Teen Acne: How to Handle and Prevent Breakouts



Dealing with acne can be a challenging and distressing part of adolescence and teenage years. However, it’s essential to remember that acne is a common skin condition among young individuals, and there are effective ways to manage it. This comprehensive guide will explore the causes of teen acne, different types of acne, and practical tips for prevention and treatment. Whether you’re a teen or a parent seeking advice, read on to discover how to handle teen acne and promote healthy skin habits.

Understanding the Causes of Teen Acne:

Contrary to popular belief, common foods like chocolate, fried foods, or sugar are not significant contributors to acne breakouts in teens. Instead, hormonal changes play a crucial role in triggering acne. As adolescents experience hormonal fluctuations, the production of sebum (an oily secretion that protects and lubricates the skin) increases. When combined with dead skin cells and debris, excess sebum can clog skin follicles, leading to acne.

Besides hormones, other factors that can exacerbate acne include stress, hormone imbalances, menstrual periods (for girls), high-iodine foods and drinks, tight clothing or equipment resting on the skin, and pore-blocking makeup or greasy hair products. Understanding these triggers is vital in effectively managing and preventing acne breakouts.

Types of Acne:

Acne comes in various forms, and recognizing them can help in selecting the appropriate treatment. The common types of acne include:

  • Papules: Early pimples characterized by small, red, inflamed bumps that feel hard and rough.
  • Whiteheads: Closed pores with trapped oil and dirt under the skin’s surface, appearing as small, white or flesh-colored bumps.
  • Blackheads: Open pores with clogged debris, resembling tiny black spots on the skin.
  • Pustules: Infected pimples containing yellowish fluid and an enlarged bump with a yellow or white center.
  • Nodules: Larger, harder, and painful red bumps with a higher risk of scarring due to inflammation.

Prevention and Daily Tips for Teen Acne Treatment:

Helping your teen develop a consistent and patient approach to acne treatment is crucial. Acne does not disappear overnight, and the best results come from persistent efforts. Encourage them to follow these daily tips:

  • Regular Cleansing: Advise your teen to wash their face gently twice a day, in the morning and before bedtime, using a mild cleanser. Avoid scrubbing vigorously with a washcloth, as it can irritate the skin.
  • Non-comedogenic Products: Suggest using water-based, fragrance-free lotions and products that won’t clog skin follicles.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: Over-the-counter lotions containing benzoyl peroxide can be effective in treating mild to moderate acne. Start with a lower concentration (2.25-5 percent) once daily and increase to twice daily if the skin tolerates it well. If no improvement occurs after four to six weeks, try a higher concentration.
  • Patience and Consistency: Remind your teen that acne treatment takes time, and they need to be consistent with their routine even when their skin appears to improve.

Other Treatment Options:

For severe or persistent acne, it’s essential to consult a pediatrician or dermatologist for alternative treatments. Prescription medications like retinoids or antibiotics may be recommended. In severe cases of cystic acne, isotretinoin might be prescribed, but it comes with potential side effects and risks that should be discussed with the healthcare provider.


Teen acne can be challenging, but it can be managed effectively with the right knowledge and approach. Understanding the root causes of acne, recognizing the different types, and adopting daily skincare practices can significantly prevent and treat breakouts. Encourage your teen to be patient and consistent with their skincare routine, and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice if needed. With proper care and attention, teens can navigate through this phase with healthier, clearer skin.