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FAQ About Teens and Facial Skin Problems

The teenage years can be hard on your skin. Changes in hormones can lead to oily skin, acne breakouts, and all of the hazards of shaving.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to take care of your skin.

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked skin care questions.

I have pimples. What should I do?

Pimples begin when the pores in your skin get clogged with a type of oil called sebum.

Some sebum is important to keep your hair and skin from drying out. But hormone changes can cause your body to make too much of it.

Here are steps to get rid of pimples -- and keep new ones from forming:

  • Wash your face twice a day with a gel-based or foaming cleanser.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and products containing alcohol.
  • When washing your face, gently massage it with circular motions.
  • When you have finished washing, use a lotion with the acne medicine benzoyl peroxide. You can get these in the drug store or supermarket without a prescription.

If zits are interfering with your life or if they don't improve with your daily cleansing routine, you may want to see a dermatologist (a doctor who specializes in skin conditions) to prescribe a stronger medicine. There are also many things you can do on your own to help.

  • Don't pop pimples. Popping pimples can make them look worse and may cause them to leave a scar.
  • Keep your hair off your face, neck, or other pimple-prone areas. Oil and dirt from your hair can block pores. If you want to wear your hair longer, make sure you keep it clean.
  • Don't touch your face. This can spread bacteria that irritate pores.
  • If you wear glasses, keep them clean. Cleaning them can help keep the oil on them from blocking the pores where they touch your face.

If you follow these steps, you'll also help keep your face from getting greasy. Greasy skin can lead to pimples.

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I have acne scars. Will they go away?

First off, to reduce scarring, never squeeze zits. If a pimple does leave a red or brownish mark it should eventually go away on its own. Be patient -- it could take a year or more.

If your acne is under control but past pimples have left scars, there are things your dermatologist can do to help get rid of them.

The best treatment will depend on the type of scar and how bad it is. But these treatments aren't usually recommended for teens. Your dermatologist can give you more information.

What do I do to prevent or treat ingrown hairs?

When hair starts to appear on your face, shaving can help keep skin smooth. But sometimes hairs that are cut too short curl back into the skin. That can cause painful bumps that may fill with pus.

Here are some shaving tips to help prevent ingrown hairs:

  • Wet your face well.
  • Keep your skin relaxed.
  • Shave in the direction the hairs grow, usually downward.
  • Don't shave the same area twice.

If you have an ingrown hair it will probably heal on its own. You can help by not shaving for a while. If it does not get better, see your doctor.

My skin is dry and flaky. What should I do?

If your skin is dry and flaky, here's what you can do:

  • Avoid taking hot showers and baths. These can remove moisture from the skin.
  • Use a gel when shaving. Follow with a moisturizer.
  • Be sure to use sunscreen year-round.

Sometimes flaking is caused by a medical condition that needs special treatment. If you also have flaky scalp and flaking is mainly in the middle of your forehead and either side of your nose, you should see your doctor.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 16, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

TeensHealth from Nemours: "Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin," "Hygiene Basics," "Can Acne Scars Be Removed?" "Shaving."

University of Utah Health Care: "Treating Teen Acne."

University of Maryland Medical Center: "Sarah's Skin Care Tips."

University of Texas Medical School at Houston: "Chemical Peel."

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