Treating Teen Acne In Boys

10 Things Teen Guys Must Know to Clear Their Skin

Most teen boys get acne. It's a normal part of being a teenager... but it kind of sucks.

If you're willing to put in a little bit of time smearing some stuff on your face, and a little bit of patience waiting for it to work, you can get your acne under control.


Portrait of a Male Teenager Cleaning his Acne
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Would you be surprised to learn that acne isn't 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 thereof.

Some people are just prone to acne, and these factors are out of your control. 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.



The good news is there are lots of acne treatment products on the market today that actually can clear the skin.

But even the most effective acne treatments aren't going to clear the skin overnight. They won't cure acne either, contrary to what the TV commercial says.

If you're looking for a good OTC acne treatment, the most effective will contain benzoyl peroxide. Look for that ingredient.

It will take at least a few weeks before you start to really notice a change in your skin. If you're patient, you will see improvement (just not as quickly as some products claim).



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

You don't necessarily have to see a dermatologist. Your family doctor has probably helped lots of teenagers treat acne. You can see your regular doc first (they'll refer you to a dermatologist if needed.)

Prescription medications are obviously stronger and usually work faster than over-the-counter treatments. And they work when OTC treatments haven't.


Don't Skip Your Treatments

Once you get your treatments home, you actually have to 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.

I know you're busy, and using treatments is a hassle, and sometimes you just flat-out forget. Using those treatments is important, though, so try to do whatever it takes to use them every day.

That might mean leaving them next to your toothbrush to jog your memory, or asking your parents to help remind you. Whatever it takes, just try not to skip your treatments.


Not only do you have to remember to use your treatments, but you also have to use them correctly. I know, it sounds like a pain.

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

Make sure you know exactly how to use your acne medications. That means reading all directions (even if it seems obvious) and following the instructions your doctor gives you (ask if you have questions).



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

It only takes a few minutes and you don't need a ton of fancy products. Just a basic face soap or cleanser and a moisturizer (if your skin is feeling dry) it's all you need.



Shaving is another matter. If you have pimples in the beard area, 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 more red and inflamed it's going to look. The skin on the face can be sensitive, so try to treat it gently. This may mean shaving less often, at least until your acne isn't so inflamed



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; it's common.

Many of the same medications that are used for the face are also used for the body. 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 (Accutane), depending on how serious the breakouts are.


Stick With It

No matter what treatment you're using, whether it's something you got from your doctor or the drugstore, you need to stick with it long enough for it to work.

It takes a long time for a treatment to work. Stick with your medication for at least 8-10 weeks before deciding if it's working or not. Don't jump from treatment to treatment.

And expect to get new pimples during this time, too. They won't stop all at once, but rather slowly start fading away.

Don't stop once your skin clears, either. Acne medications don't stop acne for good; they just keep it under control. So if you stop using the medication, acne will probably come right back (the exception here would be isotretinoin/Accutane).

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.


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 with treatment and seeing some good results can help you immediately feel better. So can focusing on things other than your skin (sports, music, art, or any other interests you have).

But sometimes 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 or clergy person, your doctor, anyone you trust.

Acne is a normal part of being a teenager. You can get through it, you can get over it, and you can feel good about your skin and yourself again.


Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, Alikhan A, Baldwin HE, et. al. "Guidelines of Care for the Management of Acne Vulgaris." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2016; 74(5):945-73.


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