Teenagers are the group most people think of when they discuss acne. However, for many kids this skin condition begins earlier. In fact, most 12 year olds have a problem with pimples. Acne treatment for preteens is a little different than it is for other age groups. For example, no doctor is likely to prescribe birth control pills as a solution to preteens. Heavy duty drugs like isotretinoin are also off the table. So, a combination of prevention and mild medication is often the best option for preteens and teenages. Leaving acne untreated may increase the likelihood of psychological effects such as self esteem problems or social anxiety. If the acne becomes severe, it can cause physical problems such as permanent scarring.
Prevention of Preteen Acne
Since the development of acne has both genetic and hormonal components, there is no sure-fire way to prevent it. However, there are steps preteens can take to limit outbreaks. These preteen acne treatment solutions include:
- Washing their face regularly with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water.
- Washing twice a day when they brush their teeth is a reasonable schedule.
- Most dermatologists, and myself, would can recommend face and body soaps for sensitive skin that will decrease the chances of irritation or over-drying.
- Rinsing off immediately after exercise or sports activities is also important for removing sweat and oils that can provide a breeding ground for bacteria.
With younger and younger children becoming skin health and beauty conscious, the use of personal care products such as hair gel and cosmetics can be a contributing factor in acne, especially on teenagers. Even some lotions can clog pores. Minimizing the number of products used and choosing those that are labeled as “noncomedogenic” may help.
Preteen Acne Medications
Currently, no medications are approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne in children 12 years old and younger. However, this does not mean a dermatologist cannot prescribe one if he or she feels it would be safe and provide some benefit. Over the counter products such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid creams may be appropriate for preteens who are mature enough to follow the instructions safely and consistently.
Recently, pediatric dermatologists have also begun testing topical retinoids for acne treatment in children. For mild to moderate acne, .04% tretinoin has shown good results with only mild, temporary side effects such as skin irritation. In a study of 40 children from 8-12 years old, 75% showed noticeable clearing of their symptoms after 12 weeks of treatment with microsphere gel. Three months may seem like a long time to a child, but unfortunately there are currently no quick fixes for acne at any age.
Please feel free to comment any personal experiences with acne treatment for preteens below.