Teen Acne Solutions
Doctors and patients explain how a variety of treatments let teens banish acne.
When Should You Seek Treatment for Acne? continued...
Alex Girard of Barrington, Ill., began having breakouts at age 13. "It didn't really bother me that much but my mom suggested I should go get it checked out," he says.
Chris, his mother, says she had bad acne as a teen and then again as an adult. (She went on oral isotretonin as a teen and again after her third child was born and her acne cleared.) "Knowing I had bad skin and my husband also did, we figured, they are doomed," Chris says about their children.
She pressed, and Alex decided it was a good idea. His mother's philosophy: "You don't have to have acne today."
Derick, who treated Alex, says parents are typically more aware that treatments have progressed -- and that parents who have suffered themselves as teens tend to seek help sooner.
What to Do When Parents and Teens Disagree on Acne Treatment
Sarah and her mother initially disagreed on the best treatment. Sarah wanted to give oral isotretinoin a try, but her mom resisted. "My mom was hesitant at first due to the warnings," she says. Women are required to use two forms of birth control while on the drug, usually taken for about six months, because the drug is associated with birth defects and miscarriage if the woman becomes pregnant while taking it.
But after Sarah's dermatologist, Diane Berson, MD, a New York City practitioner, explained everything, it became less scary, Sarah says. Her mother talked at length with her daughter's adolescent medicine doctor about it. "She was very reassuring," Sarah's mother says.
With close monitoring, Berson and Derick agree, it's an extremely effective drug.
It's important for teens and their parents to talk jointly with the doctor about all acne treatments. Ask questions about any concern. With so many acne treatments on the market, there's sure to be one that's effective and comfortable for both the teen and the parents.
Besides decisions on which treatment is best and when to see a dermatologist, there are several other obstacles to acne treatment, according to patients, parents, and dermatologists. Knowing about them -- and how to overcome them -- can speed results.
Have Patience During 'Trial-and-Error' Phase of Acne Treatment
With multiple remedies, some of them new, doctors often use "trial-and-error" to figure out what medicine works for which person. And before even seeing a dermatologist, many teens and their parents conduct their own trial-and-error experiments with drugstore acne remedies.
Alec, 22, of San Francisco, did just that for a while. When puberty hit, so did the acne, he recalls. Off to the drugstore he went. "I tried everything I could find," he says, buying over-the-counter acne treatments. But nothing gave him clear skin.
So he and his mother checked in at a teen clinic, where the doctor recommended a prescription cream that combined benzoyl peroxide with the antibiotic clindamycin. The combination cream worked well for Alec.