Acne is a common problem that affects most teenagers at one time or another. It is caused by oil clogging the pores in your skin. The buildup of more oil and bacteria can then cause your skin to become red and inflamed. It commonly begins during puberty, because this is a time when many hormones increase and it is these hormones that cause your skin to produce more oil.
Acne is not caused by the foods that you eat (such as chocolate, soft drinks or greasy foods) or by dirt (blackheads are caused by a pigment, not dirt), and you can’t catch it from someone else. It can be made worse by pinching pimples, harsh scrubbing which irritates the skin, certain cosmetics which can further block oil ducts, and emotional stress.
Acne usually improves by the time you are twenty – twenty five years old, but teens can bring it under control sooner with the proper measures.
Wash (but don’t scrub) your skin twice a day with a mild soap (like Dove, Purpose or Cetaphil). Avoid harsh cleansers or scrubs, as they can irritate your skin.
Don’t pop or pinch pimples.
Use noncomedogenic cosmetics and moisturizers and don’t put oily or greasy substances on your face or hair.
The medicines used for treatment of acne include benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, retinoid creams, combinations of these products and herbal and natural skin care products.
Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% 5% 10%
This is one of the most effective acne medicine available OTC and helps to kill bacteria, unplug oil ducts and heal pimples. You should start with a low strength once a day and work up to 10% twice a day. Apply it to all areas where pimples occur, and not just on your current pimples.
If you do not see improvement in 4-6 weeks using OTC meds, then you should see your Pediatrician about using the following prescription medicines:
- Benzamycin Topical Gel
This is a combination of 5% Benzoyl Peroxide and Erythromycin (an antibiotic) and it must be kept in the refrigerator and may bleach clothing. Apply a thin layer of it to affected areas after washing once or twice a day. Use it in the morning only if you are also using Retin A at night.
- Benzaclin Topical Gel
This is a combination of 5% Benzoyl Peroxide and Clindamycin (an antibiotic) and doesn’t need to be kept in the refrigerator. Apply a thin layer of it to affected areas after washing once or twice a day. Use it in the morning only if you are also using Retin A at night.
- Retin A 0.025% 0.05% 0.1% cream
This cream helps unplug oil ducts and should be applied to the affected areas at least 20-30 minutes after washing (applying to wet skin may cause irritation). Use a small amount (one pea-sized dose is enough for your entire face) every third night, and if tolerated, increase to every other night and then every night.
If your skin can’t tolerate Retin A cream, there is a Retin A-Microsphere gel that is less irritating, or we can try some of the newer medicines, including Azelex, Tazorac or Differen gel.
Oral antibiotics such as Minocin are sometimes used if topical therapy doesn’t clear up your acne. They are used twice a day until your acne has cleared up (usually 1-3 months), and then are slowly weaned off.
It is not uncommon for the skin to become red, dry and irritated when beginning to use acne medicines. This usually improves with time, but here are some suggestions to minimize irritation:
Use moisturizers if your skin is becoming dry.
If starting more than one new medicine, consider starting with just one and then waiting two or three weeks before beginning the other one.
You can also begin a new medicine by applying it every third night, and then gradually increasing it to every other night and then every night.
Another alternative is washing the medicine off after about five minutes. Each night, you can then leave it on for longer periods of time before washing it off.
In general liquid and solution forms of medications are less irritating than creams and gels, so you can try using a different form of the medication if you can’t tolerate it well.
Seeing a Dermatologist
While most primary care physicians can treat mild and moderate acne, you should consider seeing a specialist if you have severe cystic acne that may lead to scarring, if you are not improving with your current regimen, if you have very sensitive skin and can’t tolerate topical medicines, or if your doctor is not comfortable treating acne. A Dermatologist may be able to use different combinations of the above medicines or may put you on Accutane, an oral retinoic acid that you take daily for three to four months.
Be patient. It can take 3-6 weeks to see improvement and your acne may get worse before it starts getting better.
Use your medicines every day. If your skin is getting too irritated, red or dry, then start using them every other day. It takes time for your skin to adapt to your new medicines.
Don’t overdo it! Scrubbing your skin or using too much of these medicines can irritate and dry out your skin and won’t make your pimples go away any quicker.
Protect your skin from the sun. These medicines will make your skin more sensitive to the effects of the sun.
Call your physician if you haven’t improved in 4-6 weeks with your current regimen.
What our customers say:
“From age 16 to age 27 I had severe, unrelenting acne and like many of your customers I tried everything. Every anti-biotic, every topical lotion and cream, every diet and skin care regime. Nothing worked until finally I tried Accutane. That finally worked but the side effects and cost were daunting. But after 11 years of acne my self esteem was so wrecked and I was so desperate that I would have walked a mile barefoot on broken glass if I thought it would help. Well here I am now at age 37 and I have been suffering, again, from increasingly worse acne over the last year. I was devastated. I am a veteran of that particular war and could not bear the thought of fighting it again. And let me tell you it is almost worse for my self esteem now than it was as a young adult. It is at least somewhat understandable for a teenager to have it but for someone approaching middle age it just is not right. I feel like people are looking at me like I have a disease. All those terrible memories of not even being able to leave the house for a brief errand without doing the full course of make-up have come crashing back because I am living them again. Having been down that road I know what works and what does not so I knew that none of the conventional wisdom or treatments are worth much at all when it comes to acne. Accutane works but besides the afore mentioned cost and side effects, you have to wait for years after the treatment to have any kind of scar removal surgery. Since using your product my skin has improved fantastically. From the very first application it just looked better, being more smooth and having a bit of a glow. The outbreaks of acne are getting less and less each week and some of the lesser scars are looking more smooth. I hope your product will help with scarring but some of it in my temples and the hollows of my cheeks is probably just to severe. However the rest of my face is looking pretty good for scar improvement. But the real and pronounced benefit is the extreme reduction of acne. I know for a fact that the creme is keeping it under control and I can have my life back again without my every activity being dictated by this condition. All I can say to anyone who is considering buying this product is DO IT NOW! The sooner you start the sooner you will be looking good. It really works without the nasty side effects and cost of a lot of treatments I have tried. It is so refreshing and just about stunning to find a product that actually does what it says. So many companies are experts at telling carefully crafted lies about their products to get people to buy them but not very competent at all about producing a worthy product. Your company really does have something legitimate to sell; something that truely benefits people. Keep up the good work! ”
Laurel Peters. Colorado, USA.