It's not the easiest topic to broach, but NYC-based dermatologist Amy Wechlsler, MD, has tips.

By Lindsy Van Gelder
Photo by Getty Images

If you’ve been on the receiving end of teenage flounces and eye rolls, you might hesitate to broach this sensitive subject. Don’t worry, advises Amy Wechsler, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist who is also a psychiatrist. “I’ve never met a teenager who wasn’t bothered by their acne,” she says. “As long as you’re not judgmental, they will feel so relieved that you’re taking care of them.”

Acne Is a Big Deal

The worse thing you can do is blow off a kid’s concern and behave as if acne is nothing to worry about. It is. “Acne comes along at just the age when kids are building self-esteem,” Wechsler cautions. Reassure them that even if they feel like they’re the only one, at least 92% of their peers will deal with acne to some degree. Above all, tell them that “acne is always treatable,” says Wechsler. 

Visit the Dermatologist

There’s nothing wrong with going to a derm right away. A kid who has acne on the face, chest and back is also a candidate for more aggressive prescription meds and treatments (including lasers, low-dose Accutane and oral antibiotics). But most teens will be fine with over-the-counter products. Just let them know up front that it will take six to eight weeks (also known, in teenager terms, as forever) to see results. During this time, Wechsler says your role as a parent is to “be their cheerleader.” 

Empower Your Teen

Check out these great resources for your teen to help remind them they’re never alone.

  • Read the latest dermatologist-approved advice about acne on the AFBlog at acnefree.com.
  • Follow #skinpositivity and #embraceyourface to help destigmatize acne.
  • Register at theclearskinproject.com to connect to a community of other people with acne.

—Melissa Matthews Brown

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