If you’ve made it through your teen years without a breakthrough, consider yourself a unicorn. According to the US National Institutes of Health, acne is a skin disorder that mainly affects the face, shoulders, chest, and back.

Fueled by fluctuating hormones that increase oil production (sometimes exacerbated by teenagers’ desperate attempts to make it all stop), acne occurs when that oil (also known as sebum) occurs. ) combine with dead skin cells, trapping bacteria, causing inflammation and clogging pores, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“To keep the skin from drying out, the skin produces oil in tiny wells called ‘sebaceous glands’ found in the deeper layers of the skin. “Whiteheads” or “blackheads” are blocked sebaceous glands. Blackheads are not caused by dirt clogging the pores, but by oxidation (a chemical reaction that occurs when oil reacts with oxygen in the air). People with acne have glands that produce more oil and become clogged easily, causing these glands to swell,” says Adnan Mir, MD, Committee Chair of the American Society of Pediatric Dermatology, and Assistant Professor at the University of California. New York School of Medicine, and a dermatologist at Dermpath Diagnostics explains. in Port Chester, New York.

Mona Gohara, MD, a dermatologist at Dermatology Physicians of Connecticut, says there’s no standard age or length of time when this “oily increase” of sebum subsides. “It’s purely genetic,” she said. “Some people never get it, for some it lasts 5 years.” And your acne may not end with your teen years — studies have shown that up to 22% of adult women experience acne at one point or another.

Furthermore, acne can affect teenagers’ already fragile self-esteem. The New England Journal of Medicine notes that “the psychological effects of acne can be profound, and people with acne are at risk of experiencing significant, negative effects on quality of life, similar to These effects occur in people with asthma, epilepsy or arthritis. Adolescents and adults with acne have higher rates of anxiety, low self-worth, and depression than those without acne.”

Best treatment for teenage acne

In general, there are two ways to treat teen acne and pimples: washing your face first with an appropriate cleanser and treating them topically when they break out.

Wash your face twice a day with a gentle (soap-free!)

“Always wash your face daily and twice a day if your skin is oily or dirty throughout the day,” says Samer Jaber, MD, founder of Washington Square Dermatology in New York City. Be sure to remove makeup before bed (Kleenex skincare expert Gohara, recommends using Soothing Lotion Cleansing Wipes with Aloe to remove makeup from lips to prevent dryness) and try to wash your face clean. after work.

Here are 5 products to try:

Dove Beauty Bar

Gohara says a soap-free cleanser, like the affordable Dove Beauty Bar, cleans without aggravating already inflamed skin.

La Roche Posay, Effaclar Gel Cleanser for Oily Skin

Mir says people with acne should look for non-comedogenic products because they won’t clog pores. This foaming cleanser – recommended by Gohara – is both non-comedogenic and contains zinc pidolate, which has astringent, anti-inflammatory properties to improve acne.

CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for normal to oily skin

“Foam cleansers are better for people with oily skin,” says Jabar, who loves this CeraVe product. “Cleanses with ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide can be very helpful for those with acne, but be careful as they can irritate and dry out the skin.”

Pimples? Treat them on the spot

All three dermatologists recommend topical treatment of pimples, from the second they recur until they disappear, preferably using a product containing a retinoid, benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid.

Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

“Differin gel is the only OTC retinoid available without a prescription and has been a prescription drug for many years,” says Jaber. “If there’s one thing to do about your acne, start using Differin gel before bed. Wash off with a gentle cleanser, pat dry and apply Differin the size of a pea all over the face.”

Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Treatment Gel

This topical treatment, with 10% benzoyl peroxide, has been mentioned by both Gohara and Jabar for its powerful properties.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, Glass Bottle Drying Cream

Jaber recommends this tried-and-true quick-drying recipe for anyone allergic to benzoyl peroxide. It contains salicylic acid to fight acne and calamine to calm irritated skin.

What makes teen acne worse?

Wash your face too often

Believe it or not, washing your face too much can make teen skin more prone to breakouts. “One of the mistakes I often see with teenagers is that they really want better skin care, and so they’re over-drying their skin,” says Jaber. “Dry skin can actually make acne worse.”

Pile on trendy products

“Teens tend to turn to their favorite YouTuber or influencer and start putting what I call the ‘kitchen sink approach’ in their face, and that can spark flare,” says Gohara.Acne can take five to seven days to calm down and go away, so it’s important that you stick to a basic routine and make time for it.

Scrubbing or over-exfoliating

Mir says teen skin is already shedding dead skin cells on its own, so he doesn’t recommend using apricot scrubs or scrubs containing granules as these can be abrasive. and cause irritation. Gohara also said that scrubbing is also a bad thing to do. “Sometimes, teens think acne is caused by dirt and they start exfoliating, but scrubbing isn’t good and washing your face too much isn’t good either,” she says, and recommends teens use the product. gently exfoliate once a week, in the form of a glycolic swab. Here are some suggested options:

Glycolix Exfoliating Treatment Pad, Elite Glycolic Acid

Gohara says the exfoliator is gentle but effective and easy to use, especially after teen sporting events.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

Gohara says these pads, made for sensitive skin, gently exfoliate with an alcohol-free (non-drying) formula.

Don’t get pimples

While it’s not the absolute worst thing a teen can do (if a pimple pops up on top), all three dermatologists warn against popping a pimple — spot treatment will work. than. “Picking and squeezing pimples can lead to scarring, because you increase inflammation. Sometimes a dermatologist will do it, and some people feel compelled to pick and pop, but that’s something we’d like to discourage,” says Mir.

When to see a dermatologist for acne treatment?

If acne leaves scars or isn’t responding to a routine of gentle cleansing, exfoliation, and regular spot treatment, you should probably consult a dermatologist, says Gohara. “Some people need something stronger to control their acne, such as an oral antibiotic,” says Gohara.

And teenagers shouldn’t be discouraged. While acne can be really annoying, 99.9% of cases are curable, says Gohara.

More advice from a dermatologist

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