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Teenage Acne 101: Causes & Treatments for Teen Hormonal Acne

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Current vibe: back-to-school season. Whether you’re going back to school IRL or doing the virtual learning thing, either way, you want to be stunnin’ with your squad on Zoom sessions or Tik Tok videos. We get it. But, if you clicked on this blog post, you’re probably dealing with a little thing called acne that’s cramping your style. 

First off, know that acne is very normal. Let us throw some stats at you that may leave you feeling shook. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal, 80% of people experience acne in their teens and twenties.🙀That’s almost all the people. Thankfully, a glow up is real. There are things you can do to make your skin look and feel like #GOALS. 

Below, we spill the tea on what causes teenage acne, plus dermatologist-recommended acne treatments for teens. 

Why and how acne starts during adolescence 

There are a few reasons why acne makes a grand appearance during your teenage years. The main one being—surprise, surprise—hormones. Androgen hormones (aka the hormones that contribute to male characteristics) such as testosterone increase in both teenage girls and boys during puberty, says board-certified dermatologist Rawn Bosley, MD, of Prism Dermatology. The higher levels of hormones then increase the skin’s oil production, adds double-board certified dermatologist Brendan Camp, MD, of Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery

In other words, once you officially enter your teenage years, your hormones get lit, and your skin’s oil supply goes from 0 to 💯real quick, and that’s not a good thing. More oiliness means more inflammation and bacteria growth, which results in acne, and that’s so not the vibe. Dr. Bosley says teen boys going through puberty experience an even more drastic increase in androgen levels than girls do, making them more susceptible to acne breakouts. 

5 treatments to manage teenage hormonal acne

When treating teenage acne (aka testosterone acne, aka hormonal acne), Dr. Bosley recommends adopting a combination of treatments to address the different factors such as clogged pores, excess oil, inflammation, and acne-forming bacteria that trigger acne. Here are the five best teenage acne treatments, according to the pros. 

1. Start a non-basic skincare routine

Keeping your skin looking selfie-ready requires a good skincare routine. Dr. Bosley recommends washing your face twice a day with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which will exfoliate your skin and kill acne-causing bacteria. Then follow that with a topical retinoid (more deets on that below), and cap things off with an oil-free non-comedogenic moisturizer. 

2. Use retinoid treatments

To tackle the acne-forming bacteria, Dr. Bosley advises using a topical retinoid. “Retinoids are useful in reducing clogged pores and inflammation in the skin,” he says. Your dermatologist can also prescribe you prescription retinoids such as tretinoin. “Tretinoin helps treat acne by regulating cell turnover and preventing blocked pores,” Dr. Camp says. “Many prescription retinoids are approved for use in children ages nine and older; some are approved for ages 12 and older.” 

3. Ask your doctor about oral medications 

Oral medications such as birth control and antibiotics are another way to treat teenage acne. “In teenage girls, oral medications that regulate hormones such as birth control medications are FDA-approved in the treatment of acne,” Dr. Bosley says. “Oral antibiotics and oral retinoids can also be used in both teenage boys and girls to address moderate to severe acne.” 

4. Slay the day with acne patches

If you’re looking for a low key way to get rid of pimples, Mighty Patch Invisible + is a real one. It’s a daytime acne patch so you can pop it on your pimple in the morning and it’ll go undetected all day while it gets down and dirty sucking out all the cringy pus inside the pimple. If you catch the zit early and still chilling under your skin, hit it with a Micropoint for Blemishes. It’ll deliver acne-fighting ingredients to the pimple’s core, which will reduce redness and shrink it down because ain’t nobody got time for that. 

5. Visit your dermatologist

Lastly, if you’re dealing with persistent and severe acne that just won’t quit, the best thing to do is visit a board-certified dermatologist. They’ll help you determine the best acne treatment for you that will make your skin look good in no time. Now all you need is a fire fit to complete your back-to-school lewk.

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