Share this post on your profile with a comment of your own:

Successfully Shared!

View on my Profile
How to Treat Teen Acne

Medically reviewed by Bari Cunningham, MD, Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen on January 13, 2023

Teenage acne is no laughing matter. It is “estimated that 85 percent of teens get acne, usually starting at age 11 for girls and a couple years later for boys.” If it’s not treated properly, it can lead to lasting scarring and disfigurement. So how do we treat teen acne?


What To Avoid


Here are some of the most detrimental things you can do when you have acne:


  • Don’t pick your acne or pop your pimples: We know. We really do. It’s incredibly tempting to pick your skin and pop your pimples. The problem is that when you do this, you could end up with permanent pock marks or scars. Also, popping pimples can cause more pimples by causing bacteria to get pushed deeper into your skin.
  • Don’t wash your face more than twice a day: Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by dirty or greasy skin. Washing your face too often can actually make acne worse.
  • Don’t eat foods that could trigger your acne. Avoiding triggers like refined grains and sugars, excessive dairy products, and milk chocolate is also a good idea if you are suffering from acne.


What To Do


Here are things that can really help with teen acne:


  • Get help if you need it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that acne is just something many teens go through and that you will get through it somehow, just like everyone else does. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) reports that teen acne can result in low self-esteem and self-confidence, poor body image, social withdrawal, and even depression, anger, and anxiety. Consult with your dermatologist before your acne gets out of hand. A dermatologist is highly trained and will be able to guide you and prescribe medications or antibiotics if necessary. Early treatment can prevent a small problem from becoming a huge problem.
  • Wash your face twice a day with warm water, using a mild cleanser. The AAD recommends that you wash your face by using your fingertips and not by scrubbing it. Afterwards, don’t dry it vigorously; pat it dry gently using a clean towel.
  • Wear sunscreen every day. Yes, every day. This one is a must. Sunscreen protects your skin from sun damage, skin cancer like melanoma, and leathery, wrinkled skin. It may even help prevent acne that may be caused by sunburns.
  • Use non-comedogenic products. When you’re choosing products, make sure that they are all non-comedogenic, which simply means that they won’t clog your pores.
  • Exfoliate once a week. Exfoliating skin helps to remove dead skin cells and to remove bacteria from the pores so that sebum can’t build up. It’s definitely a good idea to exfoliate once a week, but be careful to use gentle products and not harsh face scrubs. La Roche Posay, a luxury skincare brand, suggests using chemical exfoliants containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids, as these are gentler on the skin.


Next Video >>

Acne - Treatment

Acne - Treatment

Common Treatments


There are several types of treatments available. Work with your dermatologist to determine which is the best for your situation.


  • Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The most common acne treatments are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, which are available in your local drugstore. Salicylic acid removes dead skin cells that can lead to non-inflammatory acne (including whiteheads and blackheads), while benzoyl peroxide is used for more severe breakouts, including inflammatory acne lesions. It dries up dead skin cells and can also help fight excess sebum and kill acne-causing bacteria. 
  • Retinoids. These vitamin A derivatives unplug clogged oil ducts to prevent cysts and nodules). They might be able to help you if your acne doesn’t clear up after using benzoyl peroxide. But you will need a prescription for these. If you are using retinoids, avoid direct sunlight, cover up, wear a brimmed hat, and always wear sunscreen (if you weren’t already doing this). This is because vitamin A can increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays and make you more susceptible to burns. Isotretinoin (Roaccutane) is a very strong retinoid that is often prescribed if your acne doesn’t respond to any other treatment. It can cause various side effects and can only be prescribed by a doctor. Even though it is rare, there have been cases of teens taking Roaccutane that started experiencing suicidal ideation (thoughts of committing suicide). Although there is not yet enough scientific evidence to prove that Roaccutane causes depressive symptoms or suicidal thoughts, it’s also not something that we can ignore. That’s why your healthcare team should monitor you carefully during your treatment to make sure that it’s not affecting your mental health.


If you are suffering from acne, please don’t try to be a hero and go it alone. There is so much support and help out there–all you have to do is reach out and take it.


Written by Gila Isaacson

Related Articles

Acne & Rosacea

Rosacea: Causes and Types

Rosacea - though harmless - is one of the most common skin conditions affecting Americans. What are the causes and types?

Acne & Rosacea

Does Masturbation Cause Acne?

Masturbation is blamed for everything from poor vision to poor socialization. But the link between pimples and self-pleasure is loosely based on science.

Send this to a friend