Recently teenagers have been popping into my office asking me what causes their acne. Let me break out some information on this topic.
Acne is the most common skin disease in America, affecting more than 20 million (or 90% of) teenagers and young adults. Its caused by overactive oil glands in the skin, stimulated by a childs overactive hormones. These glands produce secretions that allow bacteria to grow inside the pores and clog them. The result is the small red bumps we call pimples, or, technically, acne.
First, lets dispel the rumors about acne. Acne is not caused by anything your child eats, and that includes chocolate, French fries, and pizza. Everyday stress and oil-free, water-based cosmetics also have no effect on the condition. Dirty skin does not cause acne, and aggressive scrubbing may actually inflame it. Also it is important to remember that acne (despite the bacteria growing in the pimples) is not contagious.
As for skin care, the best approach is for your child to gently wash his or her face twice a day with a mild soap and then pat it dry. Picking and poking at acne will only make it last longer and look worse. It could also cause scarring.
The good news is that acne doesnt last forever, and it can be cleared up with medications that contain benzoyl peroxide; these are widely available over r the counter. Your child should apply a very thin coat over the entire face; a pea-sized amount is plenty. If your childs face becomes too red or overly dry, too much is being used.
If that doesnt work, your childs doctor can recommend stronger medications, such as prescription topical retinoic acid or antibiotics that can reduce the inflammation.
These tips, and some parental empathy, will go along way toward dealing with your childs acne.