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Tips on how to treat teen acne

September 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
For teens who suffer from acne, the quest for a clear complexion can be daunting. With school back in session, many want to do everything they can to block those blotches permanently and that includes squeezing and picking their skin. But experts say all that touching can just inflame the situation. Like most teenagers, Lauren Fried battles blemishes.

"Sometimes it's just little pimples," said Fried. "Sometimes it's one really big one."

As the daughter of a dermatologist, she knows squeezing is not the answer. But Fried has a confession: even she can't resist taking matters into her own hands.

"You know it's the wrong thing to do, but sometimes you just want to do it because it makes you feel so much better," said Fried.

With class back in session, dermatologists are seeing an increase in students who pick, squeeze and dig into their skin. Some even go as far as using tools, like a safety pin.

"Acne can have major social implications, and so the urge to do something that can remove the pimple as fast as possible is especially an issue amongst teenagers," said Dr. Andrew Alexis, American Academy of Dermatology.

"When it's you that has bad skin you just think that everyone's watching you," said Fried.

While teens think popping zits will get rid of their problem. Doctors say picking can cause tremendous trauma to the skin, ranging from redness and dark spots to inflammation and scarring. It can even cause the acne to spread.

"While the goal is to get what's inside the pimple outward, you can inadvertently spread some of the contents the other way, deeper into the skin," said Dr. Alexis.

There is also the risk of infection. Dermatologists say look for over-the-counter ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. If those don't help you should make an appointment.

"Seeing a dermatologist to get started on a good, effective acne regimen will really be the most important thing to help control the acne," said Dr. Alexis.

Fried says, when she sees a spot she tries to increase her acne regimen. And if she feels someone staring she just walks away.

"You really just sort of need to take a deep breath and walk away and put on a lot of cover up," said Fried.

If scarring is an issue, Dr. Alexis says a variety of in-office treatments are available, including lasers and chemical peels.


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