As trivial as acne can seem to some of us adults, it can be a real life saver to get addressed and resolved. Being a teenager (or younger) can be tough, especially in today’s world of hyper social contact and social media. So, here are 7 things every parent should know about acne…

  1. I want candy! Diet plays a role in skin conditions, especially acne. The perfect diet will not drive away all acne. However, limits in carbohydrates—pasta, breads, sweets—will decrease acne. Also, decreasing yogurts, cheeses and dairy may also make a difference because of the mechanism of acne formation, especially in females. Making sure that we are not overindulging in these areas can give us some control of our breakouts.
  2. Girls, Girls, Girls! Hormones definitely play a role in acne. For males, testosterone drives oil production which fuels the fire of acne. Females, also have hormones and this is why birth control and other oral medicine (Spironolactone) can be of some benefit to them. Girls don’t have to have abnormal levels of hormones to have hormonally influenced acne. But, sometimes birth control (oral or IUD) can take away our the “normal cycle” and it can be tough to tell whether hormones are abnormal. A simple blood test can help!
  3. Poker Face: Obviously, facial acne is the most noticeable. However, washing your face 3, 4 or 5 times a day isn’t going to help because over-drying the face can make acne worse. Acne is a complex disease with multiple mechanisms and too much emphasis on face washing is, in my view, unnecessary. So, parents saying “if he would just wash his face more, he wouldn’t have acne” is probably not a true statement. Plus, don’t forget the acne on the chest and back. This can be more difficult to treat and require oral antibiotics or even oral isotretinoin, such as Accutane or Absorica.
  4. Safe Ride Home: Home treatment is an essential part of acne therapy. Common ingredients including salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide and new OTC retioinds (Differin Gel) are also hugely beneficial. Popular products, such as Proactive, can help the most mild acne, but for anything else, I don’t find it to be enough to get the kind of results available by prescription. OTC products have their place, but I feel with some professional guidance, you can save money and time and enhance effectiveness.
  5. Peel: Chemical peels, facials, microdermabrasions, hydrafacials, and blue light therapy all have their place in helping acne sufferers. They may not completely and fully control acne breakouts because of the many causes of acne—hormones, bacteria, genetics, stress—but they play an adjunct role and can enhance some of the side effects seen with acne, such as scarring, redness, or increased pigment.
  6. Should we stay or should we go? My view, while potentially biased, is for people to get some professional advice regarding acne. I feel that we, as dermatologists, can help guide people through the maze of products, procedures, fact, and fiction regarding causes and treatments. Even without insurance coverage, I feel that I can save money and time for my patients with some simple advice and often some prescriptions. If acne is causing scars, it is a 911 for dermatologists to be aggressive with treatment because scarring acne leaves a permanent reminder of what should be a temporary problem if addressed early and often.
  7. What’s the frequency, Kenneth? I do not think it is ever too early to get professional advice about acne. I have seen kids 8 years old who suffer from acne. When mom or dad has scarring from acne, it is advised to see them early and often to make sure they don’t suffer the same fate. Face washing twice a day is enough. Using medicine once or twice a day as directed is the most one would need. If scarring is occurring, don’t be surprised if we recommend an aggressive approach to prevent more. Our vision for all our patients is better skin for a better life® and we will work diligently to make that happen.


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