Most teens and young adults will experience acne at some point in their lives. However, according to dermatologists, kids as young as 6 or 7 can begin to develop acne and other skin problems. The earlier onset of puberty in many children has led to the earlier onset of hormonal acne, especially in girls. Treatment should be started at the first signs of trouble in order to prevent breakouts and avoid the spread of acne.
Causes of Acne in Children
Acne is caused by excessive oil production that can lead to clogged pores and a whole host of skin problems. Hormone changes during puberty, side effects from medication such as steroids, sweating, tight clothing, excessive use of makeup and other cosmetic products, and even stress can cause or worsen acne in children and teens of all ages. There can be a hereditary component to acne as well, so if you experienced severe acne as a child or teen, chances are your child will as well.
Types of Acne in Children
Kids suffering from acne can develop whiteheads, blackheads, blemishes, pimples, cysts, and even acne scarring. It typically appears first in the oily areas of the face, such as the forehead, nose, and chin, also called the “T-zone.” Kids and teens can also develop significant acne problems in other areas of the body, such as the back and shoulders. Acne can even get infected or inflamed without the proper treatment.
Cystic acne is a particularly severe form of acne that can lead to frequent infections and cysts that require drainage or removal. A cyst is a collection of dead skin cells, bacteria, and oil that leads to a pus-filled pocket under the skin. Cysts should never be popped at home; instead, they should be managed under the care of a professional. Cystic acne can be extremely painful and often requires prescription-strength solutions.
Prevention and Treatment of Acne in Children
The most common way of controlling acne is through the use of products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Sprays, creams, soaps, and washes can all help to control the development of acne and speed up skin healing. Kids may need assistance and reminders to properly manage their skincare routine.
A proper skincare routine should include washing the skin once or twice a day, avoiding touching the face, avoiding popping pimples or picking at the skin, washing off makeup at the end of the day, and showering promptly after exercise. Treatment can take several weeks or months to begin working.
When OTC treatments are not working, severe acne may require oral antibiotics or topical prescription treatments. Some of these treatments can be harsh and come with side effects, so be sure to discuss all of the benefits and risks with your child’s doctor before proceeding.