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. Knowing what really causes acne (and what doesn't) will help you focus on treatments that work.

Tips for clearing acne
Verywell / Alexandra Gordon
1

Don't Believe the Myths

There are many myths about what causes acne. Yet contrary to what you may have heard, acne is not caused by the following:

  • A dirty face
  • Foods like chocolate or French fries
  • Masturbating, having sex, or the lack of either

It's tough when you're breaking out and your friends have clear skin, but it's not your fault that you have acne. 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.

2

Effective Acne Treatments Are Available

There are many acne treatment products that can clear your skin. Yet, despite advertising claims, even the most effective products won't work magic overnight. They won't cure acne, either.

It will likely take at least six to eight weeks before you start to notice a change in your skin. And a full response may take 12 weeks.

If you're patient, you will almost certainly see improvement. It just won't be as quick as some acne treatment products claim.

3

Start With OTC Acne Treatments

If your acne is mild, or if you've just started to break 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 the following active ingredients on the label.

Don't worry too much about the brand name, or what form of treatment you're using—for example, whether the product is a cleanser, medicated pad, or lotion. Instead, choose a product that fits your budget and is easy for you to use.

Once you find a product that works for you, keep using it. If you stop, your acne will come back.

4

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 healthcare provider has plenty of prescription acne treatment options that will help get your acne under control.

You don't necessarily have to see a dermatologist, either. It's likely that your family healthcare provider has helped many teenagers with acne. Your regular healthcare provider can 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. 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.

5

Use Your Treatments Correctly

Consistency is key to successful acne control: You have to use your treatments every day. We know you're busy, and there may even be times when you just flat-out forget. However, if you're not using them, they aren’t going to clear your skin.

A few tips to help you remember to take your meds daily and to ensure you're taking them the right way:

  • Leave them next to your toothbrush.
  • Ask your parents to help remind you until it becomes a habit.
  • Read all the directions, even if it seems obvious.
  • Follow the instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Be sure to ask if you have any questions.

Once you get into the habit of using your treatments, it really doesn't take too much time.

6

Take Care of Your Skin Every Day

Even though acne isn't caused by neglecting to wash 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 skin care routine is important.

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

7

Don't Put Weird Stuff On Your Face

Just like there are many myths about what causes acne, there are also a lot of misconceptions about what can be used to treat it. The internet is crawling with weird (and even gross) home remedies sworn to banish pimples, including:

  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Toothpaste
  • Urine
  • Windex

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.

8

Be Careful to Not Shave Pimples

Shaving is another matter. If you have pimples in the beard area, do your best to shave carefully. The more you irritate your skin, the redder and more inflamed it's going to look.

  • Shave around pimples, if possible.
  • Avoid shaving the tops off of your pimples.
  • Shave less often until the inflammation goes down.
9

Body Acne Can Be Treated, Too

The face isn't the only place that acne can pop up. It also commonly appears on the following areas:

  • Back
  • Chest
  • Neck
  • Shoulders

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

10

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.

There will likely 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 healthcare provider, 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.

Summary

There are a lot of myths out there about the causes and treatment of acne. Here's the truth: If you're prone to acne, help is available. By working with your primary health care provider or dermatologist, you can find an over-the-counter or prescription treatment that works for you.

It's also important to avoid home remedies and establish a simple skin care routine. No matter what treatment you're using, you need to stick with it long enough for it to work.

A Word From Verywell

As much as you may hate to hear it, you can expect to get new pimples during acne treatment. They won't stop all at once, but they'll 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.

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.

Was this page helpful?
8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Magin P. A systematic review of the evidence for 'myths and misconceptions' in acne management: diet, face-washing and sunlight. Family Practice. 2004;22(1):62-70. doi:10.1093/fampra/cmh715

  2. Kraft J, Freiman A. Management of acne. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2011;183(7):E430-E435. doi:10.1503/cmaj.090374

  3. Decker A, Graber EM. Over-the-counter acne treatments: a reviewJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(5):32-40.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. What can clear severe acne?

  5. Mukhopadhyay P. Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders. Indian J Dermatol. 2011;56(1):2-6. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.77542

  6. Totri CR, Matiz C, Krakowski AC. Kids these days: urine as a home remedy for acne vulgaris? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2015;8(10):47-8. 

  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Back acne: how to see clearer skin

  8. Hazarika N, Archana M. The psychosocial impact of acne vulgaris. Indian J Dermatol. 2016;61(5):515-520. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.190102