Being a teenager can often feel like the most self-conscious period of your life. If it's not your weight, it's your face or your hair. Dealing with hormonal acne can feel like another one of the stressful things to figure out.
Nevertheless, it helps to know that nearly 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience some type of acne. What's great is that with the best acne treatment for teens, a consistent skin routine, and patience, you can treat teen acne.
We reviewed the best acne treatments for teens and outlined useful tips to manage and treat teen acne.
What Is Teenage Acne?
Acne is a result of the hair follicles getting clogged with oil and dead skin.
Hence teen acne is usually a result of hormonal changes and is most common on the face, forehead, chest, upper, and shoulder. There are many kinds of acne, including:
- Blackheads: Blackheads result when a pore gets clogged but remains open. This can cause oxidation, resulting in a dark-colored spot that's characteristic of blackheads.
- Whiteheads: Whiteheads result from clogged pores that close and bulge out from the skin, thus creating the “whitehead” on the bulge.
- Pimples: Pimples are formed when the pore wall opens, giving room for bacteria and dead skin to enter. Thus resulting in a small, red bump. If puss is present in the pimple, this is usually from the body reacting to the bacteria in the pimple.
- Cysts: Cysts—or nodules—are formed by pores opening deep in the skin. This results in a painful lump larger than a pimple.
Below are our top picks of the best acne treatments for teens that are gentle on the skin.
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Paula's choice is easily the best acne treatment for teens concerning chemical exfoliation. The product is useful for both treating and preventing acne hence can be used regularly.
The formula contains salicylic acid, which penetrates deep into the pores and breaks up any acne-causing clogs. The product is gentle on the skin and absorbs quickly.
One of the best acne treatments for teens with oily skin, even though it works all skin types. The major downside is that it doesn't do well with sun exposure.
When dealing with acne, it's best to consider a mild moisturizer that will hydrate your face. This is especially a great choice if your acne treatments include prescription creams which can often be quite stripping.
The Cetaphil Face Moisturizer is a great choice to add to your acne skin routine as it's a lightweight formula that intensely hydrates your face. In addition, the formula is fragrance-free and doesn't lead to clogged pores or irritate your skin.
The Neutrogena Acne Wash is a great choice as it's oil-free and has 2% salicylic acid. It's the best acne treatment for teens as it's designed to powerfully fight clogged pored, remove excess sebum, leaving skin feeling fresh and clear.
It contains naturally derived grapefruit for a boost of skin-brightening vitamin C, and the citrus fruit gives it a refreshing and energizing scent. In addition, it’s sulfate-free and paraben-free.
These CORSX pimple patches can be considered one of the best spot treatments for teenage acne. They should, however, be used as treatment and not a preventative step and only on active acne.
The spot treatment pimple patchwork is a quick and easy treatment. They prevent you from popping and picking at your pimples. In addition, the hydrocolloid patch protects the concerned area effectively and creates a moist environment, which makes the healing process faster.
This makes them one of the best acne treatments for teens. Each sheet comes with three different sizes of patches, so you can cover multiple pimples at once.
They are best suited for teens with sensitive skin and shouldn’t dry out the treated areas.
Finding a product that calms your inflamed skin and prevents further breakouts can be challenging when dealing with body acne. It is the best acne treatment for teens for the body. Murad's Acne Body Wash is a gentle exfoliator that's best suited for oily and combination skin.
The formula is designed to prevent breakouts on your back, chest, and shoulders. Additionally, it's formulated with 1% Salicylic acid, which aids in the clearing, balancing, treating, and preventing breakouts.
Lastly, it contains biodegradable beads, green tea, and licorice root extracts that calm irritated skin.
Factors To Consider When Searching For Best Acne Treatment For Teens
a) Active Ingredients
The best acne treatments for teens feature a consistent skincare routine formulated with effective active ingredients that aid in treating acne-causing bacteria and prevent breakouts.
These are the three ingredients that are most effective at treating acne:
- Benzoyl peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide, also referred to as BP or BPO, is a highly effective acne-fighting ingredient. Most of the best acne treatments for teens feature this key player. Benzoyl Peroxide delivers oxygen into your pores, killing the acne-causing bacteria since they can’t live in an oxygen-rich environment. Benzoyl Peroxide is also an anti-inflammatory, meaning it reduces the redness and inflammation (and sometimes pain) that comes with your pimples.
- Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid, also known as a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), is another very effective active ingredient for treating teenage acne. It works as an exfoliant as it encourages dead skin cells to loosen and shed, which helps clean out all the acne-causing debris clogging your pores. With all the dead skin cells gone, your pores are likely to look smaller, and your skin can appear more radiant.
- Retinoids: If suffering from inflammatory acne, the best acne treatments with retinoids are also effective. Retinoids are types of Vitamin A derivatives that unplug clogged oil ducts to prevent cysts and nodules. Retinoids are a great choice if benzoyl peroxide doesn’t do the trick. However, you’ll need to consult a dermatologist for retinoids for acne, as these can only be given with a prescription. Topical retinoids are also another choice. They come as gels and creams that you apply up to twice a day. You’ll also need to be extremely cautious with sun exposure, as vitamin A can increase your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.
2. Change Your Diet
You've probably heard the saying that your skin is a reflection of what you eat. As a teen, between school, your social life, extracurricular activities, and work probably, it might be challenging to eat right all the time. You may have also heard that food doesn't cause acne, but the truth is that certain food can trigger acne breakouts. The greatest culprits being dairy, high-glycemic foods, and processed items.
Drinking water can play a part in maintaining acne-free skin. A 2015 study showed that increasing daily water intake could help keep the skin hydrated to avoid accumulating dead skin cells.
How To Manage Teenage Acne
1. Choose A Mild Cleanser and Use Warm Water
When dealing with teenage acne, it can feel like nothing you do works. However, with patience and consistency, you can manage your acne.
First things first, when searching for the best acne treatment for teens, it's key to choose a mild cleanser, for instance, products like Cetaphil or Cerave. What you're looking to avoid is the skin over-drying. This is particularly important if using prescription creams from your dermatologist/doctor. Also, avoid cleaning your face with a washcloth and instead use your fingertips to wash your face gently.
Also, don't overdo it. It's sufficient to wash your face twice a day. It's worth noting that teen acne is not caused by a dirty face. Actually, washing your face too much can make your breakouts worse.
Lastly, the temperature of the water is also important. It's advisable to wash and rinse your face using lukewarm water. Hot or cold water can worsen acne.
2. Don't Rely On Over Counter Medicine Only When Treating Teen Acne
It takes four to eight weeks for existing pimples to heal with medication. For mild acne, topical creams, gels, and lotions can aid in unblocking clogged pores and reduce bacteria, thus improving the skin's appearance. However, moderate or severe acne will require an oral acne medication such as antibiotics, isotretinoin, or birth control pills for women.
It's essential to seek advice from medical professionals ( e.g., a dermatologist) and work with them to find the right acne medication to treat your degree of acne. It's also key to use your acne medication only as directed by your doctor. Don't use over-the-counter acne treatments in addition to your prescriptions without checking with your doctor. Something worth noting is that with acne treatments, more is not always better. It is important to keep your skin in a healthy balance.
Antibiotics can sometimes aid in occasional doses to help get rid of inflammatory acne caused by the P. acnes bacterium. They come as oral antibiotics or in topical creams or gels that you apply for a certain number of days. It's crucial not to overuse oral antibiotics, or else your body can build up a resistance to them. Seek advice from your dermatologist on whether your current breakout warrants antibiotic treatment.
3. Moisturize Daily With Oil-Free Non-comedogenic Products
When you've got acne-prone skin, it's essential to consider mild products. This is because your skin is already inflamed; hence you don't want to run the risk of using products with too many chemicals that can cause more breakouts and further irritate your skin.
A mild daily moisturizer lotion or cream can be beneficial when you've got acne-prone skin. Additionally, it's a great choice if using drying prescription creams from your doctor.
Look for products labeled oil-free and non-comedogenic, which means it won't create the blackheads and whiteheads that clog pores. Apply moisturizer right after applying acne face medication.
4. Avoid Sleeping With Makeup
The ultimate skincare rule applies: Never sleep with your makeup. It's even more important when treating acne.
Using a gentle cleanser, remove your makeup every night. Sleeping with makeup can lead to your pores clogging, and that will cause breakouts.
Additionally, makeup moderation is essential. Don't apply more than you need during the day/night, and it should only be put on after your medication.
The type of makeup you opt for matters. Look for brands that are acne-friendly. The terms to keep an eye out for are 'noncomedogenic' and 'oil-free. Some makeup options also include flesh-tinted lotions to hide pimples and powder over an oil-free foundation.
5. Don't Pick At Your Pimples
Regardless of how tempting it might be, don't pop those pimples. This raises the chances of scarring, and it also takes longer to heal. Additionally, try not to touch your face even though you might feel like you want to hide your pimples. This is another way to spread oils that can clog your pores.
- How To Prevent Acne Scars
Unfortunately, with teenage acne, acne scars tend to be part of the package. However, to best avoid them is by treating teenage acne as soon as it starts. Just remember not to pick and pop those pimples, no matter how much you want to. You’ll only spread the infection, worsen inflammation, and encourage acne scars because the healing time is extended. Additionally, always allow blemishes of any kind to heal on their own so you can prevent even more acne scars.
6. Always Apply SunScreen When Going Out
Wherever you go, always remember to have your broad-spectrum SPF with you. Whether you're hanging at the beach or running errands, ensure your skin is protected from sun exposure.
It's worth noting that too much exposure can damage your skin and increase inflammation, making you susceptible to acne breakouts. In addition, some drugs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun's UV rays if taking acne medication. Thus, leading to a blistering sunburn, so ensure always to protect your skin. It's advisable to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and look for physical sunscreens that are less likely to irritate your skin.
Can You Prevent Acne?
Unfortunately, there's no proven way to prevent acne. But these tips might help reduce the severity of your breakouts.
- Washing your skin is the most important thing you can do. It aids in removing excess surface oils and dead skin cells that clog pores. However, it should be done moderately as excessive washing can damage the skin making it too dry or irritating acne that’s already there.
- If using skin products, such as lotions or makeup, look for non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic, meaning that they don't clog pores.
- If using hair spray or styling gel, try keeping them from your face as much as possible. Many hair products contain oils that can worsen your acne. Instead, try looking for water-based products.
- If you get acne on your back or chest, avoid wearing tight clothing, which can rub and irritate your skin.
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