Why You Should Treat Acne Early
For most people, acne is just part of growing up. Almost everyone has experienced a little bit of a breakout at some point in their lives. However, in recent years, acne treatments have gotten better and both doctors and parents are beginning to see the benefits of treating acne early instead of letting it run its course. Acne as a whole is harmless. However, it can be very painful (physically and emotionally) and in some cases, disfiguring.
What Is Acne?
According to dermatologists, acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S. Practically anyone can be prone to acne breakouts. Acne forms when the tiny holes in your skin called pores become blocked by oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and other environmental debris. When pores become clogged, your skin forms what is commonly referred to as a zit. Believe it or not, skin is the body’s largest organ, and in order to keep it healthy, we have to take proper care of it. Most of the time, acne will resolve on its own, but sometimes your child’s skin, just like yours, could use a little bit of extra help.
What Causes Acne?
The causes of acne are often attributed to puberty, but that’s not the only way this annoying and sometimes painful skin condition can occur. It’s true that growing children often experience acne, but as we mentioned acne can appear at any age, even in newborns and infants.
Acne is caused by a blockage of a pore, and our skin has about five million of them. In fact, our faces alone usually have about 20,000 (that’s a lot of pimples)! However, pores are more than just holes in our skin. Each one is the opening to a follicle, which contains a hair and a sebaceous gland, also known as an oil gland. Despite what some people might think, acne develops when your body is trying to do something good for you. As your pores excrete oil, the hair helps it travel to the surface of your skin, keeping your skin soft and lubricated. Your skin runs into trouble when those tiny glands begin producing too much oil, get clogged, or get infected with bacteria we come in contact with on a daily basis. If any one of these things happens, we develop acne.
Common Types of Acne
- Acne Vulgaris - This is the standard medical term for run-of-the-mill acne. It encompasses blackheads, whiteheads, and everything in between.
- Comedones - A comedone will turn either into a blackhead or a whitehead.
- Blackhead - If a comedone remains open, it turns into this familiar type of acne. Blackheads are filled with oil and dead skin cells. However, despite popular belief, the black appearance of blackheads isn’t caused by dirt or infection. It’s actually caused by the irregular reflection of light from our clogged pores.
- Whitehead - If A comedone remains closed, a whitehead will form. As with a blackhead, these occur within the presence of dead skin, and an excess of oil. When these items keep a hair follicle from opening, your skin produces a whitehead.
- Papules - If the comedones on your skin become irritated and inflamed then papules appear. These bumps can be sensitive to touch, and trying to pop them may cause them to get worse or even scar your skin.
- Nodules - These are sort of like mega-papules. They’re large, firm to the touch, and deeply embedded in the skin. Most doctors recommend not picking at these as they can cause major scarring and bruising.
- Cysts - This form of acne can be particularly painful. Large and pus-filled, it’s best to seek dermatological treatment for cysts.
Talking To Your Child About Acne
Acne is a nearly unavoidable part of life, but it can be debilitating in more ways than one. Talking to your child about acne is the best way to prepare them and to help them take charge of their own skincare routine. Most pediatricians can help prescribe medications to treat acne, but in some cases, they may refer you to a dermatologist, a doctor who specializes in skin health.
As common as it is, being bullied as a result of acne is still an issue that many children face. The psychological toll that acne takes can stay with your child well into adulthood, as can the physical scars. Acne is entirely treatable and talking to your pediatrician can help lift the weight of social anxiety and relieve the pain of uncomfortable, easily irritated acne lesions.
Acne treatment has come a long way over the years, but many of the basics are the same. Most dermatologists will recommend some combination of at-home skincare routines and medication. The bulk of acne treatment is preventative, so be prepared to have a discussion about self-accountability with your child.
The basic at-home regimen consists of keeping your skin clean, moisturized, and protected from the sun.
- Identify skin type (oily, dry, combination)
- Wash skin wild mild soap or a facewash designed for specific skin types
- Avoid touching your face with your hands
- Keep oily, unwashed hair off of your face
- Don’t pick at acne lesions that arise
- Wear pore-sensitive makeup
- Remove makeup at the end of the day with cleaning wipes
- Keep your skin moisturized with gentle products
- Look for skincare products that contain SPF protection
- Make sure that headbands and hats are clean and not too tight
Much of the time, at-home acne care products are enough to manage most normal breakouts. However, if you’re looking for a medicated solution, there are a couple of types your dermatologist might recommend, including facial creams designed to dry up existing acne patches and prevent new ones, soaps to help remove dead skin cells, and even oral or topical antibiotics your doctor can provide a prescription for.
If your child has already begun to experience scarring as a result of acne, there are a variety of treatments available that can help repair scarred skin. Some treatments may not be suitable for children or teens so it’s important to discuss your options with a dermatologist. Treatments include items like laser resurfacing, dermabrasion, skin needling, and more, all of which are designed to smooth skin and promote healing.
Let Pediatrics East Help Your Child Achieve Clearer Skin
At Pediatrics East, our passion is helping children be the best they can be. We believe that emotional health is just as important as physical health. We’ve been helping children treat and prevent acne for many years. If you’re interested in helping your child get clearer, healthier skin, make an appointment with your pediatrician today!
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