Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Acne (for Teenagers)
- Blackheads, whiteheads (pimples), or red bumps are on
your face, neck, and shoulders.
- The larger red lumps are quite painful.
- Acne occurs during the adolescent and young adult years.
Acne is due to an overactivity and plugging of the oil
glands. More than 90 percent of teenagers have some acne.
The main cause of acne is increased levels of hormones
Acne is not caused by diet. A person who has acne does not
have to avoid eating fried foods, chocolate, or any other
Acne is not caused by sexual activity. It is not caused by
dirt nor by not washing your face often enough. The tops of
blackheads are black because of the chemical reaction of the
oil plug with the air.
Acne usually lasts until age 20 or even 25. It is rare for
acne to leave any scars, and people worry needlessly about
There is no magic medicine at this time that will cure acne.
However, good skin care can keep acne under control and at a
- Basic treatment for all acne
Wash your skin twice a day and after exercise. The
most important time to wash is bedtime. Use a mild
soap such as Dove soap.
Shampoo your hair daily. Long hair can make acne
worse by rubbing against your skin.
- Avoid picking
Picking stops acne from healing.
- Treatment for pimples
Pimples are infected oil glands. They should be treated
with the following:
- Benzoyl peroxide 5% lotion or gel
This lotion helps to open pimples and unplug
blackheads. It also kills bacteria. It is available
without a prescription. Ask your pharmacist to
recommend a brand.
Apply the lotion once a day at bedtime. Redheads and
blonds should apply it every other day for the first
An amount of lotion the size of a pea should be
enough to cover most of your face. If your skin
becomes red or peels, you are using too much of the
medicine or applying it too often. Try using less of
it or applying it less often. You may need to use
this lotion for several years.
- Pimple opening
In general, it is better not to "pop" pimples, but
most teenagers do it anyway. Therefore, do it
safely. Never open a pimple before it has come to a
head. Wash your face and hands first. Use a sterile
needle (sterilized by alcohol or a flame). Nick the
surface of the yellow pimple with the tip of the
needle. The pus should run out without squeezing.
Wipe away the pus and wash the area with soap and
Scarring will not result from opening small pimples,
but it can result from squeezing boils or other
large, red, tender lumps.
- Treatment for blackheads (comedones)
Blackheads are the plugs found in blocked-off oil
glands. They should be treated with the following:
- Benzoyl peroxide 5% lotion or gel
This lotion is also excellent for removing thickened
skin that blocks the openings to oil glands. Use the
lotion as described above for pimples.
- Blackhead extractor
Blackheads that are a cosmetic problem can sometimes
be removed with a blackhead extractor. This
instrument costs about a dollar and is available at
any drugstore. By placing the hole in the end of the
small metal spoon directly over the blackhead, your
can apply uniform pressure that does not hurt the
normal skin. This method is much more efficient than
anything you can do with your fingers. Soak your
face with a warm washcloth before you try to remove
blackheads. If the blackhead does not come out the
first time, leave it alone.
- Treatment for red bumps
Large red bumps mean the infection has spread beyond the
oil gland. If you have several red bumps, you probably
also need an antibiotic. Antibiotics come as solutions
for the skin or as pills. Your antibiotic is
_________________. Use it ________ times a day.
- Common mistakes in treating acne
- Avoid scrubbing your skin.
Hard scrubbing of the skin is harmful because it
irritates the openings of the oil glands and can
cause them to be more tightly closed.
- Avoid putting any oily or greasy substances on your
Oily and greasy substances make acne worse by
blocking oil glands. If you must use cover-up
cosmetics, use water-based cosmetics and wash them
off at bedtime.
- Avoid hair tonics or hair creams (especially greasy
When you sweat, these substances will spread to your
face and aggravate the acne.
- Don't stop your acne medicine too soon. It takes 8
weeks to see a good response.
Call Your Physician During Office Hours If:
- The acne has not improved after you have treated it with
benzoyl peroxide for 2 months.
- It looks infected (large, red, tender bumps).
- You have other concerns or questions.