TLYNTK (The least you need to know)
• For simple acne (whiteheads, blackheads, papules or bumps)
o Wash your face twice a day with soap and water. No need to scrub hard, just enough to remove dirt and oil
o Make sure you shampoo your hair at least 2-3 times each week, and limit the amount of grease or cream you put in your hair
o Put benzoyl peroxide gel or cream once or twice a day on your face
• For more complicated acne (large, tender, red bumps called cysts or nodules):
o All the above…PLUS…
o May need stronger concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, or other creams or gels containing tretinoin or adapalene
o May also need antibiotics which can be in the form of a pad, a liquid, or a pill
o If there are many large red bumps on the face, chest, or back, a strong medicine called Accutane can be used
• With good hygiene and the right medications, acne can be managed and should clear up. But, you must be patient. It will take weeks or months, before you start to see improvements
• Whatever you do, DON’T squeeze or pop your pimples. This can lead to more serious infections and scarring
At some point, almost all teens will look in the mirror and see bumps on their face, chest or back. Sometimes, it may only be a few small ones on their forehead. In other situations, they could be large and red and tender, and can be found on the face, chest or back. The good news is, they usually go away. The bad news is…not soon enough! The trick is not to make the situation worse by scrubbing, squeezing or popping your pimples. That can lead to an infection and/or scarring. So, take a deep breathe, relax and let us help you get your skin right!
Why do teens get acne?
There are a lot of myths out there, but believe it or not, you don’t get acne because of eating too much chocolate, or not have sex. Acne is caused by…hormones, clogged pores and bacteria. Click here for a video that explains how those pesky pimples pop up.
So, what can I do about it?
Well for lots of teens, even if they did nothing at all, acne will eventually clear up as they get older. But, for right now, there are lots of things you can do. Before we start, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE…don’t spend a lot of money on products advertised on television infomercials…
Stick with what’s tried and true. How acne gets treated depends on what kind of acne you have. We’ll get into that in a minute, but the basics for all management of acne is to keep your skin clean. Washing with soap and water helps remove dirt and oil which can clog the pores in your skin. You don’t need fancy or expensive soaps, just use whatever is handy, but use it, twice a day. You may think that scrubbing hard is necessary but that can irritate the skin.
If your acne is relatively mild (a few small bumps), then, in addition to soap and water, you can pick up some benzoyl peroxide cream (“Oxy-5” or similar brand) off the shelf in your local pharmacy. Benzoyl peroxide helps open your pores and reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin. Be careful not to use too much too often or your skin will get red and dry. Just put a dot on your forehead, cheeks and chin, and then rub it in and “connect the dots”. Skip to 2:12 and watch here for how to apply. Do it at night before bed, and then wash it off the next morning. You may want to start slow, and do it Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights to start.
On the other hand, if you have lots of bumps, and some of them are big, red and tender, you may have to step up the treatment. As we mentioned before, there are lots of bacteria on the skin. When your body tries to get rid of them, there is a “fall out” or inflammation, which causes the redness and swelling. So you have to do a couple of things…keep your pores open and reduce the amount of bacteria on your skin. Stronger concentrations of benzoyl peroxide may help, but you may also need other types of medicine to open your pores like: tretinoin or azelaic acid, or adapalene, these medications are available by prescription from your health provider.
Additionally, you may need to take antibiotics to reduce the amount of bacteria on your face. The antibiotics may be in a special pad that you can use to remove extra bacteria from your face after you wash it with soap and water; or it could be in the form of a gel or lotion that you rub on once or twice a day. The antibiotic gels or lotions may sometimes be combined in the same bottle as benzoyl peroxide or adapalene to make your life a little easier.
If there lots of big red bumps, you may even have to take antibiotic pills.
Occasionally, some teens have many of these, big red bumps on their chest and back, in addition to their face. Now it’s time to call out the heavy hitters. There is a drug called Accutane that is reserved for the most severe types of acne. It is a pill that is, taken for 4-5 months and will do a wonderful job of “melting” the bumps away. But, there is the potential for side-effects, meaning you could have a reaction to it.
If you need Accutane, you will have to be carefully watched by your health provider and come in for checkups and blood tests.
So, the deal is, if you have acne, you can be helped. Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t stay locked up in your room with a bag over your head. You are only young once, so enjoy yourself. Don’t sit on the sidelines feeling sorry for yourself. Talk to your health provider and get started on the road to looking spectacular! If you don’t have a health provider that you can talk to about this stuff, reach out to your BeWell Health Coach and they can help you find someone who can help!