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Teen Acne Frequently Asked Questions for Parents


What Is Acne?

To teens, acne is the bane of their existence and a total embarrassment when it happens. So much so, it can cause problems with a teen's confidence or more seriously, their self-esteem. This is why parents have to take teen acne seriously.

To the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases(NIAMS) acne is a skin disorder. It results from the action of hormones on the skin's oil glands, these are called the sebaceous glands. This leads to plugged pores and outbreaks of lesions commonly called pimples or zits. It is the most common skin disease in the Untied States. It happens to teens when they are going through puberty and their hormones are running rampant.

What Causes Acne? Can Acne Run in Our Family?

The causes of teen acne are not anything your teen can control they have to do with how hormones work during puberty and the pores deep within your teen's skin. Your teen is not getting acne because they are not washing their face correctly or they are eating too much chocolate.

Your teen's experiences with acne can mimic your own experiences with acne because how we go through puberty is genetic. This is because how our skin reacts to the hormones in our body can be passed from generation to generation in a family, much the same way dry and oily skin types are passed from parent to child.

Are There Different Types of Acne?

Yes, there are different types of acne depending on where the acne is and other reasons like the types of products your teen daughter uses for makeup. You can find out more about these types here: Acne Types.

Definitions of two common types of acne lesions:

  • Whitehead - A closed acne lesion.
  • Blackhead - An open, non-inflammatory acne lesion.

Do Acne Treatments Acne Work?

While there is no cure, yes, acne treatments can work when used correctly. Mild acne can be treated with over-the-counter medication. Ask your pharmacist or doctor which medication may recommend. For more serious, acne seek treatment with a dermatologist.

When Should a Teen Seek Treatment for Acne?

Every teen gets a pimple every once in a while. Some teens will get one or two on a regular basis or have small area, like at their hairline, that often has a mild breakout. For these types of cases, your teen does not need anything more than an over-the-counter acne treatment. If what your teen is using is not working, talk to the pharmacist and ask their advice.

Teenagers who have deep lesion or breakouts on the entire face or back should see their doctor or dermatologist for treatment. If you notice your teen is beginning to get acne that is bothersome to them and noticeable, it is time to get more information to help them with that problem.

How Many Different Acne Treatments Should My Teen Try?

Quite simply, your teen should try as many acne treatments as they need to in order to find one that will get rid of their acne. As long as your teen is using the treatment correctly, if the specific treatment doesn't work you'll need to move on to the next choice. you and your teen will need to have patience as you are seeking a treatment that will work for them. Again, follow the guidance of your teen's dermatologist, doctor or pharmacist for mild cases.

Where Can Someone Get More Information About Acne Treatment Advice?

On our site we have articles with parenting tips: Help Your Teen Prevent Acne and Fast Facts about Teen Acne.

NIAMS provides information about various forms of arthritis and rheumatic disease and bone, muscle, joint, and skin diseases. It distributes patient and professional education materials and refers people to other sources of information. Additional information and updates can also be found on the NIAMS Web site.

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
Phone: 301-495-4484 or 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267) (free of charge)
TTY: 301-565-2966
Fax: 301-718-6366

The American Academy of Dermatology can provide referrals to dermatologists. It also publishes a brochure on acne for adults and a fact sheet for young people. These are available on the organization's site or can be obtained by calling or writing to the academy.

American Academy of Dermatology
P.O. Box 4014
Schaumburg, IL 60168-4014
Phone: 847-330-0230 or 888-462-3376 (free of charge)
Fax: 847-330-0050

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