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Acne is a very common problem in children, especially adolescents. Since acne isn't usually considered to be serious medical problem, it is often ignored and undertreated. However, acne is actually a quite serious problem and is very bothersome and stressful for most teens.

Part of the problem that leads to acne not being treated effectively is that parents often incorrectly assume that they need to see a dermatologist for treatment. In fact, most pediatricians can treat children with mild or moderate acne. I personally use any visit with a teen that has acne as an opportunity to discuss treatment options, but it is best to schedule a specific visit with your Pediatrician to discuss your child's acne.

Acne usually starts as your child begins to go through puberty, when hormones cause his skin to become oily. This may lead to oil and bacteria clogging the pores of his skin, giving rise to the characteristic whiteheads and blackheads of acne.

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Some common myths about acne are that it is caused by eating too much chocolate or oily foods or not washing enough. This is usually not true. Washing your face too much can actually irritate your skin, clog your pores and worsen acne. To prevent acne, it is best to avoid things that seem to trigger your child's acne or make it worse, encourage him to wash his face twice a day with a mild soap and avoid scrubbing or harsh soaps/cleansers, use cosmetics, moisturizers, etc. that are noncomedogenic (don't cause pimples), and avoid popping pimples. The basic treatments for acne include using an over-the-counter medication with benzoyl peroxide, which can kill bacteria, unclog pores and heal pimples. There are many different brands and forms of benzoyl peroxide, including creams and gels. In general, you should use the highest strength of benzoyl peroxide that your child's face can tolerate.

Risk Factors

  • Adolescent age
  • Increased level of circulating androgens
  • Skin that is rich in sebaceous glands

Preventing Pimples

  • Wash (but don't scrub) your skin twice a day with a mild soap. Avoid harsh cleansers or scrubs, as they can irritate your skin, and lead to more pimples.
  • Don't pop or pinch pimples, as this can lead to scarring.
  • Use noncomedogenic cosmetics and moisturizers and don't put oily or greasy substances on your face or hair.
  • Avoid 'stripping' of blackheads, as this can also lead to scarring.
  • Avoid touching your face a lot, as your hands have oil on them and this can make acne worse.
  • Avoid wearing hats or headbands that rub on your forehead, since this can also make acne worse.


  • Decrease follicular hyperkeratosis and obstruction of the pore opening
  • Decrease bacteria which breakdown sebum to free fatty acids which cause inflammation
  • Eliminate comedones
  • Diet has little role in preventing and controlling acne
  • Incessant washing with astringents has little role in acne therapy
  • Touching of face may cause disruption of comedone unit and leads to inflammation
  • Use of cosmetics okay
  • Encouragement and discuss that time is important and not to expect immediate changes
  • The face may look "worse" before there is improvement







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