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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
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Acne for Teenagers - Brief Version

What is acne?

Acne occurs when the oil glands of your skin become plugged. More than 90% of teenagers have some acne. With acne you will have blackheads, whiteheads (pimples), or red bumps are on your face, neck, and shoulders.

How can I take care of myself?

  • Basic treatment for all acne.
    • Wash your skin twice a day and after exercise. Use a mild soap.
    • Shampoo your hair daily.
    • Avoid picking. Picking keeps acne from healing.
  • Treatment for pimples (infected oil glands) or blackheads (the plugs found in blocked-off oil glands).
    • Benzoyl peroxide 5% lotion or gel: This lotion helps to open pimples and unplug blackheads. It also kills bacteria. Apply the lotion once a day at bedtime. Redheads and blonds should apply it every other day for the first 2 weeks.
    • Pimple opening the safe way: Never open a pimple before it has come to a head (has a yellow center). Wash your face and hands first. Use a needle that has been sterilized with rubbing alcohol. 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 water. Don't "pop" pimples by squeezing.
  • 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.

Call your doctor 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.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems