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Treating Teen Acne In Boys

10 Things You Must Know About Treating Teen Acne in Boys

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Updated October 25, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Most teen boys get acne. It's a normal part of being a teenager... but it kind of sucks.

If you're willing to put in a little bit of time smearing some stuff on your face, and a little bit of patience waiting for it to work, you can get your acne under control.

1. Separate Fact From Fiction

Would you be surprised to learn that acne isn't caused by a dirty face? Acne is not caused by foods like chocolate or French fries, either.

Some people are just prone to acne, and these factors are out of your control. It's not your fault that you're breaking out. Knowing what really causes acne (and what doesn't) will help you focus on treatments that work.

2. Those Products You See On TV Don't Clear Acne Overnight

The good news is there are lots of acne treatment products on the market today that actually can clear the skin. But even the most effective acne treatments aren't going to clear the skin overnight. They won't even clear acne in three days, contrary to what the TV commercial says.

If you're looking for a good OTC acne treatment, the most effective will contain benzoyl peroxide. Look for that ingredient. It will take at least a few weeks before you start to really notice a change in your skin. If you're patient, you will see improvement (just not as quickly as some products claim).

3. Over-the-Counter Products Might Not Be Enough

If you've tried a ton of OTC products and you're still breaking out, it's time to call in for some help. Your doctor has plenty of prescription options that will help you get your acne under control.

You don't necessarily have to see a dermatologist. Your family doctor has probably helped lots of teenagers treat acne. You can see your regular doc first (they'll refer you to a dermatologist if needed.)

Prescription medications are obviously stronger and usually work faster than over-the-counter treatments. And they work when OTC treatments haven't.

4. Don't Skip Your Treatments

Once you get your treatments home, you actually have to use them. Sorry, guys, but teen boys are notorious for forgetting to use their treatments. And if you're not using them, they aren’t going to clear your skin.

I know you're busy, and using treatments is a hassle, and sometimes you just flat-out forget. Using those treatments is important, though, so try to do whatever it takes to use them every day. That might mean leaving them next to your toothbrush to jog your memory, or asking your parents to help remind you. Whatever it takes, just try not to skip your treatments.

5. Use Your Treatments Correctly

Not only do you have to remember to use your treatments, but you also have to use them correctly. I know, it sounds like a pain. Once you get into the habit of using your treatments, though, it really isn't that bad and doesn't take too much time.

Make sure you know exactly how to use your acne medications. That means reading all directions (even if it seems obvious) and following the instructions your doctor gives you (ask if you have questions).

6. Take Care of Your Skin Every Day

Even though acne isn't caused by not washing your face, that excess oil and dirt that builds up throughout the day won't help matters. Sweat can also irritate the skin and make acne worse. So a good skin care routine is important.

It only takes a few minutes and you don't need a ton of fancy products. Just a basic face soap or cleanser and a moisturizer (if your skin is feeling dry) is all you need.

7. Be Careful To Not Shave Pimples

Shaving is another matter. If you have pimples in the beard area, shave carefully. Go around them if at all possible. Or at least try to avoid shaving the tops off of your pimples.

The more you irritate your skin, the more red and inflamed it's going to look. The skin on the face can be sensitive, so try to treat it gently. This may mean shaving less often, at least until your acne isn't so inflamed.

8. Body Acne Can Be Treated Too

The face isn't the only place that acne can pop up. You might get acne on your chest, back, shoulders and neck. It happens; it's common.

Many of the same medications that are used for the face are also used for the body. Benzoyl peroxide soaps and body washes are often used to treat body breakouts. Your doctor might also prescribe other medications, like oral antibiotics or even isotretinoin (Accutane), depending on how serious the breakouts are.

9. Stick With It

No matter what treatment you're using -- whether it's something you got from your doctor or the drugstore -- you need to stick with it long enough for it to work.

It takes a long time for a treatment to work. Stick with your medication for at least 8-10 weeks before deciding if it's working or not. Don't jump from treatment to treatment. And expect to get new pimples during this time, too. They won't stop all at once, but rather slowly start fading away.

Don't stop once your skin clears, either. Acne medications don't stop acne for good; they just keep it under control. So if you stop using the medication, acne will probably come right back (the exception here would be isotretinoin/Accutane). At some point your acne will go away on its own and you'll finally be able to get rid of your acne treatments for good. Until then, stick with it.

10. Acne Can Make You Feel Bad, But You Can Beat It

You may not want to admit it to anyone, but acne can take a toll on your self-esteem. It can make you feel less confident, insecure, angry, and depressed. These are normal feelings.

Starting with treatment and seeing some good results can help you immediately feel better. So can focusing on things other than your skin (sports, music, art, or any other interests you have).

But sometimes you just can't seem to not think about your acne. If acne is controlling more of your life than you want it to, let someone know. Tell your parents, a favorite teacher or clergy person, your doctor, anyone you trust.

Acne is a normal part of being a teenager. You can get through it, you can get over it, and you can feel good about your skin and yourself again.

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