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Healthy Teen Skin

Acne Care for Youth

Teen Acne

For many adults, one of the most trying times in life they can remember may have been as a teenager dealing with an acne condition that diminished self-esteem. Oftentimes, acne may make you shy or embarrassed, can cause someone to be the subject of insensitive comments or ‘jokes’ made by others, and can decrease overall confidence or cause social withdrawal. Even as breakouts calm down or stop, sometimes there are scars and dark marks left behind as a result, and can be a reminder of emotional stress. Today, there are more options than ever that can help families get a handle on this common concern.

If you have a teen suffering from acne that is not under control, seeing a Board-Certified Dermatologist (an expert in treating skin conditions) is highly recommended. This is where you can get a professional assessment of your child’s type of acne condition, guidance, and a treatment program that will work for them.

What causes acne?

Acne is partly an inherited tendency, if other family members have a history of acne, you may be more likely to develop it as well, especially in the teen years. Androgen hormones that increase in boys and girls during puberty cause our oil or sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum. The oil flows out onto the skin through our hair follicles. In the case of acne developing, pores become blocked and often inflamed with bacteria leading to pustules, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts.

What medications can a dermatologist use to help manage my acne?

Prescription-strength topical agents are stronger and can be much more effective at targeting than over-the-counter (OTC) options. Prescribed options include: benzoyl peroxides, clindamycin, tretinoin, azelaic acid, dapsone, oral antibiotics minocycline and doxycycline, and Accutane can be given for more significant acne conditions. Accutane is the strongest acne medication and can potentially cure acne.

What OTC treatments can I try to help manage my acne?

1. Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or glycolic acid cleansers
2. Topical treatments containing benzoyl peroxide for bacteria control, adapalene or retinol to exfoliate and keep pores clear, and sulfur to calm inflammation and absorb excess oil being produced
4. Certain probiotics taken orally

5. A moisturizer! A step skipped by many, the correct moisturizer actually helps to balance your skin. An oil free, skin hydrator containing acne-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which binds water moisture to your skin is important to skin healing and protection of the skin’s natural barrier function.

Using a moisturizer can help your skin tolerate certain drying acne medications. A moisturizer can also be helpful any time your skin feels dry, such as during the winter. To find a moisturizer that won’t cause breakouts, look for one of these descriptions on the container:

  • Oil-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Won’t clog pores

Acne Skincare Tips

  1. Be gentle with your skin. Cleansing and exfoliating too often or scrubbing too much may cause more irritation and dryness. Make sure you have the appropriate products for your skin type.
  2. Wash your face in lukewarm water twice a day, and immediately after sports/aerobic activities. A good idea is to keep facial cleansing wipes on-hand to remove surface sweat and dirt right away when full cleansing is not an option. If you have oily hair, be sure to shampoo daily.
  3. Change pillowcases twice weekly.
  4. Keep your hands off of your face! The urge to pick at your acne may be compelling, but it only causes more problems (adding/spreading bacteria, potential for dark marks or scarring and delayed healing).
  5. Wear SPF30+ daily and stay out of the sun and tanning beds. Tanning damages your skin and alters its ability to heal properly. In addition, some acne medications make the skin very sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) light, which you get from both the sun and indoor tanning devices. FYI: Using tanning beds increases your risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75%.

In-office Medical Treatments

Additional assistance can be provided in clearing acne with skincare services such as:

Intralesional Cortisone Injections and Extractions

Acne treatment is the process of extractions and intralesional cortisone injections which decrease inflammation to relieve discomfort and encourage faster healing of pustules and painful cysts.

Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are liquid solutions applied to the skin to accelerate the exfoliation of surface dead skin cells. There are many different acids that can be used to perform a chemical peel. For acne, peels used commonly contain salicylic acid, which can penetrate deeper into the pores to clear excess oil. The appropriate type and strength is chosen to improve tone, texture and can also help curb breakouts. 

Blue Light Therapy

The Omnilux LED blue light is used to stimulate porphyrins leading to the destruction of acne causing bacteria. In the absence of the bacteria inflammation subsides over a period of time. During this treatment, the light is placed directly over your skin for 20 minutes while you relax.

Intense Pulsed Light

The Nordlys™ system utilizes advanced IPL (intense pulsed light) technology to  acne by reducing the blood supply to the sebaceous glands to slow down the production of sebum. No topical anesthetics are required and many patients describe the treatment as practically pain-free, like a flick from a rubber band, followed by a sensation similar to the feeling of a mild sunburn.


The MicroPen EVO creates controlled micro-injuries to the skin with the use of a pen-like device containing tiny surgical steel needles. The skin’s repair process results in collagen growth which improves the appearance of pores and acne scars and the improvement of the skin’s texture, tone, and color. This type of treatment is best utilized after active breakouts have been minimized/controlled to repair damage left behind as a result.

For more information, contact Grosse Pointe Dermatology at 313.886.2600 or at

Acne trigger factors:

1. Moisturizers and cosmetic products that contain pore-clogging oils or skin irritants
2. Pressure on acne-affected areas with clothing such as hats, sporting equipment such as helmets and shoulder pads and backpacks
3. Stress can increase the hormone cortisol
4. A diet containing higher levels of dairy and glutens
5. Insufficient sleep
6. Smoking cigarettes
7. Menstrual cycles in girls

  • Chemical Peel
  • Blue Light
  • Nordly's Laser
  • Microneedling