Acne is a common trial of adolescence. There are many approaches to the management of acne. Mine focuses on good skin care habits. It's not particularly expensive or fast, but it is effective and fulfilling. When a teen learns good skin care, it is a habit that serves them for life.
When a teen comes to me with concerns about acne, the first thing I do is ask what they are currently doing for skin care. I also ask how much their acne bothers them. Then, I share what I have learned about good skin care. It starts with washing. I recommend you wash your face with a non-soap cleanser. There are hundreds on the market. Pick one you like and use it twice daily. Washing removes a large portion of the dirt and oil from your skin. However, it doesn't get it all. Adding a toner helps tremendously. Witch hazel is a toner that has been around for ages, is inexpensive and works very well. Put some on a cotton ball and use that on your freshly washed face. The toner also helps keep pores small. Then, even for the young, oily skin of a teen, hydrate with a lotion or cream.
This is a 3 step process. Wash, then tone, and finally hydrate. These 3 steps need to be done twice a day, every day. If your teen does this for 3-4 months, most will see a dramatic improvement in their acne. It is that simple. This works very well for the common acne that consists of open comedones (pimples) and closed comedones (black heads). For individuals with cystic acne, I recommend getting a Dermatologist involved. Salicylic acid is a component of many acne washes and lotions. It helps reduce the redness and swelling associated with closed comedones. This can be used daily. There are many masks that help draw out open comedones. These are best used only once a week.
If your teen has followed these recommendations for 4 months or more and still has significant acne (or acne that bothers him or her), then adding benzoyl peroxide can be quite beneficial. Benzoyl peroxide comes in many forms. It is only effective an a form that is left on your skin. I recommend a gel, cream or lotion form of benzoyl peroxide. This can be used once or twice daily, but benzoyl peroxide should be left on the skin for at least 8 hours. I don't recommend using a benzoyl peroxide wash, as this will not be left on the skin. Also, remember, this is a peroxide. It can bleach towels and pillow cases if not used sparingly, rubbed in well, or not rinsed off your hands.
If your teen continues to have concerns about acne after using these steps, then talk with your pediatrician. A referral to a Dermatologist may be in order. While this problem may not be life threatening or chronic, acne can effect your teen's self esteem and warrants attention.
~Dr Nan N~