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From Pimples to Preteens: A Parent's Guide to Acne

It doesn’t matter to most teens that acne is a common skin condition tied to the hormonal changes of adolescence. It comes at a time when they start to place emphasis on their personal appearance, and for some, the blackheads and pimples of acne can be devastating. 

As a parent, it’s important that your child gets the right care for their acne condition, for both the clear skin and the return of self-confidence that this may inspire. You might know from your own experience how acne can negatively affect self-esteem and lead to bullying from their peers. 

Sometimes, though, finding the right blend of effective treatment strategies can take some trial and error. Partner with Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon MD to ensure your teen has an effective treatment plan and that they know their role in acne care. Working with our skin care professionals may be the edge your child needs to get past the acne issue. 

Causes of acne

There are plenty of myths associated with acne. It’s not caused by dirt or poor hygiene, and there’s no link with eating greasy foods or chocolate. Popping pimples doesn’t clear skin faster, and perhaps most importantly, acne won’t go away spontaneously. 

Acne happens because skin oils and dead skin cells combine to form a sticky substance that blocks pores. For some, this starts the acne cycle when the hormone changes associated with adolescence cause an overproduction of skin oil, medically known as sebum. 

As pores become blocked, they serve as hosts for bacteria. Blackheads form when the debris remains exposed to air, and whiteheads form when there’s a covering over the clogged pore. The redness and inflammation arrives with bacterial infection. Severity of acne varies from person to person. 

Treating acne

Another acne myth is that breaking the cycle requires heavy cleaning with aggressive scrubbing. This virtually assures that acne will get worse. 

Instead, a regular cycle of twice-daily gentle cleanings is the best way to approach teen acne. Purpose-made, mild acne cleaners, without harsh abrasives, are best. Apply these and work them in with the fingertips, rather than with a washcloth, to avoid irritating the skin even more. Once again, scrubbing is counterproductive and can aggravate an acne outbreak. 

Pinching or popping pimples can invite or spread infection as well as increasing the risk of permanent acne scars. 

Benzoyl peroxide medications can be purchased over the counter or prescribed by Dr. Tandon. The active ingredient kills the most common acne bacteria and reduces oil production. While benzoyl peroxide is safe for use anywhere on the body including the face, it can bleach fabrics. Use old towels and pillowcases after medicating and wait until the medication has dried before dressing in favorite clothes. 

The psychology of successful treatment

Treating acne requires consistent attention over weeks before results emerge. Constant reminders from a parent to perform acne treatment tasks tends to be counterproductive, perceived as badgering or nagging. 

Your best approach may be a one-on-one meeting between your teen and Dr. Tandon.  The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends letting a teen with acne meet with their doctor alone as a more reliable way to build self-responsibility for their acne treatments. Regular follow-ups can help keep them motivated.

At Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon MD, we’re teen acne specialists. Book your teen’s appointment by phone or online today. We’re here to help.

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