Understanding Teenage Acne

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Understanding Teenage Acne

Virtually every teenager will experience acne in some form or another. While teenage acne is extremely common, it doesn’t make it any easier for the child to deal with it...

Every Teen Has a Different Experience with Acne

Virtually every teenager will experience acne in some form or another. While teenage acne is extremely common, it doesn’t make it any easier for the child to deal with it. Some cases of acne are not as severe as others. Regardless, the cause of acne remains the same.

Acne can strike anyone at any age, but teenagers are more likely to experience it thanks in large part to puberty and hormonal changes. We at Tots N Teens Pediatrics are here to help parents and teens better understand acne with a child exam, so they are better equipped to treat it.

What Causes Teenage Acne

Understanding how your skin works are the best way to truly understand acne. The pores in your skin are filled with oil glands. Once you reach puberty, your body begins to produce sex hormones known as androgens. These hormones increase in both boys and girls. Androgens cause the oil glands in your skin to become overactive, producing far too much oil and enlarging. The oil produced is called sebum. Too much sebum leads to the pores or hair follicles becoming clogged with skin cells.

Androgens levels can also spike during times of hormonal changes such as pregnancy or starting or stopping contraceptives. Genetics also plays a strong factor. If your parents had acne, there is a high chance you will also develop it.

Certain medications can, in fact, lead to acne as well. Even oil-based cosmetics contain greasy elements that clog pores.

Other causes include:

  • Friction or rubbing on the skin
  • Picking at blemishes
  • Pressure on the skin
  • Changing hormone levels regarding the menstrual cycle
  • Stress

Getting in the habit of regularly washing your skin gently can help prevent acne.

Types of Acne

While acne is extremely common in teenagers, not every teen has the same experience. Acne can often appear in many ways, including:

Whiteheads: This occurs when the pore clogs and closes, becoming inflamed. It will begin to bulge and develop a white tip, known as a whitehead.

Blackheads: Blackheads occur when the pore clogs with bacteria, skin cells, or other debris, but they don’t close like whiteheads. They remain open, and the top becomes black because of oxidation.

Papules, Pustules, Nodules: These typically occur when the bacteria begin to grow in the blocked pore, leading to inflammation of the pimple. These are more serious, appearing red and swollen, and are often painful.

Cysts: Much like the pustules, the pimple becomes blocked and inflamed. However, cysts happen when the inflammation is much deeper and creates a large, painful lump beneath the skin.


Treating teenage acne depends on how severe the case is. Pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads are fairly mild cases, while papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts are much more severe. They may require prescription treatments or in-office treatments. Types of acne treatments include:

Over the Counter: Most over the counter treatments are all topical, meaning they are applied to the skin. They can be acetic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and sulfur. You can typically find these in gels, lotions, creams, and soaps. Using them regularly can help treat mild cases.

Prescription Treatments

Topical Prescriptions: These are prescribed to those with more serious cases. They include adapalene, antibiotics, azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and more.

Oral Prescriptions: Again, oral prescriptions are typically given for more serious cases. Doctors often prescribe oral antibiotics, in pill form, along with topical treatment. They help decrease inflammation. Because the cases are more severe, it often takes longer for them to work.

In-Office Treatments: Cysts often need more than prescription treatments to cure. The use of intralesional cortisone injections can help reduce inflammation and bacteria in the skin.

All teenagers can expect to deal with acne in one way or another in their life. While not all causes are severe, living with teenage acne can be difficult and hurt teens’ self-esteem. If you are a parent to a teen who is beginning to develop acne, taking them to their doctor can do wonders for their condition. Contact Tots N Teens Pediatrics to schedule an appointment.

Tots N Teens Pediatrics
✆ Phone (appointments):
Plano:  972-573-8700
Mesquite:  972-576-7933
Forney:  469-551-5372
✆ Phone (general inquiries):
Plano: 972-867-6880
Mesquite: 972-285-0838
Forney: 469-290-4592
4100 W. 15th Street, Suite 100, Plano, TX 75093
1650 Republic Parkway, Suite 120, Mesquite, TX 75150
757 E. US Hwy 80, Suite 240, Forney, TX 75126