The teenage years are typically the time period for the worst acne in life. Rapid hormonal changes associated with puberty are one of the primary factors behind the formation of acne.
Additionally, many teens play sports or have phys ed classes that may lead them to getting very sweaty on a regular basis without the ability to clean up easily. The end result is that this is typically the worst time in a person’s life for the development of acne.
OTC Treatments for Teenage Acne
While you should talk to your doctor before starting acne treatments, over the counter lotions and creams that are approved for safe use in adults are generally considered safe for teenagers as well. In the United States, generally everyone over the age of 12 is considered an “adult” whereas those under 12 are considered children and have separate guidelines.
The typical compounds used for home acne treatment in teenagers is the same as adults: topical solutions of benzoyl peroxide and salicyclic acid. Concentrations range from 2.5% to 10% for benzoyl peroxide and 1-2% for salicylic acid.
The Biggest Worry for Teen Acne Treatment
However, for some teenagers, OTC acne treatments may not be enough or may not produce strong enough results. Teenagers can be very body-conscious and even a single pimple or two can seriously worry them. As a result, many turn to dermatologist treatments for acne management. Since most procedures are out of the budget for most teens, prescription medication is the most commonly recommended form of treatment.
One of the most popular treatments for teenagers with severe acne is Accutane (or its generic isotretinoin). This medication is only used under the supervision of a doctor because it can cause liver damage. Regular bloodwork can monitor the health of the liver. Teenage bodies are actually quite resilient and if anything can actually handle this sort of thing at least as well as an adult.
Instead, the primary worry for teenagers on Accutane is the emotional and mental side effects. Accutane is known to cause severe depression as well as suicidal thoughts. Many teens are not emotionally stable given that their minds, thoughts, bodies, hormones, and place in the world are all changing rapidly. This lack of a good base makes a medication with such negative mental consequences even more worrisome. Parents and medical professionals monitoring a teenager on this sort of medication need to be extra diligent to check for side effects. The teenager that is severely depressed may not realize what is happening to them and may not communicate it to the adults in their lives.
High School Sports and Teenagers
Another small change that might make a big difference for teenagers is relevant for those that are playing sports. Sport pads and equipment get very dirty and are often in close contact with the skin. The primary offenders of this are helmets, headbands, and sweatbands.
These should be cleaned daily to help prevent acne from forming. Naturally helmets cannot be washed directly, but they can be cleaned with an antibacterial and anti-grime pad cleaner formulated for the purpose. The teen should also wash their face immediately before practice.