Acne is a problem that plaques the majority of teenagers at one point or another. The distress and frustration of the patient and parent are palpable when I walk into the exam room. There are a few main points that I like to make sure teenagers and parents understand when we are embarking on a treatment plan.
1. Make a routine
This might be a challenge if the young person doesn’t really have a routine for their skin care. Establishing good habits regarding washing their face and applying their prescribed or over-the- counter medications is absolutely essential. This will be harder for some kids more than others. Parents can help them by going over the plan together to strategize how to make it fit their lifestyle. Write the steps down and tape them to a mirror, set alarms on their phone, post embarrassing reminders on social media…whatever works for your family.
2. Make it Accessible
Teenagers are busy, distracted and difficult to pin down. Make sure they have the preferred cleanser available wherever they bathe or wash their face, especially if that is multiples houses or bathrooms. Help them figure out the best way to transport their medications, when necessary. Most teenagers are very capable of being in charge of their treatment, once they have the hang of it.
3. More is Not Better
It is not usual for my younger patients to use to large a quantity of their topical medications, hoping that more medication will mean faster results. Unfortunately, this often backfires by causing irritation which then makes the patient stop treatment completely. We usually use a “green pea” as the typical amount of medication needed for the face, and additional peas for chest and back, if needed.
This is by far the hardest one. Acne treatment does work over night. The process of a pimple can take, quite literally, weeks. This means that the process of preventing pimples will also take weeks. I want my teenage patients to know that they have to stay committed to the routine
regardless of what is happening in their pimple population. Acne-prone skin will bristle at the changes evoked by the medications, and can take time to respond. As a parent, try to be patient and encouraging to your child. We typically see patients back at six to eight weeks. This is the amount of time that is required to see meaningful improvement in the skin. Always consult with Dr. Gant if treatment isn’t going the way you had hoped. Acne patients come in often so that we can keep the lines of communication open and make changes when needed. As a survivor of terrible acne, Dr. Gant feels a special connection and dedication to her young adult patients with acne.