Acne is a teenage fact of life for 73% of young people between the ages of 12 and 19. The major cause of acne is heredity, which determines skin type. The surge of hormonal activity in adolescents can cause the oil or sebaceous glands, most numerous on the face, chest and back, to become more active — producing a fatty substance called “sebum” which can cause blackheads and pimples.
For mild acne, washing the face removes oil from the skin and keeps the pores open. Frequent shampoos can keep oily hair from adding oil to the infected areas.
If your teen has acne on the back, he or she should scrub once or twice daily with an antibacterial abrasive soap and a back brush. When washing isn’t enough, your teen needs to see a physician, possibly a dermatologist, who may prescribe special gels, lotions or oral medication to control the acne.
Do not assume your teen will simply outgrow acne. Untreated acne can cause cysts, scars and much emotional pain. Help is available for your teen today!
Dr. Wibbelsman, M.D., is an award-winning author and former “Dear Doctor” columnist for Teen magazine. Chair of Adolescent Medicine for the Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, he is chief of the Teen-Age Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Dr. Wibbelsman is the news anchor for a Bay Area television series, “Medicine in the Nineties”.