Exactly what causes acne? Acne develops when cells and natural oils begin to block up tiny hair follicles in the skin. Bacteria work their way into the plugged up follicles and start multiplying. When the body's immune cells move in to attack the bacteria, the results of the battle are the classic symptoms of acne -- swelling, redness, and pimples.
Acne medications help by interrupting this process in different ways. Some over-the-counter and prescription acne creams help by unplugging the follicles. Others - such as antibiotics - kill the bacteria that move into the follicles. The oral retinoid Accutane works differently by reducing the amount of oil secreted by glands in the skin.
There is no best acne treatment. Some people get results by using only one acne cream, although many need a combination of approaches to control their teen acne. Your pediatrician can help you decide which treatment may be best for you, and if the acne is worse, your child may need a referral to a dermatologist to care for his or her acne symptoms. Read more about acne.