Treating Acne in Teenage Boys

Most teen boys get acne. While acne is a normal part of being a teenager, there are things you can do to clear up your skin.

Tips for clearing acne
Verywell / Alexandra Gordon

Don't Believe the Myths

Would you be surprised to learn that acne is not caused by a dirty face? Acne is not caused by foods like chocolate or french fries, either. And, contrary to what you may have heard, acne isn't caused by masturbating, having sex, or the lack either.

Acne is triggered by hormonal fluctuations during puberty, not by outside influences. Thanks to genetics, some people are just naturally more prone to developing pimples.

It's tough when you're breaking out and your friends have clear skin, but understand that it's not your fault that you have acne. Knowing what really causes acne (and what doesn't) will help you focus on treatments that work.


Effective Acne Treatments Are Available

There are many acne treatment products on the market today that can actually clear your skin. But even the most effective products aren't going to work like magic overnight, despite TV commercial promises (this is another acne treatment myth). Contrary to what the commercial says, they won't cure acne, either.

It will take likely at least six to eight weeks before you start to really notice a change in your skin, and 12 weeks before you see an optimal response. If you're patient, you will almost certainly see improvement. It just won't be as quick as some products claim.


Start With OTC Acne Treatments

If your acne is mild, or if you've just started breaking out, you may be able to clear your skin with over-the-counter (OTC) acne medications. But not all acne products are created equal.

The most effective will contain retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, or salicylic acid. Look for these listed as the active ingredients on the label. Don't worry too much about the brand name, or what form of treatment you're using (i.e. cleanser, medicated pads, lotion). Instead, choose a product that fits your budget and is easy for you to use.

If over-the-counter products are right for you, you should notice an improvement within 10 to 12 weeks. Once you do, though, you'll have to keep using the acne product. If you stop, acne will come back.


You May Need a Prescription Treatment

If you've tried a ton of OTC products and you're still breaking out, it's time to call for backup. Your doctor has plenty of prescription acne treatment options that will help you get your acne under control.

You don't necessarily have to see a dermatologist, either. It's likely that your family doctor has helped many teenagers with acne. You can see your regular doctor first and they'll refer you to a dermatologist if they think it's necessary.

The advantage here is that prescription medications are going to be stronger and they usually work faster than OTC treatments. Also, they can work even when OTC products haven't.

If your acne is severe, inflamed, or leaving scars, you should skip the OTC products and start with prescription medications right away.


Use Your Treatments Correctly

Once you get your treatments home, you have to actually use them. Sorry guys, but teen boys are notorious for forgetting to use their treatments. And if you're not using them, they aren’t going to clear your skin.

We know you're busy, and using treatments is a hassle, and there are times when you just flat-out forget. However, using those treatments is important, so do whatever it takes to use them every day.

For example, you can leave them next to your toothbrush to jog your memory. You can also ask your parents to help remind you until it becomes a habit.

Not only do you have to use your treatments, but you have to use them correctly. Make sure you know exactly how to use your acne medications. That means reading all the directions (even if it seems obvious) and following the instructions your doctor gives you. Be sure to ask if you have any questions, too.

It may sound like a pain, but it is important. Once you get into the habit of using your treatments, it really isn't that bad and doesn't take too much time.


Take Care of Your Skin Every Day

Even though acne isn't caused by not washing your face, the excess oil and dirt that builds up throughout the day won't help matters. Sweat can also irritate your skin and make acne worse. That is why a good skincare routine is important.

It only takes a few minutes a day and doesn't require a ton of fancy products like some girls enjoy using. All you need is a basic face soap or cleanser, and a moisturizer if your skin is feeling dry.


Don't Put Weird Stuff On Your Face

Your best friend tells you to put toothpaste on your pimples; your grandpa says rubbing alcohol will clean and clear your skin. The internet is crawling with home remedies sworn to banish pimples.

But, truly, if it sounds weird you probably shouldn't be putting it on your face. Many of the commonly suggested remedies for acne, like cinnamon, garlic, and lemon juice, can be extremely irritating if applied to the skin. Other things, like Windex or urine, can be plain dangerous (not to mention gross).

These remedies simply aren't effective. Actual acne medications are going to give you much better results.

If you're desperate to heal a big pimple, use an acne spot treatment instead of a strange remedy.


Be Careful to Not Shave Pimples

Shaving is another matter. If you have pimples in the beard area, do your best to shave carefully. Go around them if at all possible or, at least, try to avoid shaving the tops off of your pimples.

The more you irritate your skin, the redder and more inflamed it's going to look. The skin on your face can be sensitive, so try to treat it as gently as you can. This may mean shaving less often until the inflammation goes down.


Body Acne Can Be Treated Too

The face isn't the only place that acne can pop up. You might get acne on your chest, back, shoulders, and neck. It happens and it's more common than you think.

Many of the same medications that are used on your face can also be used for other body parts. Benzoyl peroxide soaps and body washes are often used to treat body breakouts.

Your doctor might also prescribe other medications, like oral antibiotics or even ​isotretinoin. This will depend on how serious your breakouts are.


Tell Somebody If Acne Has You Down

You may not want to admit it to anyone, but acne can take a toll on your self-esteem. It can make you feel less confident, insecure, angry, and depressed. These are normal feelings.

Starting treatment and seeing some good results can really help you feel better. So can focusing on things other than your skin. While you're waiting for results, distract yourself with sports, music, art, or any other interests you have.

Yet, we know that there will be times when you just can't seem to not think about your acne. If acne is controlling more of your life than you want it to, let someone know. Tell your parents, a favorite teacher, clergy person, your doctor, or anyone you trust.

You can get through it, you can get over it, and you can feel good about your skin and yourself again.

A Word From Verywell

No matter what treatment you're using, you need to stick with it long enough for it to work. It doesn't matter if it's from your doctor or the drug store, either.

As much as you may hate to hear it, you can expect to get new pimples during this time, too. They won't stop all at once, but rather slowly start fading away.

Also, keep it up after your skin clears. Acne medications don't stop acne for good; they just keep it under control. If you stop using the medication, the acne will probably come right back. The only exception would be with the medication isotretinoin.

At some point, your acne will go away on its own and you'll finally be able to get rid of your acne treatments for good. Until then, stick with it.

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Article Sources
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