Teen acne is an exceedingly common experience. Around 85 percent of all people will experience acne during their teenage years, making this a nearly universal experience for those aged 13 to 18. But though most young people will experience breakouts, the experience is not an easy one. Teen acne can be hard to hide and frustrating to treat, especially when it seems like every product promises the same results but never delivers.


If you’re struggling to control teen acne, consider visiting a dermatologist. While most breakouts will clear up with time, it’s important to understand the treatment options that work best for your skin and lifestyle. A dermatologist can help you develop a personalized treatment plan and daily regimen, which can help extend healthy skin habits well into adulthood.


What Causes Teenage Acne?

Teenagers are predisposed to acne development because of the hormonal changes associated with puberty. The most common type of acne, acne vulgaris, occurs when excess oil clogs the pores of the skin. This oil, also known as sebum, is generated by the sebaceous glands. A normal amount of sebum keeps the skin soft, pliant, and healthy, but in excess, it can lead to an oily complexion and acne.

Certain hormone changes can trigger the overproduction of sebum. Puberty is the defining experience of our teenage years, but it is also a time of severe hormonal changes. This is, in part, why teen acne is extremely common.


Additional Teen Acne Causes

While hormonal changes are the driving force behind most teenage acne cases, other factors are likely at play. Anything from a football uniform to a strong skin care product can cause an acne flare-up.

  • Acne Mechanica: Second to acne vulgaris, acne mechanica is the leading cause of teenage acne. It appears primarily on the back and arms, but it is also frequently seen on the face and chest. This type of acne is caused by friction, which can be generated when clothing fits too tightly. Acne mechanica can be caused by everything from a lacrosse helmet to a bathing suit, a winter cap to a too-tight fabric bracelet. That said, many of the teenage acne mechanica patients we see are middle and high school athletes.
  • Keratosis Pilaris: Sometimes, what appears to be acne is not a pimple at all. Keratosis pilaris is an acne-like condition that appears on the shoulders, back, face, and arms. It looks like acne lesions, but these rough, patchy bumps are dead skin cells plugging hair follicles. They can be red or brown in color, and they are easily treated with the help of a dermatologist.
  • Severe Acne: For teenagers, severe acne typically consists of deep-set nodules and cysts. Both of these types of acne will require a dermatologist’s help to treat. If left untreated, these severe forms of acne can develop into dangerous conditions. For example, acne conglobata is a rare but serious condition that occurs in late teen and young adult women. Acne fulminans is another rare condition that occurs in teenage boys. If you suspect you have any of these conditions, visit a doctor as soon as possible.


Finding Teen Acne Treatment for You

Most teenage acne will respond well to over-the-counter products, especially those with benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These ingredients work together to clear the skin and kill bacteria, both treating pimples and preventing future breakouts. If over-the-counter products don’t work, though, you’ll need to visit a doctor. Other, more powerful treatments are available, but they require a doctor’s prescription. This can include both oral and topical antibiotics, products with higher concentrations of salicylic acid, and hormonal treatments.

There are many popular acne treatments, but discovering the cause of your acne is the best way to find an option that works for your skin. Figuring out the acne’s cause is also a great way to implement preventative strategies, like using specific cleansers or ingredients. Your skin is unique, which means the process may take a lot of trial and error. Still, putting in the time to understand your skin now is an excellent way to develop healthy skin care habits – habits that can be very useful if you experience adult acne later in life.


When to See a Doctor for Teen Acne

 Whether you’re struggling to control teen acne or aren’t sure what type of breakouts you have, visiting a doctor is always a good decision. A dermatologist can be an invaluable asset when determining your acne’s cause and deciding on a teen acne treatment. If you have a more severe condition, they can also provide guidance and access to stronger acne treatment options. In every case, though, you will leave the doctor with a better understanding of your skin and acne – knowledge you can use well into adulthood. Contact us to schedule your consultation today.