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7 reasons to treat acne early

Treating acne early can clear the skin, which may prevent acne scars, worsening acne, or years of living with acne.

If your teen or pre-teen has acne, you may decide to let the acne run its course. The most-effective strategy, however, may be to treat acne when it first appears. Here are 7 science-backed reasons why that appears to be your best option.

You can:

  1. Get faster results from treatment. Acne treatment takes time regardless of whether you’re treating mild or severe acne. That said, it does take less time and effort to clear a few pimples than a breakout that could include blackheads, whiteheads, and deep-seated acne cysts.
  2. Reduce scars. Treating acne early may prevent acne scars. In general, the more severe the acne, the more likely it is to scar.
    While severe acne is most likely to leave scars, mild acne can scar when picked.
    Treating at the first sign of acne may also prevent someone from developing a habit of picking at their acne, so the person may never develop acne scars.
  3. Stop lingering spots from developing when acne clears. Anyone who has medium-to-dark colored skin may see a dark spot appear when an acne pimple, cyst, or nodule clears. Dermatologists call this post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).
    People with light-colored skin may see a red spot where acne once was.
    These spots can linger for months. Many consider it worse to have these lingering spots than the acne itself.
  4. Prevent mild acne from becoming severe. Early treatment can prevent a few pimples from progressing to widespread blackheads, whiteheads, and deep, painful acne.
  5. Decrease the likelihood you’ll need stronger acne medicine. When acne becomes severe, strong medicine is needed to see clearing. These medicines have more possible side effects and require close monitoring by a dermatologist. That means more office visits.
  6. Avoid years of acne. Acne can begin at a young age. Dermatologists now see 7-to-12 year-olds with acne.
    Treating acne early and keeping it under control can prevent future breakouts. Today, that can add up to a substantial number of years without acne. Many people have acne into one 20s. For some adults, acne persists well into their 30s, 40s, and even 50s or 60s.
  7. Sidestep emotional distress. Acne can cause more than breakouts. Studies show that acne can also take a toll on one’s psyche. Many say their self-esteem suffered after developing acne. Some people with acne withdraw from people in their lives.
    The severity of the acne doesn’t seem to matter. Acne can have negative effect on self-esteem and relationships whether one has mild or severe acne.
    One large study found that having acne can lead to depression and thoughts of committing suicide. Other studies show that treating acne can alleviate these feelings.

If you unsure of what would be the best treatment for your teen’s or pre-teen’s acne, seeing a dermatologist can help. A dermatologist can look at the type of acne on your child’s skin and recommend effective products. That one visit could improve your child’s quality of life for many years to come.

Image: Thinkstock

American Academy of Dermatology. “Acne comes of age earlier.” News release issued August 2, 2013. Last accessed April 28, 2017.

American Academy of Dermatology. “Acne by the numbers.” In: Burden of Skin Disease. Last accessed April 28, 2017.

Zaenglein AL. “Making the case for early treatment of acne.” Clin Pediatr. 2010;49(1):54-9.

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