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How To Manage Teenage Acne: Tips To Beat Skin Breakouts

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Feb 15, 2021

How To Manage Teenage Acne: Tips To Beat Skin Breakouts

Teens do not only go through behavioral changes; they also experience physical issues such as skin breakouts. Here are some expert-approved tips to manage and prevent teenage acne.

What Causes Acne: Factors That Aggravate The Skin Condition

First, what is acne?

Before we list down teenage acne treatments that work, let’s first define acne.

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It results in various skin breakouts, like pimples (also called pustules because they have whitish or yellowish pus at the center), blackheads, and whiteheads.

Puberty or adolescence often triggers acne breakouts because this is usually the time when the male hormone androgen increases. Androgen triggers more sebum or oil production. When the combination of oil, hair, and dead skin cells build up, the hair follicles become clogged and burst open, causing breakouts.

how to manage teenage acne

Tips on how to manage teenage acne

In case you notice acne breakouts in your teenager, or if they approach you about skin care tips for a clear complexion, keep the following practices in mind:

Gentle cleansing

Remind your teenager to wash their face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. You can also look for products that contain topical benzoyl peroxide; use your fingertips when applying the cleanser and then rinse with lukewarm water. Avoid aggressive scrubbing of the face with abrasive wash. Over-washing may result in your skin producing more oil.

Apply treatment and care for breakouts properly

After cleansing, you can apply topical treatments with active ingredients meant to clear breakouts. While most of these topical treatments are available even without a doctor’s prescription, it’s still highly recommended to get their approval. Examples of topical treatments include:

  • Salicylic acid, suitable for breaking down acne and fighting inflammation
  • Benzoyl peroxide, to kill bacteria, reduce sebum production, and clear the skin through peeling
  • Retinoid, useful for clearing the skin and preventing new breakouts

Don’t forget to strictly follow package instructions or the doctor’s orders regarding these products. Also, please don’t attempt to simultaneously use multiple products without the advice of a dermatologist.

Take care of your breakout as you would a wound, except you don’t need to cover it. Never prick or “pop” an acne breakout and avoid touching it to reduce infection risk.

Finally, choose appropriate products based on your skin type. For example, if you have oily skin, it might be best to choose gel-based products; for dry skin, creams might be better.

Talk to a dermatologist

If you and your child have tried the above tips to manage teenage acne and see no improvement after 6 to 8 weeks, talk to a dermatologist. They can further assess their condition and recommend the appropriate treatment.

For instance, some breakouts may not respond to treatment because they’re infected, and your child may need oral or topical antibiotics. Likewise, some procedures that treat acne breakouts can only be performed in the clinic. An example of a procedure is whitehead or blackhead extraction.

How to Prevent Acne Scars Naturally

Home remedies to manage and prevent teenage acne

Teenage acne treatments work better if you follow these skin care tips. Please note that these tips are essential if you have breakouts, but they can also prevent acne.

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Avoid products with alcohol, such as astringents. Remember: do not rub the skin.
  • Shower after activities that cause too much sweating and sebum production.
  • Avoid using an excessive amount of cosmetics.
  • Protect the skin from the sun. Remind them to use a sunscreen that does not clog pores.
  • Help your teenager manage stress as it causes breakouts to flare.

Final Reminders

While performing these suggestions on how to manage teenage acne, don’t forget to take care of your child’s mental health.

Remember that acne breakouts can take a toll on their self-esteem, so saying things like “Don’t worry about it, your pimples will go away,” or “It’s just normal, don’t mind it,” might not be a good idea. Instead, assure them that you’ll help treat their condition.

Finally, one study suggested that it’s not a good idea to frequently remind your kids to apply acne treatment as they might perceive it as “nagging.’ Rather, just remind them from time to time.

Learn more about Adolescence Health here. 


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Feb 15, 2021

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