Teen Acne

Teen Acne

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Nearly every teen will find at least one blackhead or whitehead on their skin before adulthood. In most cases, the lesion will go away on its own, sometimes without treatment. In others, the acne will become severe and leave behind scars that persist into adulthood. Every person’s skin is unique, which means acne will affect you differently depending on your age, skin type, lifestyle, and a range of environmental factors.

Teen acne might seem like a passing experience, but in many cases, acne returns later in life. Seeing a dermatologist as a teenager is a great way to understand how your skin responds to certain ingredients and treatments. Visiting a doctor now will help you develop a personalized strategy for treating breakouts, whether they happen now, just before high school graduation, or right after you get that mid-career promotion.

What Causes Teen Acne?

Teen acne can have a range of causes, and it can appear nearly anywhere on the body. Here are some of the most common causes of teen acne. Some require a dermatologist, while others are easily treated with over-the-counter products.

  • Acne Vulgaris: This is likely the type of acne with which you are most familiar. It most commonly occurs on the face, but it can also appear on the back. Acne vulgaris is characterized by whitehead and blackhead pimples, and it appears as a result of hormonal changes, such as puberty.


  • Acne Mechanica: This type of acne is most often seen on the back and arms. It is caused by the friction generated when clothing fits too tightly. Most of our Chesterfield patients with acne mechanica are high school athletes who wear padding or skin-tight athletic clothing, like football players and swimmers.


  • Keratosis Pilaris: These patchy bumps are not uncomfortable, but they are rough to the touch. The acne-like condition is easily treated by a dermatologist and most often appears on the shoulders, back, arms, and face.


  • Severe Acne: Most teenage severe acne appears as cysts or deep-set nodules, both of which require a dermatologist’s help to treat. However, there are other, more dangerous conditions. Acne fulminans typically occurs in teenage boys and presents as nodular and ulcerative lesions. Acne conglobata is more common in late teen and young adult women and is characterized by deep, interconnected lesions. Both conditions require medical treatment.

Teenage Acne Treatments that Work

For young people, the best way to treat teen acne is through prevention. The teenage years are an excellent opportunity to develop good skincare habits, like regularly cleansing your face with products containing hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and benzoyl peroxide. However, breakouts still appear, and when they do, you’ll need acne treatments that are tailored for teenagers.

There are several over-the-counter products that work well with teen acne. Many contain a combination of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, a duo that kills bacteria and exfoliates the top layer of skin, reducing the appearance of lesions and killing the breakout. Sometimes, though, this isn’t enough to reduce breakouts. If over-the-counter products don’t work, consider making an appointment with our Chesterfield dermatology clinic.

Remember that your skin is unique, which means it can take years to understand how to effectively treat acne. A dermatologist can make recommendations and provide prescription-strength products designed to treat your acne safely and effectively.

When to See a Doctor for Teen Acne

If you have severe or chronic teen acne, a doctor is well equipped to diagnose and treat the condition. These forms of acne will require specialized care and a prescription, meaning you should see the dermatologist immediately.

If your breakouts are limited and mild, visiting a doctor might not be the first course of action. That said, it’s often a great idea for both short- and long-term strategizing. Don’t hesitate to see a dermatologist for teen acne.

Contact us to schedule an appointment.

*Results may vary per patient.