Updated August 27, 2014.
Finding treatments that work for teen acne can be frustrating. Almost every teen gets pimples, and nearly as many spend loads of time and money trying to get them to go away. It seems everyone has advice for you: scrub your face until it shines, stay away from chocolate and french fries, never touch your face because dirty hands cause breakouts. But you can have an ultra-healthy diet and squeaky-clean skin, and still have teen acne.
Does this mean you have to wait for acne to go away on its own? Luckily, no! There are teen acne treatment options available that will give you real results.
Over-the-Counter Acne Treatments
When you start noticing breakouts, the first place you may run is the skin care aisle at your local drug store. There are plenty of over-the-counter acne products to choose from. Maybe even too many. With all those choices, is it any wonder you’re overwhelmed?
First, look for an acne treatment cleanser. The brand name isn’t too important, as long as it contains either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Both of these are proven acne-fighting ingredients that help keep pores clear and stop breakouts before they start.
As long as the cleanser isn’t making your skin too dry, you can also add medicated pads or lotion to your skin care routine. Again, make sure these products contain either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
What about body acne? Breakouts on the body can be treated with a body wash containing (you guessed it!) benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Also, be sure to shower as soon as you can after you’ve exercised because sweat can irritate body acne. Friction from tight clothing, backpack straps, and athletic pads and equipment can also trigger a form of acne called acne mechanica.
Prescription Acne Treatments
If your acne is more persistent, or if you get very deep, inflamed nodules or painful cysts , you’ll need a prescription treatment. If OTC products aren’t working, don’t bounce from product to product looking for a solution. You’ll save yourself a lot of money and frustration by seeing a doctor.
Some topical prescription medications that are often prescribed to treat teen acne include:
Sometimes systemic medications are needed to effectively treat acne. They are often used along with topical treatments. Systemic medications for acne include Accutane (isotretinoin) and oral antibiotics. You, your parents, and your doctor will decide if these treatments are right for you.
Like all medications, these treatments do have side effects. Make sure you fully understand these side effects are before you start taking your medication.
If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor! No question is too silly, and your doctor will be glad to know you’re taking your treatment seriously.
Clear Skin Takes Time
It may take a few tries to find the right treatment that is most effective for your skin. This can be frustrating, but try not to let it discourage you. Just remember that each medication you try will ultimately bring you closer to clear skin.
Also, don’t get disappointed if you’re still noticing new breakouts forming even after you’ve begun treatment. Pimples won’t immediately stop appearing and your acne may get a little bit worse before the medicine starts to take full effect. What you’ll most likely find is that over time your breakouts will become smaller, less red, and will heal more quickly. It is a gradual process, not overnight clearing. Although it doesn’t seem fair, some acne treatments actually make breakouts worse before getting better.
And as tempting as it, don’t buy in to those advertisements that promise clear skin in just days. If you’re expecting results that quickly, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. It takes time for your skin to heal. Give it at least eight weeks before expecting significant results.
Above all else, be patient! No matter what product or medication you use, it takes time to work. You won’t get clear skin overnight, but with consistent treatment and a little time, you will get the results you’re looking for.