February 28, 2022

By : Faith Ludwigs, APRN, CNP

Acne can be tough on teens and impact their confidence. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, research shows that acne can cause adolescents and teenagers to suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, poor self-image, decreased quality of life and a feeling of being all alone.  Some teens may stop doing things they love or participating in class because they are so self-conscious.

Acne is caused by oil glands in the skin that are stimulated when hormones become active during puberty. Overactive oil glands and a buildup of oil, dead skin cells and bacteria lead to inflammation – swelling and redness – in the pores.

Early treatment of acne can be very successful in clearing up the skin, reducing emotional pain and preventing scars. Without treatment, acne can worsen.

There are many effective treatments for acne. With a sea of over-the-counter products out there, it can be expensive, confusing and frustrating to find the right product for the acne type. A dermatology provider can help you sort through the options to find what will work best.

Typically, the first line of treatment includes gentle cleansers, a moisturizer that does not clog pores and prescription-strength topically applied creams or solutions. Your dermatology provider will examine the skin, review the options and find the best fit for your child.

Open communication between patients, parents and providers can play a big role in the success of treatment. Office visits allow an opportunity to develop a plan together that is individualized and realistic for a young person’s lifestyle. Dermatology providers will also review potential side effects and advise on how to prevent the side effects or alleviate symptoms.

Sometimes over-the-counter or topical medications are not effective. In these cases, other options can be reviewed such as oral medications.

Additionally, we know that often hormones play a role in acne. That’s why contraceptive pills which contain female hormones is sometimes a better choice when considering what acne treatment to start females on.  

Isotretinoin, formerly known as Accutane, is an oral medication that improves acne in everyone. It treats the cause of acne whereas all other options just manage the symptoms of acne. However, insurance providers may require patients and providers to try other topical and oral medications first. Your dermatology provider can help you navigate through this.  

Finally, acne can leave scars behind. Sometimes acne scarring improves on its own after several months.  But if scars don’t resolve on their own say after nine months, there are treatments to help improve and minimize scarring significantly.

We all want to feel good about how we look. That’s why treating acne can make a big difference in the well-being of our adolescents and teenagers.

Faith Ludwigs, APRN, DNP, works in Mankato Clinic Dermatology at Madison East Center in Mankato and River’s Edge Campus in St. Peter.