Authored by Revere Health

Pre-Teen Acne 101

March 8, 2018 | Family Medicine

Causes of Acne Breakouts

Acne is a major concern for many pre-teens and adolescents. About 17 million people have acne in the US alone, and roughly 80 percent of all pre-teens and teens will get experience acne at some point in their lifetime. Here’s what you need to know about acne, how to prevent and manage it, and what questions parents can ask healthcare providers when it comes to their pre-teen’s acne.


What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin condition that manifests itself as various types of bumps on the skin. These bumps develop when the pores of the skin get clogged with oil, dead skin and bacteria. There are a few types of acne bumps:

  • Whiteheads: Clogged pores that close up and bulge out from the skin
  • Blackheads: Clogged pores that remain open, leaving a dark top surface
  • Pimples: When the pore walls break, it allows contaminants to reach under the skin and leads to a small red mark
  • Cysts: Clogged pores that open deep in the skin, leading to larger infections


When and Why Acne Develops

Acne used to be seen only as a teen issue, but many pre-teens are experiencing it earlier and earlier. Acne is often due to hormonal changes that accompany puberty around this age—hormones lead to more oil secretion, and when this reaches a certain point, the pores may become clogged result in acne. Stress and family history of acne may also play a role in acne development.


Preventing Acne

There are several areas you or your child can consider to keep acne from forming or spreading:

  • Wash your face gently: When washing the face, do not scrub heavily—this can irritate the skin and actually make acne worse. Instead, wash gently using only your hands, and never a rough washcloth. Be sure to remove all makeup while washing, and if you’ve been exercising or sweating often, wash your face more regularly.
  • Use the right products: When wearing facial products like makeup, sunscreen or moisturizer, only choose items that are oil-free, noncomedogenic, or nonacnegenic. If you use any hair sprays or gels, keep them away from the face to avoid them clogging the pores.
  • Avoid touching your skin: Try to avoid touching your face too often, as well as picking, squeezing or popping any pimples that have formed.
  • Take care of your hair: Hair can harbor acne-causing oils—if you have long hair, wash it often and keep it away from your face as much as you can. In addition, if you wear baseball caps regularly, know that these and other hats can lead to acne on the hairline due to sweat buildup—reduce how often you wear hats if you notice hairline acne becoming an issue.


Managing Acne

Even with these prevention techniques, however, not all cases of acne can be prevented. If acne does occur, some possible solutions include:

  • Benzoyl peroxide: This is a solution that can be purchased over-the-counter and kills bacteria that leads to acne. It also can reduce swelling in pimples.
  • Salicylic acid: A formula that leads to the skin drying and peeling, which can remove pimples.
  • Formulated cleansers: Using a non-abrasive, pH-balanced cleanser twice a day can go a long way.
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure: The idea that sitting in the sun helps acne is simply false. Getting a tan from such activity may cover the appearance of acne to some degree, but it won’t affect the root of the problem at all.
  • Visit a doctor or dermatologist: For serious acne cases, a doctor or dermatologist can prescribe stronger medications or creams to help reduce symptoms.

Questions to Ask

Here are some questions to ask regarding acne care for your child:

  • Which over-the-counter creams should my child be using?
  • Does my child need a stronger prescription medication?
  • Is it safe to use antibiotics as additional medication?
  • Is scarring a concern for my child?

Your family doctor can offer further recommendations on preventing or managing adolescent acne.


Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages, and committed to provide thorough and timely health care for the entire family throughout all stages of life.




“Pre-teens and acne. Ugh! Starting already?” Dr. Leslie Greenberg’s Blog.


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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.