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Nicklaus Children's Hospital (SX/BC off)

Nicklaus Children's Hospital
3100 S.W. 62nd Avenue
Miami, Florida 33155
(305) 666-6511 or toll-free 1-800-432-6837
Physician referral: 1-888-MCH-DOCS
Email: info@mch.com


Acne

If you're almost a teen, chances are pretty good that you may have some acne. Acne is so common that it seems to be a normal part of growing from a kid to an adult. But knowing that doesn't make it easier when you look in the mirror and see a big pimple on your chin. The good news is that learning about acne and taking some simple steps can help you feel better about your face.

What Is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that shows up as bumps. There are different types of bumps: whiteheads, blackheads, red bumps (pimples), and bumps filled with pus. What causes these annoying bumps? Well, your skin is covered with tiny holes called hair follicles, or pores. Pores contain oil glands that make sebum (say: SEE-bum), an oil that moistens your hair and skin.

Most of the time, the glands make the right amount of sebum and the pores are fine. But sometimes a pore gets clogged up with too much sebum, dead skin cells, and germs called bacteria. This can cause acne.

Why Do So Many Kids Get Acne?

Kids get acne because of hormone changes that come with puberty. If your parent had acne as a teen, it's likely that you will too. Stress may make acne worse, because when you're stressed, your pores may make more sebum. Luckily, for most people, acne gets better by the time they're in their twenties.

What Can I Do About Acne?

If you have acne, here are some ways to keep pimples away:

Washing

  • Wash your face gently with your hands once or twice a day with warm water and a mild soap or cleanser.
  • Don't scrub your face. Scrubbing can actually make acne worse by irritating the skin.
  • If you wear makeup, be sure to wash it all off at the end of the day.
  • Wash your face after you've been exercising and sweating a lot.

Treating Acne

There are lotions and creams sold at drugstores that can help prevent acne and clear it up. Talk with your doctor about the choices.

When you use a product for acne, be sure to follow the directions exactly. Try just a little bit at first to be sure that you're not allergic to the cream or lotion. Don't give up if you don't see results the next day. Acne medicine can take weeks or months to work. Don't use more than you're supposed to because this can make your skin very red and very dry.

Kids who have serious acne can get help from their doctor. Doctors can prescribe medicine that’s stronger than what you can buy at the store.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Try not to touch your face.
  • Don't pick, squeeze, or pop pimples.
  • If you have long hair, keep it away from your face and wash it regularly to reduce oil.
  • Baseball caps and other hats can cause pimples along the hairline. Avoid them if you think they are making your acne worse.

What if I Get Pimples Anyway?

Many kids will get some pimples, even if they take steps to prevent acne. It's totally normal.

If you have acne, now you know some ways to improve your skin. And remember that you're not alone. Look around at your friends and you'll see that most kids and teens are in it together!

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: August 2020