Acne is a skin condition that affects approximately 85 percent of American teenagers each year, according to the American Association of Dermatology. The symptoms of acne include blemishes in the affected area such as pimples, blackheads, zits, cysts and whiteheads. Acne can occur on the face, neck, back, shoulders and chest and is usually caused by hormonal changes that occur during the teenage years.
Acne skin care, according to the Mayo Clinic, has four functions: increase cell turnover, fight infection, decrease oil production and reduce inflammation. This is done through home skin care and medications. When an acne treatment plan accomplishes all of these functions, the treatment is considered a success, and the acne is controlled.
Home Skin Care
Keeping the acne-prone area clean is one component of a successful acne skin care plan. Washing the affected area with a gentle cleanser twice a day is recommended. For an active teen, it is sometimes necessary to wipe the area using a damp towel or to rinse the area after sweating. Because bacteria can worsen acne, it is important to keep your hands and other objects away from the acne-prone area unless they are clean. This includes your cell phone, which should be cleaned with antibacterial wipes before use.
Acne treatments are available in over-the-counter (OTC) medications and prescription medications. Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are the two most common OTC acne-fighting medications. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, OTC medications can take up to eight weeks to provide significant results.
If a teen requires prescription treatments, retinoids and antibiotics are usually prescribed. For a teen with severe cystic acne, isotretinoin may be prescribed. This course of treatment usually takes 15 to 20 weeks to complete and requires the teen to participate in a monitoring program because of the risk of birth defects if the teen gets pregnant or gets someone pregnant during the treatment course.
Food causing acne breakouts is a myth; however, eating greasy foods may worsen acne if the teen doesn’t practice good skin care after eating the food by wiping off any oil that was transferred to the skin. Using cosmetics that aren’t labeled non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic can trigger an acne outbreak. Some hair products, such as pomade and other oil-based products, can also trigger outbreaks, according to AcneNet.
The American Academy of Dermatology states that there isn’t any effective overnight treatment for acne. Because of the length of time it takes for acne to clear, some teens may become frustrated with the treatment. It is, however, important to continue the treatment because acne usually won’t clear up on its own without the teen risking scarring in the affected area. A teen with severe acne or uncontrolled acne may suffer from low self esteem, depression and anxiety.