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Teen Acne: A Battle You Can Win

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Teens face many challenges: school becomes more difficult, social groups expand and change to include boyfriends and girlfriends, driving licenses and jobs are needed, etc. But one of the toughest changes teenagers can face is a change in their skin. As many as 40% of teens will have acne scarring and will need to seek out a dermatologist. Acne can be caused by hormone changes, stress, medications, cosmetics, genetics, and even humidity. But having acne doesn't mean you have to live with it forever. There are several steps you can take to improve the condition of your skin and minimize acne.

Start with washing your face

You'll need to wash your face with more than just soap and water. You should try using some benzoyl peroxide. Available in face washes, gels, bars, and creams, benzoyl peroxide fights against the bacterial factors that cause acne and helps to clear clogged pores. Once those pores are clear, the benzoyl peroxide will help keep them that way. It is best to start with a gentler cleanser. Stronger concentrations of benzoyl peroxide can be harsh on sensitive skin and can cause irritation and dryness. If after a month or two you don't notice a difference, you can increase the strength of the product you are using.

If benzoyl peroxide doesn't seem to do the trick for you or you'd prefer to try another ingredient, look for cleansers with salicylic acid. Also available in many forms, salicylic acid breaks down white heads and black heads and unclogs pores. Both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can take as long as two months to work effectively against acne, so don't give up if you don't see immediate results. However if after eight weeks you don't notice any changes, it may be time for the next step.

Call a doctor

Make an appointment with a dermatologist, like Southwest Dermatology Institute. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating skin issues and your acne certainly qualifies. You and the doctor can discuss the next level of treatment which can include:

  • prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide treatments
  • antibiotic pills you can take or antibiotic medicine you put directly on your skin to combat the bacterias that cause acne 
  • retinoid creams to unclog pores and dissolve blackheads and whiteheads

If nothing else works, your doctor may start you on a drug called isotretinoin. It's a pill that shrinks your oil glands, and you would take it once or twice a day for about six months. However, it is a very strong medicine that can cause side effects such as depression and birth defects; so while it is an incredibly effective treatment, it is often only used once all other options have failed.

Be patient and consistent

The best thing you can do for yourself in the fight against acne is to exercise patience and consistency in your treatment. No result will be instantaneous. Follow the directions on the product you are using and stick to your treatment plan. Staying the course will produce the best result, even if it doesn't happen as quickly as you might like.

Acne is a challenge for many teens, but there are several options to combat it. If over-the-counter products don't work for you, make an appointment with your dermatologist for some help. With treatment, patience and care, you can win the fight against your acne.