, young skin of its moisture.

It also contains Kanuka essential oil which is anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory yet soothing which is great for older teens with acne because it cleanses without stripping their (often oily) skin.

22. 31st State Skincare

31st State is the only vegan and natural grooming range developed specifically for teenage boys.

The line was created by a mum of teen boys who wanted teeange skincare products that would help clear up their skin without the awful chemicals found in most men’s grooming products.

The skincare range includes:

  • Foaming Face Wash with natural Magnesium, Copper and Zinc to help prevent breakouts and restore tired skin

  • Manuka and Tea Tree infused Overnight Clearing Pads help clear congested skin and clear pores

  • Spot Control Gel helps reduce and soothe spots, itchiness and redness.

23 – 25 Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise with Dr Hauschka

Dr Hauschka are huge advocates of the classic three-step cleaning routine (Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise) and starting this routine at a young age is an easy way to maintain great skin.

Cleansing Cream – £16 (for all skin types)

Created with gentle exfoliating particles to support the skins natural protective functions, the cream contains key ingredients of sweet almond meal and anthyllis to cleanse, helping pores appear more refined and skin more radiant

Clarifying Toner – £25.50 (for oily, blemished or combination skin)

Oily and blemished skin can often need additional support and care to rediscover its natural balance.

Clarifying Toner is oil-free and uses the powers of calendula and nasturium to encourage the reduction of oil production and soothe irritation.

Rose Day Cream – £30.50 (for dry and sensitive skin)

If your dry, sensitive skin is in need of rich, nourishing care, try the Rose Day Cream. It’s suitable for sensitive skin or skin prone to redness.

26. PRETTY Animalz by masqueBAR – £3.99

MasqueBAR is a Korean inspired skincare brand that has a range of face masks for differing skin needs.

The Pretty Animalz Sheet Mask Collection allows you to mix up your skincare regime according to how your skin is behaving (or not).

The masks are all made to replicate a variety of animals and each work on different concerns – so whether your skin is dry, oily, combination or sensitive, there’s a masque for you

27. Tropic Pure Lagoon Blemish Prevention Serum – £42

This new-age serum steps in as a preventative measure before a spot is fully formed to leave skin feeling cool and calm while showing blemish-causing bacteria the door.

Bioflavonoids have been proven to reduce visible blackheads by 41%, and visible whiteheads by 36% over 84 days making the serum perfect for oily, combination and blemish prone skin.

The serum contains all natural, vegan ingredients.

28. Bubu Skincare – £7

Bubu skincare make vegan and cruelty-free face masks and you can pick and choose according to your skin’s particular needs. Choose from:

  • Hydrating
  • Blemish busting
  • Exfoliating
  • Pollution busting.

What’s your must-have skincare product for teen and/or acne-prone skin?

Skincare tips for your tweens and teens

Skincare tips for tweens and teens:
Adolescent skincare tips – This is a great time for parents to encourage their tweens/teens to take care of their skin and develop good habits that could effect them later. Parents should encourage washing face daily – emphasizing using a gentle cleanser and toner if appropriate and no scubbing. Also shampooing the hair often is important as well. Avoiding wearing too much makeup as well as tight fitting hats or helmets can help prevent clogging pores. This is also a great time to talk to tween/teens about the importance of sunblock and wearing daily sunblock and avoiding tanning booth can prevent future sun damage and skin cancer.

OTC product recommendations – Cetaphil normal to oily cleanser, Cereve gentle cleanser, Skinceutical or Neutrogena ETOH-free toner, Panoxyl foaming wash, Neutrogena clear pore treatment, noncomedogenic sunblock, Stridex pads, OTC hydrocortisone cream

Adolescent acne:

Studies show that during adolescence close to 100% of the population has at least an occasional whitehead, blackhead or pimple – regardless of race or ethnicity. These studies also confirm that acne most frequently occurs between ages of 12 and 20. The likelihood of developing acne is greatest during adolescence because hormone levels become elevated. Elevated hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, glands that are attached to hair follicles, to produce greater amounts of sebum – an oily substance. An acne lesion (whitehead, blackhead, or pimple) occurs when a hair follicle becomes plugged with the sebum and dead cells.

In most cases, acne begins between the ages of 10 and 13 and usually lasts for 5 to 10 years. In some adolescents, more severe acne follows the development of comedones, reaching a peak 3 to 5 years after the first comedones appear. Adolescent acne commonly disappears between the ages 20 and 25. However, severe acne, also known as nodular acne or cystic acne, may not resolve until 30-plus years of age.

Skin care for acne:

Effective skin care for acne is vital. The biggest secret to keeping acne under control is maintaining healthy skin as much as possible. This means keeping the skin clean and protecting it from sources of damage like sunshine and harsh cosmestics.

1) Cleansing your skin – always use a gentle soap or specialized skin cleaner and wash your face once or twice a day. It is important not to scrub the skin. This will further aggravate the acne. Use a soft cloth to moisten your face and then apply the cleanser to all areas from the hairline to the neck. Rinse the cleanser with plenty of water and pat your face dry with a soft towel.

If you have especially oily skin, you may need to use an astringent or toner. Only apply it to parts of your face that are most oily and discontinue use if your skin becomes irritated.

Hair care is also important part of skin care. Shampoo your hair two or three times a week and try and keep it off your face as much as possible. Washing your hair daily is not necessary unless you have very oily hair.

2) Protect your skin from the sun- many of the medications used to treat acne cause the skin to become more sensitive to sunshine and more vulnerable to burning. The burning can happen very quickly. Always wear sunscreen when outdoors.

3) Choose your makeup with care – the best choice for good skin care for acne is to wear no makeup at all, but if you feel you must wear makeup choose some that will not clog the pores. These products are labeled noncomedogenic, but they may still cause acne in some people. Above all, avoid makeup with an oil base. Read the labels carefully and use sparingly.

4) Avoid touching the skin – as tempting as it may be to squeeze and pop these pimples, don’t do it! You are only inviting more trouble because the bacteria which causes pimples will spread. Popping pimples can also lead to permanent scarring. Try to avoid touching your face as much as possible.


Cleaning face – Most mild cases of acne can be controlled at home by gently washing the affected areas and using a topical preparation, such as benzoly peroxide.

What to do for a pimple at home – Over-the-counter acne products can help. Benzoly peroxide, salicylic acid are the most common OTC medications used to treat acne. These medications are available in many forms, such as gels, lotions, creams, soaps or pads. pHisoderm 4-Way Daily Acne Cleanser is a product that works for all skin types. Acne skin care products that clean, tone and fight acne are good because they will help with clogged pores and reduce acne outbreaks. Use hydrocortisone cream to spot treat a big pimple if you have an event the next day.

Generic and Common Brand Names for Over the Counter Topical Acne Medicine

Generic: Benzoyl peroxide cream, gel, lotion, or soap
Common: Clearasil, Fostex, PanOxyl Dryox, Persa-Gel

Generic: Salicylic acid
Common: PROPApH, Stridex, Oxy Night Watch, Clearasil Clearstick Maximum Strength

Generic: Sulfur
Common: Sulpho-Lac Acne Medication, Liquimat, Therac Lotion, Sulmasque

Generic:Benzoyl peroxide and sulfur
Common: Dryox 10S, Dryox 20S 10, Sulfoxyl

Generic: Sulfur and resorcinol
Common: Sulforcin Lotion, Rezamid Lotion, Acnomel Cream

In some people, OTC acne medications may cause side effects such as skin irritation, burning or redness.

Keep in mind that it can take up to 8 weeks before you notice an improvement in your skin. If an OTC acne product doesn’t seem to help after 2 months, get advice from a dermatologist.

After sports – clean right after sports with portable salicyclic pads or other cleansing pads. Avoid tight caps or helmets and avoid hair on the face.

Avoiding treatment, can make acne worse and may increase the chance for permanent scars. The ultimate goal of acne therapy is to help clear up the pimples you have and to prevent future breakouts.

When to see a dermatologist:

It’s time to see a dermatologist if you any of the following apply below:

1) I am shy, embarrassed and self-conscious about my skin.

2) None of the over-the-counter products and /or remedies I’ve tried has worked. 3) I am beginning to see scars after acne lesions clear.

4) I have painful, pus-filled lesions in addition to blackheads and whiteheads, and reddened spots on my skin.

5) I have dark skin, and a patch that is darker than my skin appears when my acne lesions clear.

If general, if your child is not responding to home remedies and over-the-counter treatments after one month, it’s a good idea to see a dermatologist. Dermatologists have a greater chance for long-term success if treatment is started sooner rather than later. Acne that ranges from moderate to severe typically requires the help of a dermatologist. The good news is that today virtually every case of acne can be controlled.

With so many factors affecting clearance and a multitude of treatment options available, a dermatologist’s help can make a difference. Before prescribing treatment, dermatologists consider several factors, including severity of the acne, types of lesions present, co-exisiting conditions, as well as the patient’s age, skin type, lifestyle and motivation.

The knowledge gained from considering these factors allows dermatologists to create effective individualized therapy that will resolve the patient’s acne over time and prevent new lesions from forming.

Acne responds especially well to early treatment. Dermatologists recommend that acne be treated early to maximize effectiveness as well as help prevent scarring.

Acne myths:

1) Acne is caused by poor hygiene. Lack of cleanliness is not the reason for outbreaks of acne. Blackheads are not “dirt”. They are a mixture of sebum and dead skin cells trapped in pores where it is impossible to clean them away. When exposed to air, they turn black. If you believe this myth and wash your skin hard and frequently, you can actually make your acne worse. Acne is not caused by dirt or surface skin oils. Although excess oils, dead skin and a day’s accumulation of dust on the skin looks unsightly, they should not be removed by hand scrubbing. Vigorous washing and scrubbing will actually irritate the skin and make acne worse. The best approach to hygiene and acne: gently wash your face twice a day with a mild soap, pat dry – and use appropriate acne treatment for the acne.

2) Acne is caused by eating chocolate. There is no scientific evidence for this – studies have shown no statistically significant relationship between eating chocolate and acne. The same holds true of other food associated like potato chips and sugar. It is true, however, that eating too much of these foods is unhealthy and you limiting these foods is always a good idea.

Even though chocolate and French fries do not cause acne, there are some foods which do seem to aggravate it. There seems to be a relationship between mild and acne, and foods high in iodine also seem to cause pimples. Iodine is found in seafood, so those with acne may be advised not to eat too much seafood.

3) Acne is just a cosmetic disease. Yes, acne does affect the way people look and is not otherwise a serious threat to a person’s physical health. However, acne can result in permanent physical scars – plus, acne itself as well as its scars can affect the way people feel about themselves to the point of affecting their lives.

4) You just have to let acne run its course. The truth is, acne can be cleared up. If the acne products you have tried haven’t worked, consider seeing a dermatologist. With the products available today, there is no reason why someone has to endure acne or get acne scars.

5) Popping is the best way to get rid of acne pimples. In fact popping pimples may aggravate acne by spreading the bacteria which is causing it. Popping can also lead to scarring which in severe cases can be permanent. This is definitely not the how to get rid of acne.

6) Sunbathing is good for acne. For many years it was believed that bathing in sunlight was an effective way to get rid of acne pimples. Exposure to the sun has the effect of drying out excess oils, so it does in fact have a short-term effect of improving acne. However, the skin quickly becomes accustomed to sun exposure so no long-term benefit is gained. Sun exposure may also damage the skin and increase the chance of skin cancer.

7) Makeup causes acne. Some makeup can clog the pores which is bad for the health of the skin. Cosmetics labeled “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic” are safe to use and some brands may include ingredients which can treat acne.

8) The more acne medicine the better. Some people believe that if their acne gets worse they should use more medicine. Excess use of acne ointments, however, may irritate the skin, and oral medicines can be dangerous if taken in large quantities. Instead of getting rid of acne pimples, they may become worse. Always follow the directions for the acne medications.

Tips for parents:

Talk to you your teen.
The sooner you speak to your teen about his/her acne, the better. Early treatment of acne may help reduce the risk of scarring.

Understand your teen’s feelings.
Being affected by acne can be a challenge for teens. It is important for parents to be supportive of what they are going through. Many parents may remember the issues they once faced. Remember to keep in mind that teens may decide to disguise their acne; therefore, take the right action by communicating with them.

Consult a dermatologist.
Take your teen to visit a dermatologist that will examine your teen’s acne and provide feedback on the cause, type and severity of it. The dermatologist can recommend medications and skincare regimens that are appropriate based on skin type.

Emphasize good skin care.
Get your teen into positive habits at an early age. It is important to emphasize good skincare habits such as washing your face once daily, moisturizing and using a sunscreen.

Educate yourself.
As a parent, the most important thing you can do to help your teen is to listen and be there for him/her! Educate yourself by understanding the causes of acne and the many treatment options that are available.

Useful websites:


About Dr. Marie Jhin:
She’s a graduate of Wellesley College. She received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. She completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine from the New York Presbyterian Hospital receiving a board certification in Internal Medicine. She continued her training as a resident and chief resident in dermatology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Dr. Jhin is a board certified dermatologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. She is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgeons, the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, the San Francisco Dermatological Society, and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Dr. Jhin is an adjunct Clinical Instructor at Stanford University School of Medicine, as well as a staff member at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and at Sequoia Hospital. Dr. Jhin has appeared in Oprah and Seventeen Magazines, and on the local news stations.

The Best Facial Cleansers For Acne-Prone And Oily Skin

Pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads are just some of the problems acne-prone and oily skinned girls have to face every day (pun intended). To keep the complexion clear, one must make sure that pores are free from dirt and oil buildup to prevent pimple-causing bacteria from spreading and thriving. That said, using an effective pore-clearing cleanser is the first step to scoring a blemish-free complexion.

What are the best face soaps or washes for oily skin?

If you’re struggling to look for the best facial soaps or liquids to soothe your oily skin, below, we rounded up the best face cleansers for acne-prone and oily skin, fit for every budget!

Human Nature Balancing Facial Wash

Say goodbye to shine with this gentle, natural, and organic facial wash. It has elemi, bamboo, and orange oil extracts that unclogs pores of dirt and oil gunk. Bonus: It leaves your skin feeling refreshed and energized!

Continue reading below ↓

Best for: Oily skin

Price: P79.75

Where to get: Robinsons Department Store, SM Beauty, Landmark Department Store

Pond’s Mineral Clay Facial Foam in Pure White

Mineral clay absorbs excess oil and detoxifies the pores. It also has brightening ingredients that leave your face radiant and fresh.

Continue reading below ↓

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P189

Where to get: Robinsons Department Store, Watsons, SM Beauty, Landmark Department Store, Lazada

iWhite Facial Wash

This one’s a brightening facial wash that deep cleanses and prevents breakouts. Flight attendants swear by this affordable cleanser!

Best for: Oily skin

Price: 169

Where to get: Robinsons Department Store, Watsons, SM Beauty, Landmark Department Store

Continue reading below ↓

Beach Born Witch Hazel Wash

This soap-free cleanser won’t irritate existing pimples and sensitive skin. The pure Witch Hazel extract content reduce redness, controls acne, and refines pores.

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P227.50

Where to get: Beach Born

Neutrogena Deep Clean Acne Foam Cleanser

This cleanser effectivley dissolves dirt and oil buildup. It has anti-bacterial ingredients that treat and prevent acne. Also, this won’t dry out your skin because of its gentle formulation.

Continue reading below ↓

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P230

Where to get: Robinsons Department Store, Watsons, SM Beauty, Landmark Department Store, Lazada

Evoluderm Anti-Imperfections Cleansing Gel

Exfoliation is key to unclog pores, and this cleanser has rice microparticles, pink grapefruit extract, and zinc to purify the skin.

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Best for: Oily skin

Price: P350

Where to get: Beauty Bar

Celeteque Acne Clearing Gentle Cleansing Gel

Turn to this cleansing gel to treat blemishes and control shine. It has salicylic acid as its main ingredient to exfoliate the skin and unclog pores.

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P495

Continue reading below ↓

Where to get: Robinsons Department Store, Watsons, SM Beauty, Landmark Department Store, Lazada

CosRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser

While the salicylic acid treats breakouts and blackheads, its mild formula is safe, even for sensitive skin. This cleanser won’t leave your skin feeling tight or dry after using.

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Continue reading below ↓

Price: P540

Where to get: Watsons, Lazada

Etude House Wonder Pore Cleansing Foam

This foam cleanser targets the accumulated sebum and other impurities a regular cleanser could not. It also moisturizes the skin to achieve a porcelain smooth finish.

Best for: Oily skin

Price: P548

Where to get: SM Megamall, SM Beauty, SM Southmall, Festival Mall

Continue reading below ↓

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam

This cleansing foam is enriched with Jeju volcanic scoria that effectively dislodges oil and dirt from the pores. It also has glycerin and orchid extract keep your face soft yet firm.

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: Price available upon request

Where to get: SM Mall of Asia

Continue reading below ↓

The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash

The tea tree extract in this gentle cleanser acts as mild anti-bacterial ingredient that prevents spreading pimple-causing germs. It also removes excess oil without drying out the skin.

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P695

Where to get: Shangri-La Mall, SM Megamall, SM Makati, Glorietta, Greenbelt, SM North, SM Mall of Asia, Lazada

Continue reading below ↓

Origins Zero Oil™ Deep Pore Cleanser with Saw Palmetto & Mint

This gentle foam cleanser has ingredients that answer oily skin’s common woes: Mint to soothe pimples, Saw Palmetto to clear the complexion, and salicylic acid to clear pores and take control of hyperactive oil glands.

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Continue reading below ↓

Price: P1,050

Where to get: SM Makati, SM Megamall, Lazada

Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser

This deep-cleansing facial wash has salicylic acid that can treat existing acne and prevent future breakouts. Aloe vera and chamomile soothe and calm down angry and painful zits.

Best for: Acne-prone skin

Price: P1,150

Where to get: Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Continue reading below ↓

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser

Here’s a non-drying facial wash that thoroughly removes impurities that cause pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. It can also brighten your complexion, thanks to its high vitamin C content.

Best for: Oily skin

Price: P1,185

Where to get: Greenbelt 5, SM Mall of Asia, SM Makati

Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser

This cleanser has both anti-aging and acne-fighting ingredients that will keep your skin smooth and clear. Amino acids and hyaluronic acid restore your skin’s youthfulness, while salicylic acid clears breakouts and blackheads.

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Best for: Acne-prone skin

Price: P1,950

Where to get: Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Dermalogica Clearing Skin Wash

Get rid of blackheads and acne with this ~genius~ cleanser. It has salicylic acid and alpha-hydroxy acids that dissolve any gunk that’s clogging the pores.

Continue reading below ↓

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P1,950

Where to get: Rustan’s The Beauty Source

Clinique Liquid Facial Soap for Oily Skin

A non-drying facial soap that clears the pores of dirt and oil buildup. It also restores the skin’s oil-moisture balance to prevent overproduction of sebum.

Best for: Oily and combination skin

Continue reading below ↓

Price: P1,950

Where to get: Rustan’s The Beauty Source, SM Makati, SM Megamall

Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleansing Gel

Enriched with Irish Moor Mud, Hijiki Seaweed, volcanic ash, tea tree oil, and salicylic acid, this cleanser is a mighty fighter of acne, pimples, and blackheads. All the key ingredients suck out the impurities and refine pore size. Lactic acid exfoliates to keep your skin’s texture smooth and even.

Continue reading below ↓

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P2,100

Where to get: Freyja Glorietta

NeoStrata Skin Active Exfoliating Wash

A dermatologist-approved, soap-free foaming cleanser that effectively eliminates pollution-caused dirt and sebum buildup inside the pores. It also gently removes dead skin cells, revealing a smoother and clearer complexion with regular use. It also has a clever combination of aloe, cucumber, and chamomile extracts to soothe inflamed acne.

Continue reading below ↓

Best for: Acne-prone and oily skin

Price: P2,200

Where to get: Dermatological clinics


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What about prescription medicine for acne?

Your health care provider may prescribe products with benzoyl peroxide, retinoid products such as Retin A®, Differin®, Avita®, Tazorac®, and antibiotics such as tetracycline, erythromycin, minocycline, doxycycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim).

Benzoyl Peroxide: Health care providers who prescribe this kind of medicine usually tell teens to start out slowly, using it 2-3 times a week and working up to every night. Wash and dry your face completely before applying it. You should use a very small amount-about the size of a pencil eraser. It’s common to have red or dry skin at first. If your skin becomes so dry that it peels, your health care provider will probably tell you to cut down on the number of days a week that you use it. Benzoyl peroxide has a “bleach-like” quality, which means that it may cause white marks on towels, pillowcases, and clothing. Make sure you rinse your face completely after using it so you don’t accidentally bleach any of your clothes! If you are leaving the medication on overnight, sleep on a white pillowcase.

Retinoid products: are very helpful for mild to moderate acne (whiteheads and blackheads). Apply a thin layer of this prescription medicine, example: Retin-A, Avita, Atralin), Tazarotene (Tazorac) and adapalene (Differin) once a day, after you have gently washed and dried your face. People who use this medicine sometimes say that their acne got slightly worse before it got better. If your skin becomes irritated, tell your HCP and use the product every other day instead of daily. To treat moderate to severe acne (pimples, cysts, and scars), your health care provider may prescribe additional medication.

Antibiotics: may be applied directly to your face (lotion or gel) or taken by mouth. In some products, benzoyl peroxide and a topical antibiotic are mixed together. They help treat the bacteria that can cause pimples and cysts. If you’re taking oral antibiotics, follow the instructions on your prescription bottle. Some antibiotics require that you take them on an empty stomach while other kinds say you can take them any time.

Stop your acne medication right away and contact your health care provider if you get a rash, hives, severe stomach pains, diarrhea, dizziness, or headaches. Antibiotics and other acne medicine can make your skin burn faster from sun exposure or tanning beds/booths. Avoid tanning booths and use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. If you get bad sunburn, call your health care provider.

How is severe acne treated?

If your acne doesn’t get better with over-the-counter medicine or the usual prescription medicines, your primary care doctor or dermatologist may consider prescribing Accutane® (the brand name) or Isotretinoin (the generic name). It’s a pill that is swallowed twice a day for about 15-20 weeks. The exact dose will depend on your body weight. Accutane® is reserved for severe acne (the kind that causes scarring) that doesn’t improve with other treatments.

Guys who use Accutane®:

  • Should AVOID THE SUN AND TANNING BEDS as much as possible. Use 30 SPF sunscreen or higher, because of the risk of severe sunburn. That includes tanning beds/booths too. Accutane® and other acne medicine can make your skin burn faster. Sunburns can also make your acne get worse.
  • Should be monitored by their health care provider, including regular check-ups.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin:


  • Wash your skin twice a day (morning and before bed) with a mild soap-free cleanser such as Purpose®, Basis®, or Neutrogena® to remove oil.
  • Wash your face after you exercise and after sweating as oil builds up and can clog pores.
  • Wash your face well after you come in contact with oils or grease such as working in a fast food restaurant. Use your fingertips and a mild cleanser to wash your face instead of a rough facecloth or sponge. Rinse with cool to warm water (not hot).
  • Wash your hands before touching or rubbing your face and try not to rest your chin, cheek, or forehead on your hand. Just think of all of the things you may have touched during the day with your hands! Breaking this habit may help to clear up most of your problem areas.
  • Wash your hair regularly especially if it’s oily. Oil from your hair can make your face and neck extra oily.
  • Use “oil-free” sunscreen when you know you’ll be outside in the sun. Antibiotics and other acne medicine can make your skin burn faster with sun exposure.


  • Don’t scrub your face or use harsh soaps; you can’t scrub acne away but you can make your acne worse if you are too rough when washing your face.
  • Do not use alcohol-based cleansing products. Products with a high percentage of alcohol can make your skin very dry and irritated. It actually can cause your body to make more oil that can result in more acne.
  • Don’t pick, pop or squeeze pimples or anything on your face no matter how tempting! All that poking can cause more inflammation and possibly leave you with a scar.
  • Don’t use moisturizers or sunscreens that have oil in them. Look for a label that says “oil free” and make sure you use a “facial” moisturizer, not a “body” moisturizer.
  • Keep hair gels, hairspray and any other hair products away from your face as they can clog your pores. Wash your face after you use these products to keep oils away.

Most teens will have a breakout at some point during their teen years. Taking good care of your skin will help. If you’ve tried over the counter medicine for a while without good results, or you notice scars or dark areas on your skin from your acne, ask your primary care provider about treatment including a possible referral to a dermatologist (skin doctor). Having acne can make some people feel self-conscious and embarrassed. If you feel this way or you’re sad about having acne, tell your provider! There are treatments for acne that work.

If you’re concerned about acne, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your health care provider: “What can I do about my zits?”

School, dating, social issues — things are difficult enough for teenage Boys. When you add pimples, inflammation, and acne treatment issues to the mix, things can get overwhelming. Searching for the best acne treatment for teenage Boys may be a difficult, lengthy process for all adolescents, but acne problems pose a unique problem for teenage boys looking for a quick solution to clear skin. Coping with and treating acne can be particularly difficult for teenage boys who may benefit from some additional, unique acne treatment advice.

Acne Treatment Challenges for Teenage Boys

  • What Challenges Are Unique to Teenage Boys With Acne? Acne is embarrassing for all adolescents, but boys can face unique challenges as they search for the best acne treatment solutions. While girls frequently discuss the overwhelming distress they face during acne breakouts, boys are more inclined to suffer in silence as they wake up with a face full of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and inflammation. Not only can this make them feel more alone, it can make them miss out on important information about the best acne treatment solutions and referrals for a knowledgeable, effective dermatologist in the area.
    Teenage boys may also have a more difficult time hiding their acne as they search the market for the best acne treatment products to permanently clear their skin and prevent future pimples and scars. It is less socially acceptable for boys to use makeup to hide bacteria filled pores and blotchy skin. Girls will often conceal pimples until they achieve clear skin, but boys may be stuck waiting until the best acne treatment is found. Even if it means suffering through a date with pimples or dealing with acne on prom night, they often wait until the best acne treatments are found.

Finding a suitable Treatment Kit for Teenage Acne can be a long process, take control by using the Exposed Skin Care Assessment.

Best Acne Treatment for Teenage Boys

  • What Are the Best Acne Treatment Solutions for Teen Boys? Many of the same acne treatments used to get rid of acne in teenage boys will also clear the skin of teenage girls. Most of the best acne treatment solutions will contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or both. Benzoyl peroxide can treat acne by killing bacteria that grow inside the skin pores and lead to pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and inflammation. Salicylic acid is a bit milder than benzoyl peroxide, and it is an effective acne treatment due to its ability to unclog pores that trap oil and bacteria beneath the surface of the skin. The best acne treatment therapies will take into consideration the drying effects of these ingredients and combine them with a moisturizer than can keep the skin hydrated, smooth, and free of inflammation.

Acne Treatment Tips for Teenage Boys

What Are the Best Acne Treatment for Teenage Boys? As we have already mentioned, teenage boys face some unique challenges as they search for the best acne treatment solutions. Although they may be uncomfortable swapping stories and tips about their acne treatment experiences, there are tips that teenage boys can follow as they look for the most effective, permanent and best acne treatment.
Boys who shave their skin regularly know all too well that pimples frequently get in their way. While their facial hair may not directly cause excess oil, bacteria, or acne, it can irritate pimples during the shaving process. If possible, teenage boys should reduce their shaving frequency and minimize inflammation by being gentle when they shave near pimples. Using a good, thin shaving cream can also help by allowing blades to easily glide over the skin and give pimples more time and space to cure.

Teenage boys who play sports should be particularly careful with the equipment that comes into contact with their skin. The best acne treatment for teenage boys is not limited to finding the most effective products for killing bacteria and soothing scars. Bacteria can accumulate in in sweaty sports equipment and press against the skin to clog pores and cause pimples. So boys, remember to clean your clothing, wash your equipment, and cleanse your face with the best acne treatment therapy for your skin.

Best Teen Acne Treatments and Tips for Girls

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In this delicate time of personal and physical development, the clinician can create indelible and dramatic changes in not only the health of a teenager’s skin, but also to their self-worth.

Acne Basics

Acne is a skin disease characterized by comedones, papules, pustules, cysts and nodules. The four main drivers of the condition are: increased keratinization within the follicles; increased sebum production; proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria; and inflammation. This condition presents in four grades:
Acne simplex

  • Grade I may include open or closed comedones. Inflammatory lesions and cysts are not typically seen. Scarring is unlikely in acne simplex as the lesions tend to be superficial; however, patient excoriation (picking) may lead to hyperpigmentation or texture changes. This is a particularly difficult message to get across to teenagers, as they live in the moment and would rather get rid of an obvious blemish, regardless of the long-term consequences.
  • Grade II will include the open or closed comedones seen in Grade I, in addition to papules and pustules. Cystic lesions and scarring are not common in acne simplex. Educating the teenager about refraining from picking is also critical with grade II acne.

Acne vulgaris

  • Grade III is characterized by inflammation and bacterial lesions. Open and closed comedones may also be seen and scarring will be more common due to the severity of lesions. Prescription therapies prescribed by a physician may be necessary.
  • Grade IV presents with deeper cystic and nodular lesions, as well as papules, pustules and comedones. Scarring is very common due to the depth of the lesions. Prescription therapies prescribed by a physician are highly recommended. It is critical that the teenage patient understand the importance of not attempting to extract papules, cysts and nodules. The lesions will not empty, and will potentially rupture the follicle wall below the surface of the skin causing dramatic inflammation, likely scarring and infection.

Acne in adolescents is primarily driven by dramatic shifts in hormones that trigger an increase in sebum production. Additionally, hygiene habits may be lacking or undeveloped, making bacteria and inflammation an issue, especially for teenage boys involved in sports that may not shower after practices. Conversely, some teenage girls may follow marketing and magazines for so-called “miracle cures” and wind up dramatically over-treating their skin, leading to excessive inflammation and dehydration, which only increases the skin’s sebum production. Teenage girls also often attempt to hide their acne with thick, comedogenic foundation and other types of makeup that can dramatically worsen the condition. One of the most important steps for any parent of a tween or teenager that may be suffering from acne is to have a consultation with a dermatologist or licensed skin care professional who can also help to educate the teenage patient on healthy skin practices and determine an appropriate treatment pathway. The severity of the acne can guide what level of care is sought. Lower grades of acne can be addressed by a licensed skin health clinician, while higher grades of more dramatic acne should be seen by a dermatologist.


Puberty in girls may begin as early as age 6, but typically begins around 11. Some boys may begin puberty as early as age 9, but 12 is the common onset. Puberty is responsible for triggering the multitude of changes that lead teenagers into physical maturity. During this time of dramatic hormonal shifts and fluctuations, it is quite common for teenagers to experience acne. Although each teenager’s physiology is unique, acne may continue throughout the teenage years, becoming more regulated years later as their hormones begin to balance into appropriate adult levels.
At the o set of puberty, the hormone gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is released to exert its effect on the pituitary gland. The pituitary glands of both boys and girls subsequently release two additional hormones into the bloodstream, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
In teenage males, these hormones trigger the production of testosterone and in female teenagers the production of estrogen is stimulated. This surge in hormones also stimulates an increase in sebum production, which accelerates the development of acne.

Additional Challenge for Girls

As girls enter puberty and begin menstruation, they experience additional cyclical hormone fluctuations that can worsen acne. Even in adult women, monthly acne breakouts can be a common occurrence.
A study published in the Archives of Dermatology asserts that up to 63 percent of women prone to acne also experience cyclical breakouts. Estrogen is the main hormone during the first half of a girl’s menstrual cycle and progesterone asserts dominance in the second half. When progesterone increases, so does sebum production. Occurring concurrently to this progesterone increase is a swelling of the skin and the follicles, which acts to trap this excess sebum, increasing the incidence of acne in the 10 days prior to menstruation.

Effectively Treating Acne in Teenagers

Acne is a hereditary condition, so if either parent suffered from dramatic acne as a teenager, it is likely that their child will as well. It is important for all young children, starting as young as 7 or 8, to learn good skin care habits. The first step in preventing and treating teen acne is to make the daily activity of cleansing, hydrating and treating the skin a regular part of their daily routine. Especially for younger teenagers and tweens, parents typically need to help their child perform the daily cleansing and application of any treatment products and hydrators until they grasp the techniques. These introductory regimens should be uncomplicated and straightforward. Especially at a young age, it should be as simple as gentle cleansing, light hydration at night and a good broad spectrum SPF of at least 30 every day.
Starting with a daily regimen that is complex or hard to follow may make the teenager decide it is more trouble than it is worth. Clearly, not keeping the skin clean and balanced is a recipe for a worsening of breakouts. Once a child is older and the acne condition is potentially worsened, the gentle cleansers should be substituted with benzoyl peroxide washes, salicylic acid treatment products, topical retinoids, bacteria-fighting hydrators and non-oily broad spectrum SPF products.
Regardless of the age of the teenager, all four main causes of acne must be addressed in their daily care regimen – even in a few simple steps. The products used must control sebum production, while also reducing follicular and surface hyperkeratinization, P. acnes proliferation and inflammation.

Controlling Sebum

Although controlling sebum production in acne-prone skin is a critical component in the improvement of the condition, it is also imperative to understand that over-drying a patient’s skin, even if they are oily, will cause the skin to compensate by producing an excessive amount of sebum. This will cause additional breakouts, rather than improving the condition.
With their typically narrow worldview, teenagers can often migrate to aggressive, bracing astringents and overly drying spot treatments thinking that they can kill-off the acne. This practice is highly counter-productive and will not only dehydrate the skin, but will also cause inflammation and aggravate the acne. Use of gentle astringents that also moisturize will avoid this over-production of sebum. Additionally, studies have indicated that acneic skin is deficient in essential fatty acids (EFA). In the absence of the EFA, the skin instead produces excess sebum. Although many regimens for acne taut their oil-free formulations, using hydrators that contain EFA-rich beneficial oils like borage seed oil, grape seed oil and wheat germ oil, will actually help to reduce sebum production and alleviate breakouts.

Reducing Hyperkeratinization

One of the initial triggers in the development of acne papules is the increased adherence of keratinocytes to the follicle wall in combination with increased sebum production, resulting in a plugged pore. Skin cells oftentimes do not desquamate properly on their own, creating a buildup of surface cells that result in trapped oil and bacteria. This then leads to the follicle becoming a de-oxygenated environment, a perfect stage for the proliferation of anaerobic P. acnes bacteria. A safe and effective way to reduce surface and follicular hyperkeratinization is the use of gentle, blended peeling solutions applied in a professional setting on a bi-weekly basis. These treatments control bacteria and oil production, as well as loosen the impacted stratum corneum, stimulate improved desquamation and promote effective penetration of topically applied remedies. At home, teenage patients can use gentle exfoliant products and clay-type masks to absorb oil, detoxify the skin and remove the excess cell debris that contributes to impaction. Topical retinoids are also useful for this purpose.
The term “retinoids” encompasses the family of vitamin A derivatives. They help to increase cellular proliferation and turnover, bringing healthy cells to the surface more quickly. Although every teenager’s skin has a differing level of sensitivity, prescription strength retinoids can cause surface irritation in many skin types and may be worse for the young patient. Although prescription strengths may be a necessary treatment for more severe grades of acne, pure retinol may be a better option for younger teenagers. Retinol is a gentle vitamin A derivative that is converted to retinoic acid in the skin. It is effective, yet non-irritating. Using a daily care product with low-level pure retinol in conjunction with regular, gentle professional peels is an excellent standard of care.

Minimizing P. Acnes

One of the critical steps in clearing acne is controlling the P. acnes bacteria that drive the condition. Use of topical antibacterial and antimicrobial agents, and oral or topical antibiotics (when applicable) are acceptable ways to control the bacteria population. Topical oxygen sources, such as benzoyl peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, reduce the anaerobic bacteria’s ability to thrive and proliferate.
Treatments performed by licensed skin health professionals that increase circulation and blood flow will deliver oxygen, which will lead to a decrease in P. acnes and assist in the clearing of active lesions. Light massage during application of products will also increase circulation, although it should be avoided in grades III and IV acne, as it could lead to cross-contamination. Facial massage is an excellent way to introduce the teenage patient to the concept of facial treatments. Many are initially uncomfortable with the idea of someone touching their skin, especially if they carry shame about their acne condition. Gentle massage not only stimulates circulation, but it induces a relaxed state that can be beneficial to any teenager. The act of touch can also help build the trust relationship
between clinician and teenager, increasing the level of compliance to which they will commit in order to achieve their goal of a clear complexion.
Products containing benzoyl peroxide (BPO) are available up to 10 percent over-the-counter (OTC) and at higher percentages by prescription only. Because BPO exerts its effect quickly, it is a good choice for washes. It is also effective in lotions and creams to penetrate pores to eliminate current blemishes and prevent future lesions. Unlike other ingredients like salicylic acid, it is not necessary for the BPO to remain on the skin for any extended period of time for it to be effective. Daily use of BPO products will increase sun sensitivity, so daily SPF use is critical. The inflammation caused by unprotected sun exposure is highly detrimental to the acneic teenager, so if you truly do not believe they will be compliant with sunscreen, it is best to forgo BPO in favor of ingredients that do not increase sun sensitivity.

Fighting Inflammation

Inflammation is both a cause and result of acne. When the population of P. acnes increases, sebum is broken down into irritating free fatty acids, stimulating an immune response. White blood cells weaken the follicular wall, which can result in follicular rupture and increased inflammation. Employing anti-inflammatory topical ingredients soothes and prevents irritation and inflammation. Aloe vera, salicylic acid, bisabolol, panthenol, licorice extract, boldine extract, resveratrol and EGCG from green tea are just some of the extremely effective ingredients available to control inflammation.
Additionally, ultraviolet exposure is a known cause of inflammation in the skin. Many teenagers have the misconception that sun exposure will “dry up” their acne. In fact, the inflammation that results from UV exposure will undoubtedly worsen their condition. There are now broad spectrum SPF products designed especially for breakout-prone and acneic skin that are light and leave no residue or emollience on the skin. This is a critical part of every healthy skin regimen, but is particularly integral for anyone using products and ingredients that increase sun sensitivity, like BPO and retinoids.
Acne patients who use topical agents that address all four of these drivers simultaneously will help to reduce excess sebum and increase the cell turnover rate of their skin. Combined with gentle exfoliation, they will ensure that P. acnes and excess cell debris will not be trapped within follicles in a deoxygenated environment and allowed to progress into a worsened acne condition.

Professional Treatment Choices for Teenagers: Start Slowly

Although the etiology of acne is essentially the same regardless of the age of the patient, things like youth, inexperience and emotional immaturity can make the application of more active professional treatments unwise in young teenage patients. Once they are initiated into the world of professional skin care, many teenagers can easily tolerate gentle blended chemical peels. Until you feel the patient has a comfort level with the process, it is best to instead use proteolytic enzyme treatments, low-level alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA) blends, and mask treatments. There are many professional products available today that incorporate therapeutic levels of ingredients like salicylic acid, but combine it with calming anti-inflammatory agents to make the treatment experience more pleasant and less frightening for a tween or teenager than a straight acid peel.
When treating acne it is best to set appointments two weeks apart. This is enough time to not create too much inflammation in the skin, but close enough together to not allow bacteria and surface impaction to escalate and lead to an increase in lesions.
Another critical piece to engaging in the professional treatment of a teenager’s skin is the relationship you build with the patient and their parent. Calling them at home the day following treatment and again several days later will help allay any fears they may have and will allow you to intervene if they are experiencing any complications, but were unwilling to reach out for help.

Caring for More Than Just a Teenager’s Skin

The teenage years are fraught with not only raging hormones, changing bodies and potential acne, but are also the time in life where each child is trying to shape themselves as people, understand the world, get their hearts broken, try to fit in – and the list goes on. To head into this time of emotional fragility and uncertainty feeling ashamed of the way their skin looks can leave scars on their self-esteem as well as their skin. Many clinicians have stories of the teenagers they have helped. The boy that did not feel like he could show his face at school or the girl too ashamed of her skin to attend the prom, and even teenagers whose acne has made them feel that life may not be worth living. It may sound dramatic, but their world revolves on the “here and now” at their age. Often something that we as adults can see will pass seems completely insurmountable for a teenager. Be aware of the signs that their emotions need care, in addition to their skin. Also, be mindful of when it may be wise to suggest outside counseling assistance to a teenager’s parent. Sometimes an effective acne treatment pathway for a teenager involves not just caring for their skin.
Treating the teenage acne patient requires more than just an understanding of the disease, and the most efficient and effective ways to eradicate the condition. Being cognizant of the myriad changes and challenges with the unique stage of development that encompasses the teenage years will help the clinician to successfully treat not only a teenager’s acne, but build their sense of self-worth as well. Being able to have a positive impact on the life of a teenager is a wonderful and affirming part of our work as skin health professionals.

As a board-certified dermatologist, pediatrician and fellowship-trained pediatric dermatologist practicing out of Scottsdale, Arizona, Cynthia Price, M.D. is dedicated to providing excellent, innovative and compassionate patient care. She specializes in adult, pediatric, surgical and cosmetic dermatology. Price is a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as a member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, the Women’s Dermatology Society, the Phoenix Dermatology Society and the American Medical Association.

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