The emotional rollercoaster many teens and pre-teens experience can become worse this time of year. Back to school can add stress in a variety of ways: busier schedules, more responsibilities and social challenges. Adding acne to the mix can sometimes feel overwhelming. The experts at Affiliated Dermatology offer some advice on how to help children prevent and treat acne. 

What is acne?

• Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S. There are different types of acne, including pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and cysts. Acne appears most often on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, upper arms and buttocks.

What causes acne?

• Acne appears when pores of hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. Bacteria get trapped and trigger and immune system response which causes redness and swelling.

How do dermatologists diagnose acne?

• A dermatologist will examine your skin and grade it based on severity. Grade 1 is considered mile and Grade 4 is severe.  A dermatologist will note what types of acne appear on what parts of your body. Treatment options include: topicals applied directly to skin, oral medication like antibiotics, oral contraceptives or isotretinoin, and procedures like lasers and peels. Acne scars can be treated with microneedling.

How to help children prevent and treat acne

• Treating acne when it starts may prevent low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. 

• Encourage daily washing with a gentle cleanser morning and night and after exercising to help prevent clogged pores. Only hands should be used to apply cleanser without rubbing hard. Use cool or warm water to rinse and pat dry with a clean towel.

• Think before you speak. In a small study, dermatologists found when parents reminded teens every day to use acne medicine, the approach backfired because teens felt like they were being nagged and ended up using their acne treatment less often. Fewer reminders from parents may be more effective.

• Let your teen meet with the dermatologist alone so the teen can speak freely and the dermatologist can create a bond.