While there is no cure for
, this chronic
can be managed very effectively.
have a wide range of treatment options, including medications, chemical peels and laser light applications. That’s important to adolescents and their parents because severe acne can be painful, emotionally upsetting and may cause permanent scarring.
Acne is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by clogged pores, blackheads and pimples. It occurs when the sebaceous glands produce too much of an oily substance called sebum that combines with dead skin cells and blocks the tiny hair follicles. If untreated, these whiteheads and blackheads can turn into unsightly and uncomfortable pimples, cysts and nodules deep in the skin. In teens, rising hormone levels are thought to be a factor in problematic acne conditions.
If acne is a chronic problem or if acute breakouts occur, it’s important to see your child’s dermatologist. You can help your doctor by jotting down notes about your child’s skin condition. Do acne flare-ups occur at certain times of the month? Are they linked with medications or certain foods? Or are pimples just a stubborn condition that persists no matter what your child does?
Your doctor may prescribe topical medications. The most common are retinoids (such as Retin-A) that work by unclogging pores and reducing
. Other medications include antibiotics that kill bacteria and reducing inflammation and benzoyl peroxide. Some medications are available over the counter, while others require a prescription. Your doctor may also prescribe oral antibiotics for severe acne that does not improve with other medications.
One of the newer treatment options is photodynamic therapy, where topical medications are used to enhance the effect of laser light. Another approach is using vacuum suction to remove oil and dead skin cells from the sebaceous glands, a process called photopneumatic therapy. Steroid injections may be helpful in treating painful cysts and nodules that are well below the surface of the skin.
To improve the appearance of skin scarred by acne, a dermatologist may recommend chemical peeling (applying a solution to the skin) or dermabrasion (using a rapidly rotating brush to remove the top layers of skin). Lasers are also used to remove the top layer of skin and reduce scarring.
It’s important to remember that most treatments take six to eight weeks to produce results. Be patient and follow your doctor’s recommendations.
Managing acne usually involves removing dead cells and oily secretions from the skin and preventing bacteria build-ups. Encourage your child to do the following:
— Wash skin once or twice a day with a mild cleanser. Washing more often, scrubbing skin or using facial masks can make acne worse.
— Use oil-free skin care products and cosmetics. Look for water-based products.
— Try over-the-counter lotions containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
— Reduce sweating and friction on your skin from headbands, backpacks, bicycle helmets or tight collars
— Don’t squeeze or pick whiteheads, blackheads or pimples, as that may cause scarring.
— Talk with your doctor about whether eating foods high in vitamin A or certain herbs may also be helpful in controlling acne.