Acne in Teenagers: Do's and Don'ts

Teenagers can suffer from acne lesions very often. Here, we'll tell you the do's and don'ts of acne in teenagers. Keep reading.
Acne in Teenagers: Do's and Don'ts

Last update: 20 June, 2022

For teenagers, acne is one of the most troubling and troubling skin conditions. It also has an impact on their self-esteem and limits their social relationships. Although it’s a skin disorder that mostly appears on the face, it can also appear on other parts of the body, such as the trunk, arms, and back. Fortunately, with some care, it’s possible to lessen the symptoms of acne in teenagers and look good despite the annoying pimples. Today, we’ll tell you how. Don’t miss out!

Tips for dealing with acne in teenagers

Acne in teenagers is the result of inflammation of the pilosebaceous unit of the skin, whose course is quite prolonged and annoying.

In most cases, the lesions are produced by Propionibacterium acnes, a bacterium that is part of the normal flora of our skin. In the face of certain physical and hormonal changes, this germ enters the thickness of the epidermis through its pores and infects its structures.

Although it’s a condition to be expected at this age and isn’t always preventable, it’s possible to improve it with the implementation of some tips. Take note!

1. A healthy and balanced diet

Although there’s a controversial association between acne and diet, cow’s milk and its derivatives usually favor its appearance.

In addition, some studies published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology describe that insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a component of milk, stimulates the pilosebaceous unit. IGF-1 levels increase during puberty and this is what correlates with the high prevalence of acne.

A change in diet is recommended to avoid pimples, avoiding dairy products and foods with a high glycemic index, such as soft drinks, sweets, and ultra-processed foods.

A teen girl eating a salad.
A healthy, complete, and balanced diet is a good strategy to avoid alterations in the bacterial flora of the skin. It even reduces the risk of developing other health problems.

2. Regular skin cleansing

Acne is an unavoidable skin disorder, but it can be treated and controlled through proper daily skin cleansing, especially with products that keep the pH of the skin surface within normal values.

In addition, bacteria that are part of the skin’s microbiota can accumulate excessively. If the skin surface isn’t cleaned, hair follicles can become clogged and develop certain complications, such as hyperkeratosis or cysts.

3. Specific acne products

Topical acne treatment medications are gels, lotions, and creams that are applied to the skin. Some of the components used are as follows:

  • Salicylic acid: this active ingredient helps exfoliate the most superficial layers of the skin to prevent the hair follicles from becoming clogged with acne-causing bacteria.
  • Benzoyl peroxide: this ingredient dries acne comedones, prevents the development of new lesions, and eliminates the bacteria that cause acne.
  • Antibiotics: clindamycin or erythromycin are the most useful drugs to completely eliminate acne-causing bacteria in moderate to severe cases.
  • Retinoids: retinol is used in persistent cases of acne to unclog pores. Adapalene, a once-daily retinoid gel that is absorbed quickly, can also be used.

Some of these medications are available for purchase by prescription and some are available over the counter. In general, it’s advisable to apply a thin layer of them on the skin in the morning or before bedtime, after cleansing the skin (depending on the active ingredient used).

What behaviors should teenagers with acne avoid?

One of the main consequences of acne in teenagers that we try to avoid is permanent damage to the surface of the skin. We’ll tell you what not to do when you get pimples.

1. Don’t touch them with your fingers

It’s best to let acne lesions resolve on their own. Therefore, it’s counterproductive to squeeze pimples in an attempt to drain their contents. This can only worsen the condition or leave permanent scars.

In fact, touching pimples can move infected material into the deeper layers of the skin and develop further inflammation and erythema. It can even form residual hyperpigmented lesions.

2. Avoid tight clothing

In those cases in which characteristic acne lesions appear on the body, it’s best to avoid wearing tight clothing, as these cause irritation and clog pores. Headbands, scarves, hats, and headbands can also accumulate dirt and grease.

3. Don’t use oily or comedogenic products on your skin

Cosmetic products with a high oil (or comedogenic) component can cause obstruction of the hair follicles. Therefore, it’s advisable to add “non-comedogenic” products to your skincare routine. Even prioritize sunscreens made for oily skin.

You may be interested in: “There’s No Magic Solution for Treating Acne” – Rocío Gil Redondo

4. Always use sunscreen

The use of sunscreen is a universal recommendation, whether your skin is acne-prone or not. Although it may seem that tanning eliminates acne or conceals it, it’s only temporary and can favor the development of later marks.

In fact, tanning can worsen acne, instead of resolving or improving it.

A teen girl putting acne cream on her skin.
Avoid using creams or homemade products to treat acne that haven’t been properly tested. Consult your doctor before using them!

5. Avoid home remedies or treatments

Some home remedies that people recommend for acne treatment can worsen the condition and complicate it. Avoid using all of them, whether toothpaste, lemon juice, baking soda, turmeric, or honey masks.

If in doubt, consult your dermatologist about how to treat acne in adolescence.

Teenagers with acne and its emotional impact

Teenagers who suffer from acne also often suffer from emotional problems. In fact, they’re sometimes teased because of the appearance of their face. Pimples can even cause pain, discomfort, or itching, which further aggravates the condition.

A dermatologist is a doctor who will indicate the optimal treatment and offer appropriate counseling on how to prevent and control acne outbreaks.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Danby FW. Acne and milk, the diet myth, and beyond. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Feb;52(2):360-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2004.09.022. PMID: 15692488.
  • Gebauer K. Acne in adolescents. Aust Fam Physician. 2017 Dec;46(12):892-895. PMID: 29464224.
  • How to control oily skin. [Internet] Disponible en:

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.