Acne can make a student’s life miserable. Not only do they hate the red bumps that pop up faster than they can count, but they face the world thinking that others can’t see beyond their pimples.
With acne comes the issues of bullying and poor self-esteem. Most of the students we treat for acne have a negative outlook on life. Why? They’re constantly worried about how noticeable their acne is to others and feel judged because of it. In a stage that’s all about finding one’s self, they wear a mask that keeps them from being who they really are.
Yet, as a teen’s complexion improves, their attitude often does too. These students gain confidence, they’re more successful, and they come out of their shell. Once that burden of, “How does my face look?” goes away, they’re able to be themselves again.
How Parents Can Help
So how do we make those pimples vanish? First, students have to acknowledge their acne. Of course, it’s not fun to talk about, and adolescence doesn’t make it any easier. Teens tend to minimize the problems they’re most self-conscious about (don’t we all!), telling themselves, “It’s not that bad.” But they need help clearing up their skin, so they need to admit it’s a problem.
Parents, if your teen is dealing with acne, you can help. You want them to have a clear face and the fresh perspective that comes with it. So realize that if you had acne in your youth, your children probably will too. And it won’t go away with regular face washing alone. They inherited it. So plan routine dermatologist visits. As they go into the acne-ridden years, a dermatologist can prescribe treatments that keep the acne under control. Likely, if they see their skin clear up, you’ll see a big improvement in their morale.
The Best Teen Acne Treatments
Once you decide to make that visit to the dermatologist, they have an extensive repertoire to choose from for your acne treatments. They may suggest an over-the-counter regimen, or you may need some stronger prescriptions.
Over-the-Counter Acne Products
If you have mild acne (10 small bumps or less, one-two large bumps), an over-the-counter treatment may clear up your skin. Those products usually contain one of these active ingredients:
- Salicylic acid, an ingredient that exfoliates the skin and primarily works to open the pores. It’s not strong but does work well for mild acne.
- Benzoyl peroxide, which mildly exfoliates, but also kills acne bacteria found in the pores. As it reduces the amount of bacteria, the acne begins to clear. Again, this treatment works well with a few bumps but isn’t strong enough to eliminate severe acne.
Prescription Acne Treatments
Moderate or severe acne requires a stronger treatment. People with more than 10 small bumps, more than four large bumps, or acne that makes red hard cysts need a prescription. Those medicines are tested on thousands of patients and found to be more effective than placebos. Doctors evaluate them for years, weighing side effects against effectiveness.
Some treatments are stronger than others, and some work best on specific types of acne. There are topical ointments, oral medications, chemical peels, and light treatments. The right treatment depends on the individual. Fortunately, dermatologists now have a lot of tools at their disposal so they can choose the best treatment for each case. It’s not a one-med-fits-all situation.
Commit to Following A Routine
Creating a routine is as important as finding the right treatment. If your son or daughter uses products prescribed by your doctor, help them use them as directed. But if they’re sticking to over-the-counter products, still consult with your dermatologist. They can help with the difficult process of figuring out what works and what doesn’t, especially if your teen is using OTC products with marginal efficacy.
Remember, it takes time for acne to clear – probably at least six months –, so don’t let your teen give up! Help them commit to following a routine for the long haul so they can get that clear complexion.
Dr. R. Todd Plott is a board-certified dermatologist in Coppell, Keller, and Saginaw, TX. His specialization and professional interests include treating patients suffering with acne, identifying and solving complex skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, and identifying and treating all types of skin cancers. In his spare time, Dr. Plott enjoys cycling, traveling with his wife, and spending time with his children and new grandson.
Learn more about Dr. Plott.