Acne in Preteens: Questions and Answers

Health Writer

While acne is usually associated with the teen years, preteens can also have acne. Acne is a common condition, often starting with the hormonal changes of puberty.  For some people, acne continues into adulthood. While acne is frequently a normal part of life, there are ways you can minimize acne outbreaks.

How Should I Take Care of My Skin?

You should wash your face twice a day - in the morning and again before going to bed. Washing your face more often can dry out your skin. However, if your skin is very oily, you can wash it in the middle of the day as well, being careful to not use drying products (such as acne treatments) too often. When washing your face, make sure not to scrub your face. This can cause irritation and redness and make acne more noticeable. Use your fingertips or a soft washcloth and wash your face using an  acne cleanser.

Should I Exfoliate My Skin?

Exfoliating your skin helps remove dead skin cells, which can clog your pores, so exfoliating is a good idea. You don't want to exfoliate every day, though, as this can cause dryness. Exfoliating once or twice a week is sufficient.

What Types of Acne Products Are Best to Use?

There are many over-the-counter acne products that are effective for mild acne. Look for products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Start with the lowest dose and work your way up - for example, start with a benzoyl peroxide product that is 2.5 percent once a day for a week, then go to twice a day. If after a few weeks, your acne hasn't improved, increase to the 5 percent. Use the products according to the instructions. Using the products excessively will dry out your skin and cause irritation.

Should I Still Moisturize My Face?

Although it seems like you shouldn't moisturize your skin if it is oily, you do want to apply a moisturizer every day. Look for oil-free moisturizers and apply after washing your face. This will help, especially if your are using acne products which can dry your skin.

How About Alternative Products, Such as Toothpaste for Pimples?

You might hear your friends say you should put toothpaste, cinnamon or glass cleaner on your pimples to help them go away. Stay away from these alternative methods. Use only products made for your face, on your face. These types of products can cause irritation and glass cleaner can burn your skin. There are spot treatments available in stores to use to help heal pimples.

What Should I Do if my Acne Doesn't Get Any Better?

If you are washing your face and using acne products and don't see any improvement in about two months or your acne continues to worsen, talk to your parents about taking you to the doctor. You will probably start with your family doctor, however, he or she might refer you to a dermatologist, who specializes in skin care. If the over-the-counter acne medications aren't working, your doctor might prescribe a stronger medication.

Will Popping Pimples Help?

Popping your pimples might seem like the quickest way to get rid of them, but this can cause more problems. It can make them bigger, redder and cause them to take longer to heal. It can also leave a scar, meaning once the pimple is gone, you will still have a darker circle on your face. If needed, you can apply a warm compress to a pimple which can sometimes cause it to pop naturally. You can also try over-the-counter spot treatments.

What About Sunscreen and Other Facial Products?

Whenever you are putting products on your face, such as sunscreen and moisturizer, you should look for oil-free products. Using products that contain oil can cause your skin to produce more oil and it can cause your pores to get clogged. Today, most facial products, such as sunscreen, moisturizer and makeup come in oil-free versions. Look at the labels to make sure you aren't adding to your acne by applying products with oil.


"Acne: Frequently Asked Questions," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, The University of Arizona Medical Center

"Information for Preteens: Body Science, About Acne," Date Unknown, Staff Writer, Sutter Health: Palo Alto Medical Foundation