How to choose the right acne treatment for teens
How to Treat Acne (Teen Boys)
Acne is very common among teenagers—about 90% of boys have it at some point between the ages of 12 and 18—but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Luckily, there are lots of options to help you treat breakouts as they happen and clear up your skin for good.
Using Commercial Skin Care Products
Use over-the-counter products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acid.These ingredients are dermatologist approved for treating mild acne effectively. The best commercial products for the treatment of acne will contain one or a combination of these three ingredients. However, some people can be allergic to these ingredients or develop dry or irritated skin due to these ingredients. Talk to your dermatologist if you are concerned about having an allergic reaction to any of these ingredients.
- If you have normal or oily skin that is not overly sensitive, you can use products with a high concentration of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acid. Using products that contain all three ingredients will often clear up mild acne within two to three months. You could use a cleanser with one or two of the ingredients, and a leave-on cream with the others, for example.
- If you have sensitive skin that may be allergic to salicylic acid, causing chapping and dryness, you can still use products that contain benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid, or a combination of both.
- Some people can be allergic or sensitive to benzoyl peroxide. In addition, if your skin just gets extra-dry using these products, look for milder strengths, such as 2.5% benzoyl peroxide instead of 10%.
- Possible over-the-counter brands include Clean & Clear, Proactiv, Neutrogena, Clearasil, and Oxy. These products can come in the form of creams, cleansers, gels, or lotions. You may experience redness and dryness as your skin adjusts to the products. Apply an oil-free facial moisturizer to help your skin deal with the dryness.
Talk to your dermatologist about prescription benzoyl peroxide.If your acne is more severe or if your acne doesn't clear up after using over-the-counter products for two to three months, you can ask your dermatologist about prescription benzoyl peroxide. This treatment can come in the form of washes, wipes, masks, and leave-on lotions and gels. Your dermatologist will start you off slowly on this treatment, with a suggested application two to three times a week until you work up to once every night.
- Wash and dry your face well before applying benzoyl peroxide to your face, and make sure your skin is clean and dry before you use benzoyl peroxide wipes on areas that are prone to acne, such as your back or your chest. Use a very small amount of the product on your face, about the size of a pea, and be prepared for your skin to turn red or appear dry as it gets used to the product.
- If your skin becomes very dry and starts to peel, you should cut down on the number of days that you use the product and apply oil-free moisturizer. As well, you should invest in white pillowcases and white towels, as benzoyl peroxide has a “bleach-like” quality that can leave white marks on colored fabrics. Avoid bleaching your clothes by rinsing your face and body well after using benzoyl peroxide products.
Ask your dermatologist about taking topical retinoids.Another option for severe acne or acne that does not improve after two to three months of over-the-counter treatment is taking a prescription strength formula for acne, such as topical retinoids. Your dermatologist can prescribe retinoids in pill form or cream form and provide dosage information on how often you should take or apply the retinoids.
- Topical retinoid products work by helping to even out the outer layer of your skin (the epidermis) and encourage your skin to shed dead skin cells. Your dermatologist may suggest you use topical retinoids along with prescription benzoyl peroxide products to treat your acne.
- Start by using retinoids every other day or twice a week so your body can get used to the products. You may experience peeling on the surface of your skin when you first use retinoids, but after regular use three to seven times a week for four to six weeks, your skin should appear more clear and even. Applying a moisturizer after the retinoid should help with dryness.
- There is now a topical retinoid gel that is available over-the-counter, called Differin gel (adapalene). This is a mild brand of retinoid, but you should still start treatment slowly so your body can get used to the product.
Consider adding antibiotics to your treatment.Your doctor may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic to help treat your acne. The antibiotics will kill excess bacteria and reduce redness, and can be prescribed to use alongside benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid.Topical antibiotics are safe for long-term use, but oral antibiotics will used short-term, probably just for the first few months.
Speak to your doctor about taking oral medications for acne.If your acne still does not improve with prescription topical acne medication, your primary care doctor or dermatologist may suggest that you try an oral medication for severe acne, such as Accutane or Isotretinoin. These products are formulated to prevent clogged pores and to stop oil production in your skin so the bacteria that causes acne cannot survive. However, there are several adverse effects for these products and you must be closely monitored by your dermatologist when on this medication.
- The exact dosage of oral medications for severe acne will depend on your body weight. You should avoid the sun as much as possible when on Isotretinoin or Accutane and always wear 30 SPF or higher when going outside.
- You will need to schedule regular check ups with your doctor to ensure the medication is working properly and is not causing any adverse effects. Your doctor will need to monitor blood tests regularly while you take this medication.
Ask your dermatologist about other options.If these methods don't help your acne, there are still other treatments, including lasers, light treatments, microdermabrasion, or chemical peels to help clear your skin. These can be very effective in treating your acne, and are sometimes covered by insurance. Ask your doctor about these options and if any of them are right for you.
Practicing Good Skin Care Habits
Never squeeze, scrub, or pick at your acne.Though it may be tempting to pop a zit or pick at your acne, doing so can cause the skin to become even more inflamed and lead more acne as well as acne scars. Instead, make sure you wash the area well and apply skin care products that will work to treat and heal your acne.
- Never use any sharp tools on your skin, even if it is advertised as an acne removal tool. This can lead to permanent damage to your skin that can be difficult to treat or that will require more intense skin care treatments to heal.
Avoid touching your face with your hands.If you have a habit of resting your chin, cheek, or forehead in your hands, try to avoid doing this. If possible, try not to touch your face at all throughout the day. Your hands are carriers of bacteria and germs that may only make your acne worse if they end up on your face.
- As well, if you tend to have oily hair or if you have longer hair, keep it clean and away from your face. Oil from your hair can make your face and neck extra oily, leading to possible breakouts and acne in these areas.
- Avoid wearing baseball caps or hats throughout the day, as these can cause acne to develop on your hairline or your forehead. Wash your caps and hats often if you wear them on a daily basis so they do not carry any bacteria that can get onto your skin.
- Make sure your cell phone is clean, as you can get breakouts where your phone rests on your face.
Wash your face twice a day.To make sure you are removing dead skin cells from your skin that can cause acne, you should wash your face twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Use a cleansing product that contains salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or glycolic acid to treat your acne effectively. Avoid scrubbing your face hard with a washcloth when you clean your face. Instead, use your fingers to gently massage the product into your skin.
- If your skin is very sensitive, then wash with a gentle facial skin cleanser such as Cetaphil or Eucerin.
- You should also always wash your face after exercising or playing sports as oil buildup due to sweating can make your acne worse.
Shave only when necessary.If you are starting to grow facial hair, you may be tempted to start shaving. However, shaving can irritate acne-prone skin and lead to more breakouts. As well, you may end up nicking a pimple while shaving, which could cause inflammation. If you do need to shave, try to shave as lightly as possible on the surface of your skin to avoid irritating your acne.
- If you are using a safety razor when shaving, soften your facial hair with warm water and soap before you shave so you do not have to press too hard on your skin.
Use oil-free sunscreen and moisturizer.Though your skin may appear better after a day out in the sun, in the long term, sunlight can actually make your acne worse and lead to sun damage on your face. As well, many acne products can make your skin more vulnerable to burning. Protect your skin by applying oil-free sunscreen before you go outside, even if it is not sunny outside.
- Many commercial acne products can dry out your skin, especially if your skin is still trying to get used to the ingredients in the product. To prevent dryness or chapped skin, use a moisturizer that is oil-free and noncomedogenic. This will ensure the moisturizer does not clog your pores or irritate your skin.
- Avoid using moisturizers that are heavy in oils, such as Vaseline and mineral oils. These products will only increase the buildup of oil and debris on your skin and make your acne worse. Ask your dermatologist to recommend an oil-free moisturizer, based on your skin type and the severity of your acne.
QuestionCan I apply both moisturizer and sunscreen at the same time?
Doctor of MedicineDoctor of MedicineExpert AnswerMany good facial moisturizers come in a version for daytime use that includes sunscreen. This is a good option when you need both. Look for SPF of 30 or higher. However, you may need to re-apply the sunscreen if you are outside more than a few hours. Then you could use the same moisturizer/sunscreen, or just a sunscreen.Thanks!
QuestionWhat foods should I avoid if I have acne?
Doctor of MedicineDoctor of MedicineExpert AnswerMost acne is not related to what you eat. We think that some people may have worse acne when they drink a lot of milk or eat a lot of sugary foods. You can try reducing milk and sugary foods for a few weeks and see if it helps your skin. In general, it's best to eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of fluids if you have acne.Thanks!
QuestionI have used acne products, but they've only made the problem worse, what can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerStop using the products that are making it worse. Simply wash and moisturize your face twice a day. Try not to stress too much, drink more water, and don't touch your face when you are not washing it. If the situation doesn't improve, you might want to see a dermatologist.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I don't have all these acids and creams?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou're not supposed to use all of them at once. Choose one treatment. If you don't currently have any, you'll need to buy one. And make sure to follow all of the guidelines under Method 2.Thanks!
QuestionHow to remove marks from pimples?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThanks!
Short Video: How to Treat Acne (Teen Boys)
The quickest way to get rid of acne as a teen boy is to wash your face twice a day. Look for over-the-counter cleansers, creams, or lotions with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acid. To avoid irritating acne-prone skin, shave your face only when you need to and never pick at or pop pimples. If over-the-counter products don’t work, talk to your dermatologist about getting a prescription medication, like topical retinoids.
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