Signs of Acne Teenager
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.
Almost all teens get acne. It happens when an oily substance called sebum clogs pores.
Pimples usually pop up on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Acne isn't a serious health risk, though severe acne can cause permanent scars. Acne can also damage self - esteem.
What Does Acne Look Like?
Acne can appear as one of the following:
Whiteheads: White dots that are pores impacted with oil and skin covered by skin layers.
Blackheads: Black bumps that are impacted pores in which material pushes out through the follicles. The black color is not from dirt. It may be from bacteria, dead skin cells, and matter that react with oxygen.
Papules, pustules or nodules: More serious lesions appearing red and swollen due to inflammation or infection of the tissue around the clogged follicles, which are often painful and feel hard.
Cysts: Deep, pus-filled pimples.
Why Do Some People Get Acne and Others Don't?
It is not clear why some people are more prone to acne than others.
The exact cause of acne is not known, but hormones called androgens can play a role. Androgens increase in both boys and girls during puberty. Androgens make the skin's oil glands get larger and make more sebum. Androgens also can increase because of hormonal changes related to pregnancy or starting or stopping birth control pills.
Genetics may also matter. If your parents had acne, you may have inherited that tendency.
Some medications (for example, androgens taken as medicine, epilepsy medication, lithium, and prednisone) can cause acne.
Cosmetics that have a greasy consistency may also clog pores. Water - based products are less likely to cause acne than oil-based makeup.
Other things that can make acne worse include:
- Friction caused by leaning on or rubbing the skin; harsh scrubbing
- Picking or squeezing blemishes
- Pressure from bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
- Changing hormone levels in adolescent girls and adult women two to seven days before the start of the menstrual period
How Is Acne Treated?
Dermatologists (doctors who specialize in skin problems) often treat acne, particularly in severe cases. Family or general practitioners, pediatricians, or internists can treat milder forms of acne.
Treatments may include:
Nonprescription ("over the counter") topical treatments: "Topical" means that you put these products on your skin. They're not pills. These include acetic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur. These treatments are available in many forms including gels, lotions, creams, soaps, and pads. When these products are used regularly, they are moderately effective in treating acne. It may take 4-8 weeks for skin to improve.
Prescription topical treatments: These include adapalene, antibiotics, azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, dapsone, tazarotene, and tretinoin.
Prescription oral drug treatments: For people with moderate to severe acne, doctors often prescribe oral antibiotics (pills) in addition to topical medication. Oral antibiotics are thought to help control acne by curbing the growth of bacteria, thereby decreasing inflammation. They are usually taken daily for four to six months and then tapered and discontinued as acne improves. The most potent oral drug, isotretinoin (Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan and Zenatane), is usually taken once or twice a day for 16 to 20 weeks. It is believed to reduce the size of the oil glands so that much less oil is produced and to help prevent clogged pores. That curbs the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Because of the risk of birth defects, women of childbearing age must not be pregnant and must not become pregnant while taking isotretinoin.
In office treatments: Cysts can be treated with a series of intralesional cortisone injections. A red light therapy can be used to decrease inflammation and bacteria on the skin. A salicylic acid peel can be used to unclog the pores.
Acne Prevention Tips
Here are tips that may help control acne.
- Don't over-wash or use harsh scrubs. Acne is not caused by dirt. Two gentle washings a day is enough. Too much cleaning can leave skin irritated and dry, triggering glands to produce more oil, increasing the likelihood of pimples.
- Use oil-free or non comedogenic products (those that won't clog pores) on your face.
- Don't squeeze or pick blemishes. Popping pimples can drive acne bacteria deeper into the skin. Picking can lead to more inflammation and permanent scarring.
Don't let acne define who you are. Do what you can to improve your skin, working with a dermatologist, if necessary, and keep doing the things you enjoy.
Read more: acne and blemish products
Acne Treatment Teenager Causes, Symptoms & More
If there's one thing you can count on as a teen, it's acne. More than 85% of teenagers have this common skin problem, which is marked by clogged pores (whiteheads, blackheads), painful pimples, and, sometimes, hard, deep lumps on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, back, and upper arms.
If your mom and dad had acne, chances are good that you will, too. But there are many ways to prevent (and treat) acne today to keep the condition minimal, prevent scarring, and leave your skin glowing.
What Causes Acne?
To understand acne, you need to know how your skin works. The pores in your skin contain oil glands. When you hit puberty, there's an increase in sex hormones called androgens. The excess hormones cause your oil glands to become overactive, enlarge, and produce too much oil, or sebum. When there's too much sebum, the pores or hair follicles become blocked with skin cells. The increase in oil also results in an overgrowth of bacteria called Cutie Bacterium Acnes.
If blocked pores become infected or inflamed, a pimple - a raised red spot with a white center -- forms. If the pore clogs, closes, and then bulges, you have a whitehead. A blackhead occurs when the pore clogs, stays open, and the top has a blackish appearance due to oxidation or exposure to air. (This has nothing to do with skin being "dirty").
When bacteria grow in the blocked pore, a pustule may appear, meaning the pimple becomes red and inflamed. Cysts form when the blockage and inflammation deep inside pores produce large, painful lumps beneath the skin's surface.
Hormonal changes related to birth control pills, menstrual periods, and pregnancy can trigger acne. Other external acne triggers include heavy face creams and cosmetics, hair dyes, and greasy hair ointment -- all of which can increase blockage of pores.
Clothing that rubs your skin may also worsen acne, especially on the back and chest. So can heavy sweating during exercise, and hot, humid climates. Stress is known to trigger increased oil production, which is why many teens have a new crop of pimples on the first day of school or just before that big date.
What Are the Symptoms of Acne?
While the symptoms of acne vary in severity, you'll notice these signs on areas of your body with the most oil glands (the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and upper arms):
- Clogged pores (pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads)
- Papules (raised lesions)
- Pustules (raised lesions with pus)
- Cysts (nodules filled with pus or fluid)
The least severe type of acne lesion is the whitehead or blackhead. This type is also the most easily treated. With more extensive acne, you may need prescription medications to ease inflammation, bacterial infection, redness, and pus.
What Is the Treatment for Acne?
The treatment usually depends on how serious the problem is. For instance, if you have an occasional inflamed pimple, you may use skin compounds containing:
- Azelaic acid
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Glycolic acid
- Lactic acid
- Retinoids (medications that come from vitamin A)
- Salicylic acid
- Various fruit acids
Benzoyl peroxide reduces oil production and has antibacterial properties. But use it carefully, as it might leave your skin dry and flaky. (It can also bleach out clothing, towels and bedsheets.) Try to use it just before bedtime.
Resorcinol and sulfur, as well as prescription retinoids and prescription antibiotics applied to skin, can reduce blackheads, whiteheads, and inflamed pustules.
When many pustules or cysts appear on the face and upper body, you'll need an oral antibiotic. Your doctor also can inject cysts with anti-inflammatory steroid solutions to help decrease their size.
For persistent acne, antibiotics (taken by mouth or applied to the skin) are generally used. Some antibiotics have both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. These are often prescribed for short-term use (usually a few months).
Because acne is linked to hormones, some oral contraceptives (birth control pills) may help. But not all birth control pills stop acne, and some make it worse.
Spironolactone, (Aldactone) a hormone blocker, can be used for teenage girls who have acne.
Isotretinoin (Absorica, Absorica LD, Accutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret), a prescription medication you take orally, may help control severe acne, which is characterized by many large cysts on the face, neck, and upper trunk and scarring.
Clascoterone (Winlevi) is a new twice daily topical cream that blocks androgen hormones locally and is anti-inflammatory. It is FDA approved in both boys and girls ages 12 and up.
Pregnant women or women who might become pregnant can't use this medication, as it's linked to birth defects. Isotretinoin can give people very dry skin, eye dryness, and irritation and requires blood tests to monitor for liver inflammation, high blood fat content, and bone marrow suppression. It can also be very expensive. So its use is restricted to the most severe cases for which other treatments haven't worked.
Can I Prevent Acne?
There are some steps you can take to prevent acne. To prevent oily skin that can contribute to acne, keep your skin clean. Wash your face and neck twice daily with mild soap and warm water. But never scrub your face! That can irritate your skin and worsen acne.
When Should I Call My Doctor About Acne?
Whether you have a few pimples or more serious acne, talk to your primary health care provider about treatments. Treating acne early is the key to avoiding permanent scarring.
Prescription Treatments for Acne for teen
Are over-the-counter acne products not cutting it? The good news is that there are highly effective medicines for tougher teen acne cases. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, virtually anyone’s acne, no matter how severe, can be treated.
But the prospect of taking a daily prescription medicine - especially as a teenager -- can raise some concerns for teens and their parents. Will it really work? How long will it be necessary? What are the side effects?
Understanding Teen Acne
Exactly what causes acne? Acne develops when cells and natural oils block tiny hair follicles in the skin. Bacteria work their way into the plugged-up follicles and start multiplying. When the body’s immune cells move in to attack the bacteria, the results of the battle are the classic symptoms of acne -- swelling, redness, and pimples.
Acne medications help by interrupting this process in different ways. Some over-the-counter and prescription acne creams help by unplugging the follicles. Others, such as antibiotics, kill the bacteria that move into the follicles. The pill isotretinoin reduces oil production, unplugs the follicles, and targets inflammation and acne-causing bacteria. It indirectly affects bacteria by decreasing the sebum they feed on.
There is no best acne treatment. Some people do fine using one acne product, although many need a combination to control their teen acne.
Teen Acne: Topical Medicines
For mild to severe acne, a doctor might recommend prescription treatments that are "topical," which means they go on your skin. These treatments might also be used for more severe acne in combination with other medicines.
Topical treatments for teenage acne come in different forms, including creams, lotions, foams, gels and pads. Some types include:
Topical antibiotics. These acne medicines can kill some of the bacteria on the skin and reduce redness and inflammation. Examples of antibiotics include clindamycin (Cleocin T, Clinda-Derm) and erythromycin (Emgel, Erygel)
Topical anti-androgen. A new class of treatment for acne, this medication targets the hormones which triggers the outbreak. This includes the new medication clascoterone (Winlevi).
Topical retinoids.Retinol creams are made from vitamin A. They work by unplugging the follicles, which also allows other medicines like topical antibiotics to work better. Examples include adapalene (Differin), tazarotene (Tazorac), and tretinoin (Avita, Retin-A), and trifarotene (Aklief)
Other topical medicines. Some of the medicines that you can find over the counter are available in more potent forms by prescription. These include azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur-based treatments. They help by reducing swelling and blocking the growth of bacteria.
Some prescription creams include two or more active ingredients.
The typical side effects from these treatments are mild and confined to the skin. They include stinging, redness, irritation, and peeling.
Retinoid creams can make skin more sensitive to sunlight. So when using these treatments, it’s important to limit sun exposure, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and apply broad spectrum sunscreen regularly. Protect exposed skin with a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a large-brimmed hat.
Teen Acne Treatment: Oral Medications
For moderate to severe cases, a dermatologist might recommend prescription acne medications taken by mouth instead of -- or in addition to -- topical treatments. Here are some of the types used.
Oral antibiotics. For more severe teen acne, daily antibiotics can help kill bacteria and reduce swelling. These drugs are typically prescribed for periods of six months or less. Over time, the bacteria may become resistant to a specific antibiotic. When that happens, the doctor may switch to a different drug.
The side effects of oral antibiotics depend on the medication, but they can cause problems like upset stomach, dizziness, skin color changes, and sun sensitivity. Tetracycline (Sumycin) can yellow the teeth and affect bone formation, so it’s not recommended for children under nine or the last half of a pregnancy. However, the newly approved tetracycline derivative sarecycline (Almirall, Seysara) can be used in children from age 9 and above and you can take it once daily. Doxycycline (Acticlate, Adoxa, Doryx, Monodox, Oracea, Vibra-Tabs, Vibramycin) and minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin, Solodyn) are also not recommended for children under 8 or pregnant women.
Isotretinoin. This is a powerful drug in the retinoid group. It's used for severe or moderate acne that can’t be controlled with other treatments. It reduces the amount of oil made by glands in the skin. It also curbs inflammation and reduces clogged hair follicles. Taking it for several months, once or twice a day, can clear most cases of acne.
The most common side effects are dryness of the skin, eyes, mouth, lips, and nose. Other side effects include nosebleeds, achiness, diminished night vision, sun sensitivity, and changes in triglyceride levels and liver function. Severe side effects of isotretinoin are very rare. Since it can cause serious birth defects, women should use two different forms of birth control when taking isotretinoin. People using isotretinoin will need periodic blood tests.
Many teens and their parents are concerned about the possible psychological effects of isotretinoin. What’s the connection? Experts say that there have been a number of people using isotretinoin who had severe depression and attempted suicide. But no one knows whether the medicine was really the cause. The fact is that depression is more common in people with acne, regardless of the treatment.
Parents, if you notice that your son or daughter is having mood swings, seeming down or angry, or losing interest in friends or the things that they usually enjoy, schedule an appointment with the doctor.
Hormonal treatments. Teen girls have acne that’s linked to hormones called androgens. To treat this sort of acne, a doctor might recommend to women birth control pills or spironolactone (Aldactone). Side effects of hormonal treatments for acne include irregular periods, tender breasts, headaches, blood clots, high blood pressure, and fatigue.
Teen Acne: Tips for Prescription Acne Treatment
Take the acne treatment as prescribed. It's important to stick to the doctor’s acne treatment. Make it a part of the daily routine. Leave the medicine out where you can see it, instead of tucking it away in a medicine cabinet. If it helps, use notes or alarms as reminders.
Stop using other acne treatments. If a doctor has prescribed an acne treatment, don't also use other treatments or home remedies. They’re unlikely to help and they could even make the acne worse.
Stick with it. Acne treatment won’t work immediately. It can take six to eight weeks before you see some benefit. It may take six months or longer to clear the skin altogether.
Do your part. Follow the doctor’s skin care advice, particularly when it comes to cleansing and using moisturizer. Avoid oil-based makeup and hair products, since they can plug up the pores and aggravate acne. And though it can be hard, resist the temptation to pop zits or pick at them - it can lead to infection and scarring. Warm compresses may help to relieve pain and inflammation.
Work with a doctor. If treatment isn’t working, don't give up. It may take some time to hit on the right approach. Schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss other options. Remember: With the right treatment, almost every case of acne can be cured.
Teen Acne: When Should You See a Doctor?
Many teens get pimples. They usually don’t need a prescription.
But if any of these five things sound familiar, a doctor could help a lot.
- The acne is severe. A dermatologist can help get this under control.
- Over-the-counter treatments don’t clear it up. Try a non-prescription treatment such as a topical retinoid gel or those containing benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid for a couple of months. If that doesn’t help, it’s time to see an expert.
- The acne appeared after you started taking medication. Some drugs for anxiety, depression, and other conditions can cause acne or similar symptoms. Your doctor might be able to change your prescription.
- You notice acne scars. Your dermatologist will get your skin condition under control and then treat the scars.
- It affects your self-esteem. Having clearer skin could make you feel more confident and less self-conscious.
Which Doctor Should You See?
You can start with your pediatrician or the family doctor. Or you could go right to a dermatologist.
- The doctor will probably want some information from you, such as:
- When did the acne start?
- Has it stayed about the same, or has it gotten better or worse?
- What treatments have you tried and for how long? How well did they work?
- Does the acne affect your self-image or social life?
- You should also bring a list of any medications or supplements you take.
You’ll want to ask some questions, too. Good ones include:
- Are over-the-counter treatments enough? What do you recommend?
- What habits would help me?
- What’s the best way to cleanse and take care of my skin?
- What can we do to make acne scars less likely?
- What kind of makeup will cover up acne?
If the doctor recommends a prescription cream or medicine, you should ask:
- What’s the name of this medicine and why do you recommend it?
- What are the side effects?
- How should I use it??
- How long will I need it?
- How soon should I expect to see results?
- When should we schedule a follow-up appointment?
Just for Parents
If acne affects your teen’s self-esteem, talk to them about it. They may need some basic information. The acne myths that you heard in high school -- that it’s caused by chocolate, or bad hygiene, or masturbation -- aren't true. Reassure your teen that acne treatments really do help.
Sometimes anxiety and depression go along with acne. Watch for signs such as not wanting to socialize, being moody or fatigued, or losing interest in favorite activities. If that happens, consider whether it would help them to talk with a doctor or therapist.