Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

Finding the Best Acne Treatment for Teens – What Really Works?

By Dr. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC, Double board-certified dermatologist

Acne is a stressful part of adolescence, affecting 85% of teens. While common, acne can leave teenagers feeling alone and insecure, desperate for solutions.

The good news? There are some accessible treatments on the market that can reduce existing teen acne and help prevent breakouts in the future. Clearer skin is on the horizon!

This article covers everything you need to know about the best treatments for acne, tips for parents and teens, and answers to frequently asked questions.

What Causes Teen Acne?

In the past, teenage zits were wrongly blamed on bad hygiene and junk food. However, the biggest cause is actually the increase in stress and sex hormones during adolescence. This hormonal stew causes increased inflammation and sensitivity to acne-causing bacteria on the face and body.

Over-The-Counter Acne Spot Treatments

The best teen acne treatments strike a balance between treating the acne and nourishing the skin.

There are a variety of readily available products that accomplish these goals, such as:

OTC Retinoids: Retinoids exfoliate and unclog pores but often require a prescription. However, adapalene (sold as Differin), is available over-the-counter.

Benzoyl PeroxideReduces acne-causing 🦠 bacteria and inflammation and can be found in over-the-counter brands such as ProactivNeutrogena, and Clearasil. However, these brands tend to overuse benzoyl peroxide which can dry out the skin, ultimately making the acne worse (it should be used in low doses of 2.5%).

Salicylic Acid: Treatments containing salicylic acid cleanse pores down to the hair follicle, plus they have anti-inflammatory properties that can be soothing for painful pustules.

Comprehensive Skincare Systems

The best acne treatments tackle the issue from all sides, with a combination of active ingredients that cleanse pores, renew cells, and moisturize the skin at the same time. Popular systems such as Proactiv promise this, but they can end up making acne worse by using unbalanced ingredients. Plus, they charge big money for poor results (as seen time and again in Proactiv reviews).

The Exposed Skincare line, however, is the most underrated complete acne system on the market. It combines just the right concentration of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid to clear the pores and kill bacteria. It also contains natural additives such as aloe vera and sage extract to prevent drying. Plus, it contains azelaic acid which works similarly to Retin-A (a prescription treatment) by encouraging cell turnover, keeping the pores unclogged and clear.

Exposed Skincare doesn’t require costly and time-consuming doctor appointments, nor does it cause nasty side-effects such as dryness and sun sensitivity. Oh, and it certainly helps that it’s very affordable, especially when compared with similar (yet less effective) systems on the market.

Prescription Options

If products like Exposed Skincare aren’t giving you the results you’re looking for, it may be time to get prescription-strength solutions from a dermatologist. Some products they might prescribe include:

Antibiotics: Hormone changes in teenagers can cause an increase in bacteria living on the skin, which means a topical or oral antibiotic can help.

Birth Control: Birth control addresses the main cause of teenage-specific acne: hormone fluctuations. Birth control can even out hormones in teenage girls and help reduce hormonal skin troubles.

Isotretinoin: This prescription medication (under the brand name Accutane) is often used for cystic or severe acne that has proven resistant to other treatments. Isotretinoin can take 4 to 5 months to show results and requires consistent follow-up visits to your dermatologist. Note that Accutane comes with serious side effects, so it should only be approached if absolutely necessary.

Tips For Teens

Get more sleep

Stress hormones play a major role in teenage skin issues so it’s important to take measures to reduce stress and get sufficient sleep. “But we have school, extra-curriculars, and a social life!” you exclaim. Fair enough, but if your body doesn’t get enough restful sleep when it can break down stress hormones, they will build up in your system, inflaming acne-prone skin.

Limit starchy, white foods

Another lifestyle change that can help with acne is lowering your sugar intake. High glycemic foods such as white bread or white rice can cause blood glucose levels and blood insulin levels to rise, leading to the production of hormones that increase oil production, which can cause acne.

Watch out for PCOS symptoms

Teenage girls with troublesome skin and unwelcome hair growth may be dealing with a variation of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) that does not cause ovarian cysts or disruptions to the menstrual cycle. This form of PCOS causes non-diabetic insulin resistance, which leaves the ovaries with a lot of excess sugar to “burn.” The ovaries do this by creating extra testosterone, which can cause increased sebum production. Cutting down on sugar can reduce blood-insulin levels and testosterone production. If you suspect you (or your teen) have PCOS, discuss this with your doctor.

The best acne treatments take time, try to be patient

It can be hard to stick to a complicated skincare routine when it’s been 2 weeks and you still haven’t noticed any improvement. Remember that most treatments take a little while to start visibly working, so try to follow one routine for at least 6 weeks. If you still don’t see any improvement, speak with a dermatologist.

Keep following your treatment plan, even after your acne clears up

Teenage acne is largely caused by hormones, meaning that if you stop treatment, it will likely come back. Teenage acne is all about maintenance, which means once you find a routine you’re comfortable with, stick to it!

Don’t forget the sunscreen

Many acne products make your skin extra sensitive to the ☀️ sun, so apply oil-free sunscreen to exposed skin every morning.

Shower after gym

During a vigorous workout session or gym class, sweat and dead skin cells combine and clog your pores. When left, this can feed bacteria and cause more acne, especially when combined with tight, sweat-trapping clothing and gear. Take a hot shower to remove sweat and built-up grime from skin after exercising.

Don’t touch!

It can be so tempting to squeeze your pimples or obsessively touch them. Resist! Squeezing pimples can force the bacteria deeper into the skin, worsening the issue. Plus, constant touching can add further bacteria to existing pimples and surrounding skin.

Avoid cigarettes and alcohol

While there are countless reasons to avoid 🚬 cigarettes and alcohol, acne prevention is one. Cigarettes deplete your body’s stores of antioxidants that regulate sebum production.

Alcohol causes red, inflamed face as it breaks down into acetaldehyde, which also leads to increased sebum production.

Tips For Parents:

Take teenage acne seriously, but don’t encourage any shame surrounding it

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects teenagers so much that it can lead to anxiety and depression. As a parent, it’s important to approach acne without shame or catastrophizing. Keep an open dialogue and let your teen know that their acne doesn’t define them and that it’s a totally normal part of growing up.

Encourage your teen to change their sheets, pillowcase, and towel frequently

Frequent-use linens can collect bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells, which can lead to more acne if not washed regularly.

Remind your teenager to wash their sheets, pillowcases (a carrier of bacteria that transfers to the face), and towel at least once a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. I have dark/ethnic skin; will benzoyl peroxide affect my skin pigmentation?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, benzoyl peroxide does not cause skin lightening or create light spots on your skin. As for darkening, research at this time is inconsistent.

2. How do you get rid of acne naturally? Are there any at-home methods?

When trying natural or DIY options, do your research as some natural or homemade acne treatments advertised online can make your acne worse. It’s best to stick to a formulated product or system such as Exposed Skincare, as the guesswork has been done for you.

3. How do you get rid of teenage acne?

Start by trying an effective “rated best treatment” acne system such as Exposed Skincare. If you see no improvement after the recommended duration, chat to your doctor or dermatologist about more serious treatments such as the contraceptive pill or topical treatments.

4. What is the best acne treatment for teenage guys?

The best treatment for acne for teen guys is one they can stick to without too much thought. A skincare system such as Exposed Skincare has everything in one kit and is simple to use twice a day. Guys: wash your face after working out, and don’t shave over your pimples as shaving can cause excess redness and spread bacteria over the face. Remember to use your oil-free moisturizer twice a day to keep the skin soft, comfortable, and free to renew and repair.

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