Acne Comes of Age Earlier
Newswise — For many teenagers, acne has become an all-too-familiar rite of passage. While many teens and their parents brace themselves for this common skin condition, a growing number of preadolescents also are experiencing acne. The reason? Dermatologists believe an earlier onset of puberty may be to blame, causing hormones to trigger the start of acne sooner.
Now, a leading group of dermatologists considered experts in pediatric acne has developed new recommendations for treating acne in children of all age groups, which recently have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Age and Acne Severity Dictate Treatment
Acne occurring in preadolescents (defined as 7 to 12 year olds) is not typically severe and usually includes comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) on the “T-zone” area of the forehead, nose and chin. Larger, inflammatory lesions are uncommon in this age group, noted Andrea L. Zaenglein, MD, FAAD, a board-certified pediatric dermatologist and professor of dermatology and pediatrics at Penn State/Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa. She presented her findings at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer Academy Meeting
When determining the most appropriate acne treatments for preadolescents, dermatologists consider the child’s age and type of acne.
—For mild acne, dermatologists recommend an over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide product. If the acne does not respond to this treatment, dermatologists may offer topical therapy consisting of a combination of benzoyl peroxide, an antibiotic and/or a retinoid.
—Preadolescents with larger areas of comedonal acne with or without inflammatory lesions, which may include pimples or nodules, may require combination topical therapy and the addition of an age-appropriate oral antibiotic. Dr. Zaenglein notes that more frequent monitoring by the dermatologist is needed in these cases to determine improvement or progression of acne.
—Although rare in younger age groups, inflammatory acne with pimples and nodules has the potential for scarring. Dermatologists may order a blood work-up to rule out a hormonal imbalance.
Combination topical therapy along with an oral antibiotic will be prescribed initially. If acne does not respond to initial treatment, isotretinoin can be used safely in this age group with close and continual monitoring by a dermatologist for any adverse side effects.
While therapy can control acne for several years, Dr. Zaenglein advised that the condition needs to be monitored by a dermatologist throughout puberty for signs that acne may be worsening, as early onset of comedonal acne can be a predictor of more severe acne in teens or adults.
Dr. Zaenglein’s Tips for Parents
—Don’t panic – start with over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide products to see if acne improves.
—Encourage good cleansing habits – twice a day with a gentle, non-irritating, pH balanced cleanser.
—If acne is worsening, see a board-certified dermatologist to start combination therapy without delay.
—Stay involved in the child’s treatment routine to increase compliance, as it is unrealistic to expect young children to apply topical medications or take oral medications every day without parental guidance.
—Daily skin care and acne treatment need to become a habit, similar to brushing teeth.
—Parents and kids need to remember that improvement will not occur overnight; rather, it may take up to three months to see improvement in acne.
“Acne at any age can be frustrating, but it can be especially distressing for kids and parents when it develops sooner than expected,” said Dr. Zaenglein. “It is important for parents not to put off treatment thinking acne will go away on its own, especially if a child has severe acne or any scarring. Puberty lasts several years, as does acne, so proper treatment is essential.”
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August 8, 2013 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.