Acne is caused when pores in the skin become plugged and inflamed. It begins to occur in puberty when certain hormones in the body are increased, causing more oil gland activity in the face, back, and upper chest.

The cells that line the oil glands shed and clog the pores causing whiteheads and blackheads. When the whiteheads rupture, they cause inflammation and pimples. Things that make acne worse are “popping” pimples, too much scrubbing, things that rub the skin (hats, headbands, hair), menstruation, heavy cosmetics, and in some people, stress and tension. Acne is not caused by eating certain foods or by dirt.

You may inherit a tendency toward being susceptible to developing acne if other members of your family have acne. There is no cure for acne, and it can last for years although it does tend to improve over time. In order to keep acne controlled you need to have a consistent, patient, and persistent treatment plan. It takes at least 4–6 weeks to see any improvement.

Suggested Treatment for Acne

Wash only 2–3 times per day with a mild soap using hot water to wash and cool water for the final rinse. Avoid harsh soaps or abrasives.

Use 5% benzoyl peroxide gel or lotions. Begin with one application per day and go to twice a day after a week if your skin isn’t too red or peeling. You should apply it over the entire area where pimples may occur, not just were the current pimples are.

Apply it 30 minutes after washing to be sure the skin is completely dry, and do not apply it to the delicate skin around the eyes, mouth, and corners of the nose.

After 4-6 weeks, if there is no improvement, you can go to 10% benzoyl peroxide, again beginning once a day and increasing to twice a day as your skin tolerates it. Notify your pediatrician or pediatric dermatologist if these measures do not control the acne. There are other medications to try under the careful supervision of your physician.

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