Acne: Common Concerns About a Common Skin Condition

By Timothy J. Flynn, M.D.

What does acne look like?

Acne can look different on different people, on different areas of the body, or at different times. Whiteheads, blackheads, red bumps, and pus-filled bumps are all acne.

When does acne happen?

Acne usually appears as children and teens enter puberty. Most children have at least some acne at some point in their development. Luckily, for most people, acne does not last forever.

Where does acne happen?

Acne is most frequently found on the face, chest, and back.

Are there any special considerations for females?

For girls, acne is sometimes related to menstrual cycles or can be a sign of a hormonal disorder.

Ok, what about males?

For boys, if there is acne on the face it can make shaving more difficult.

Does sports or sweating cause acne?

Sports and sweating don’t cause acne by themselves, but certain athletic equipment may trigger or worsen acne. Anything that traps heat and sweat against the skin can be problematic. For example, headgear, helmets, and chinstraps can trigger acne on the face.

What sunscreen/makeup/skin care products should a child or young adult with acne use?

Use a gentle soap to wash trouble areas. Skin care products and cosmetics labelled as “non comedogenic” will be less likely to cause acne.

What should we avoid?

Please avoid the temptation to pop pimples or scrub too vigorously! It can lead to permanent scarring!

When should I bring my child to see a doctor about acne?

Your child has a skin problem but you are not sure if it is acne or not.

Your child is very young and seems to have acne.

Acne is interfering with your child’s happiness or quality of life.

Acne is not getting better with anything that you have tried.

You are concerned that the acne is leading to permanent scarring.

You are concerned that acne is a sign of another medical problem.

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