Don't Over-wash Your Face
Another common myth: "Teens feel acne is caused by dirty skin," Berson says. Not so, she says. Rather, hormonal changes leading to excess oil production are to blame.
"They feel if they are vigilant and obsessive about cleaning, it will help," Berson says. In fact, she says, "Too much cleaning and abrasive cleaners will make the skin more irritated."
She recommends twice-a-day gentle cleaning of the face.
Berson also regularly warns teens with acne: "Don't pick." It doesn't make blemishes better, she warns, and makes it more likely they will become inflamed.
Give Your Acne Treatment Enough Time to Work
"Teenagers want to see results immediately," Berson says. But even the very best acne treatments take time to clear your skin.
"The reality is it can take a good four to eight weeks [to see results] when you start a regimen, depending on how severe the acne is to begin with," she says. And it can often take a few months to totally clear your skin.
Berson also warns teens about another surprising bump in the road: "You might get worse before you get better." She cautions them not to stop the medicine if it's getting worse. "Stick with it until you are back at your follow-up exam," she says. If teens have a skin reaction, she adds, they should check in with the dermatologist sooner.
Remember, Acne Treatment Pays Off in Many Ways
When acne treatment works -- and the majority of patients get relief if they adhere to the treatment plan -- teens say they feel more confident in many ways.
"I don't have to worry about having to cover up my blemishes," says Sarah, who as a college freshman gets an occasional breakout now and then. Her friends who didn't know her before, she says, "can't imagine that I had bad skin."
Alex's mother Chris says her son's skin is now very clear, calling the results "excellent."
How does Alex think it feels to be pimple-free? "Really good," he acknowledges. Then he laughs. "My friends ask, 'What happened to all your zits?'''