Teens and Acne: Top Tips for Clearer Skin

Eighty-five percent of teenagers are affected by acne during their teenage years and more than 50 million people suffer from acne in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. June is Acne Awareness Month and we asked UC Davis Pediatric Dermatologist Smita awasthi for her top tips to help teens on the path to clearer skin.

At what age does acne usually start?

Acne affects around 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30. Typical acne can start as young as 7 years old. It tends to occur around the onset of puberty.

Washing your face twice a day can help keep acne away.

What are the prevention tips?

The tendency to develop acne is partly in the family, so it usually cannot be avoided entirely, but several things can help:

  • Wash your face twice a day
  • Use oil-free products
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, including vegetables.

How often should teens wash their faces?

Teens should wash their face twice a day to remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup using a mild cleanser.

What Can Teens Do To Treat Their Acne? Are there any over the counter products they should try?

If washing twice a day with a mild cleanser isn’t enough, I recommend trying an acne cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide first.

If acne persists, a topical retinoid, a drug derived from vitamin A, can be very helpful. Adapalene 0.1% gel is an over-the-counter retinoid. Benzoyl peroxide creams can also help. Azelaic acid may also work well, especially in treating dark spots left by acne.

Does Facial Care Help?

Sometimes facials can help, but not always. Harsh cleaning and handling can increase inflammation and make acne worse or increase the risk of scarring.

What are the prescription treatment options available?

There are several prescription options for the treatment of acne. Topical retinoids, topical antibiotics, and other topical anti-inflammatory drugs can be helpful. Common oral options include oral antibiotics, hormone control methods (birth control, spironolactone), and isotretinion.

When Should Teens Consider a Dermatology Visit?

Teens should see their dermatologist if:

  • They feel like they’ve tried over-the-counter options
  • They notice scars
  • They feel depressed about their acne.

Studies show that acne can contribute to low self-esteem and depression. Since we have treatments that work well for acne, I hope teens realize that they don’t need to suffer from their acne.

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