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Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC Blog

How to Improve Teen Acne and When to Visit a Dermatologist

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 25, 2022 10:54:46 AM / by Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

While acne can occur at any stage of life, it is most common during the teenage years. Acne, a broad term for whiteheads, blackheads and pimples, affects an estimated 85 percent of teenagers and young adults. In teenagers, acne is more prevalent in males, while in young adults, it is more prevalent in females.

Even though teen acne is common, it can be devastating, especially for those who suffer from severe cases. If your teenager is embarrassed or upset about their acne, there are various ways you and your dermatologist can help. Continue reading to learn more about improving teen acne and when it's time to visit a dermatologist. 



Many factors can cause acne in teenagers, including the following:

  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes are the leading cause of acne in teenagers. Some women may experience acne due to their menstrual period or other hormone-related abnormalities, such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
  • External Factors: External factors like skin and hair products, a diet rich in dairy and high sugar, friction from touching their face with their hands, or drugs like prescription steroids or over-the-counter anabolic steroids can cause acne. 
  • Stress: There is a direct correlation between increased stress and acne. For example, students may experience more severe acne during exams. 
  • Family History: Those with close family members who have acne are three times more likely to suffer from this condition.


Acne can emotionally affect teenagers impacted by it, but there is hope. Acne is treatable, and new breakouts are preventable. However, it is essential to remember that there is no overnight remedy for acne; it takes time for improvement, and treatment looks different for everyone. 


Take It Seriously

The first step of improving teen acne is to take the condition and your teenager's feelings about it seriously. Acne can lower self-esteem and, sadly, even result in bullying. Instead of diminishing your teenager's concerns, take them seriously and consider early treatment. Early treatment can improve self-esteem, stop acne from worsening and prevent acne scarring.


Lessen Stress 

While stress does not cause acne, studies have shown that stress makes acne worse. Therefore, any steps you can take to help reduce your teen's stress can help. Some examples include making sure they get a good night's sleep, encouraging meditation or yoga, promoting a healthy diet and exercise and ensuring they have someone trusted to talk to about what is bothering them.


Encourage Healthy Skin Habits

Acne-prone skin is sensitive skin. Thus, The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends cleansing skin twice daily with lukewarm water – cleansing more than that can irritate the skin and cause acne to worsen. For best results, dermatologists recommend gently washing the face in the morning and night or after sweating. 

Additionally, remind your teen about the importance of gently cleansing with their hands and never scrubbing their skin. Scrubbing can irritate and cause acne sores to rupture. 

Cleansers should contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to clear acne sores. You can find benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid in some of our medical-grade cleansing products here.


Incorporate Acne-Friendly Skin Care Products

Common active ingredients in acne skincare products include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and topical retinoids; these ingredients fight against the different causes of acne. 

  • Benzoyl peroxide decreases P. acnes bacteria
  • Salicylic acid eases inflammation and unclogs pores
  • Retinoids unclog pores and reduce oiliness

Only incorporate products into your teen's skin care regimen that will not cause breakouts. Look for skincare products that are oil-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic. At the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we offer our Acne Skin Care System, which provides some of our medical-grade acne-friendly products for a discounted price. A list of all of our acne-friendly skincare products can be found here

When encouraging your teenager to incorporate acne-friendly skin care products into their routine, the AAD recommends only reminding them occasionally. One small study showed that fewer reminders from parents and guardians were more effective than daily reminders, which teens viewed as "nagging." 


Additional Tips to Consider

The AAD recommends these additional tips to help your teenager achieve clearer skin:

  • Never touch, pick or pop acne.
  • Keep hands off problem areas, like the face, to avoid flare-ups.
  • Wash pillowcases, hats and other things that touch acne-prone skin often.
  • Stay out of the sun and tanning beds.


If your teenager's acne continues to worsen despite good care at home or you are noticing changes in your teen's mental health, it is time to schedule a visit with a dermatologist. Your dermatologist can develop a treatment plan to improve their skin and acne. 

Based on the type and severity of acne, treatment might range from topical or oral medications to medical-grade skincare products to in-office treatments (like microdermabrasion, microneedling, chemical peels, photodynamic light therapy and vascular laser treatment). Keep in mind that spreading redness or draining pus can be signs of infection. If you notice these symptoms on your teenager's skin, we recommend that you seek immediate medical attention.

Here at the Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC, we do not believe in treating acne. We believe in curing acne. If you would like to make an appointment to discuss any acne changes your teen has had or ways to improve their acne, call us at (304) 598-3888 or click here to contact us online. We're currently accepting new patients and encourage you to make an appointment soon. 

We also recommend that you download our Guide to Acne to learn more about acne. 






5 ways to help your teenager survive acne

9 things to try when acne won't clear

How Stress Affects Acne

Topics: Acne/Rashes, skin care, acne treatment

Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

Written by Dermatology Center for Skin Health, PLLC

Our priority is to deliver complete, compassionate care to our patients while educating and assisting them as they make care decisions regarding the health and beauty of their skin.