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How do they treat acne these days?

Original post made by Perfect Skin on Jun 25, 2008

My son is 12 and getting acne. Unfortunately, he has his dad's skin. His dad took accutane because his acne was so bad so I am bracing myself for an onslaught. How are they treating acne these days? We went to one derm who put him on two Rxs: Differin gel and Duac (benzoyl peroxide). Is there anything better or maybe he will have such a bad case that nothing will work...

How about Zeno (FDA approved), the $150 gadget which zaps heat into the zit to kill acne bacteria?

Or Isolaz (FDA approved), the lasering of the skin which over repeat sessions (of $500) causes sebaceous glands to shrink, thus reduced oil production and "tighter, cleaner pores".

Anyone know of any miracle cures or good cosmetic derm?

Also, what kind of sunscreen can he use that doesn't clog pores?

Thank you in advance.

Comments (20)

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 26, 2008 at 9:03 am

My daughter was told mainly to watch her diet. Excess fat of all kinds make her acne worse and when she is really careful with her diet her skin is almost clear.

Mild antibiotics help too and she was prescribed some for a time which did help, but she can't take those continually. She was put on some very strong antibiotics for another problem and her skin became perfect, but that was no reason to keep taking them.

Posted by Former Pizza Face, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2008 at 9:31 am

Controlling the diet makes sense. With all the oil in pizza, I did get pimples the next day!

Posted by sally, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 28, 2008 at 1:55 pm

As he is a boy it does not really matter as long as he turns out tall,

for girls it is a heartbreak

Posted by parent, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 3, 2008 at 8:43 pm

At age 12 and 13, it was obvious my kids got my skin- now they are 14 and 15 with skin under control. We tried almost every over the counter med, TV products, etc..some things helped for a while, but nothing consistent . My kids had very healthy diets and it was the genes they were given. Dermatologist treatment began as your sons did, with the same topical meds. After 3-4 months of little progress, it was onto antibiotics. I think for a boy or girl acne is a very difficult problem, I remember how self-conscious and embarrassed the condition left me at times. Find a good dermatologist and make earlier followup appointments if you are not satisfied with the results. One dermatologist was suggesting several months between appointments, but i would call to get appointments sooner since it was obvious the topicals alone were not working. Accutane, as you implied is a very serious med with lots of side effects. luckily my kids got their skin under control without Accutane. Just a note, my daughter stayed with the original Dermatologist, but i needed to change my son because he needed lots of follow- ups and the orignal office was too busy to accomodate him.
good luck and your child will appreciate your efforts

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 4, 2008 at 12:56 pm

My mom always reassured me that my oily skin would mean fewer wrinkles and younger looking skin when I was older. She was, indeed, right. And it did kind of help to think that there was some plus side to all of it.

Sunscreens--I've had some good luck with some of Neutrogena's--but, basically, anything that's a clear gel is a pretty good bet. So's a hat.

Posted by Mom of teens, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 8, 2008 at 11:52 am

All of the prescribed pills are so bad for a growing childs body! I agree with some of the above posts: a good diet and stay away from greasy food. Wash the face with a good topical acne cream and don't touch the face. Bad acne can be devastating for boys as well as girls. I tell my teens to look around at their peers .... they have acne too! Being awkward during your teenage years builds character, which makes you a better person later. Trying to get through puberty looking physically perfect is quite a task and it's not worth making your child antibiotic resistant or risking the issues associated with medications like accutane. Besides, generally speaking, it'll clear up within the next few years. It's just that initial onset of puberty ... acne is generally also caused by hormonal changes (our good friend Mother Nature). Good Luck!

Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 12, 2008 at 11:50 am

Mom of teens..."Being awkward during your teenage years builds character, which makes you a better person later." Hmmm...interesting way of thinking...

Posted by Mom, a resident of Duveneck School
on Jul 21, 2008 at 12:51 am

I heard that Zeno doesn't work.

Posted by Don't Fall for American Idol Crap, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 28, 2008 at 12:55 am

Why isn't there a serious education program deployed, starting in middle school, about the folly of thinking one is less-than-attractive because one has acne. It's just absurd to be medicating kids with systemic drugs like Accutane, and screwing them up with long-term doses of mild antibiotics.

Yes, the teen years are difficult, and there is a premium on appearance, BUT it doesn't have to become a race for perfection at any cost.

I think most of the parents on this thread need to do some serious soul-searching. the only kind of acne that requires intervention of the kind that most are aiming for here is serious, scarring acne. How many kids have that.

This is supposed to be an intelligent community. WHy does anyone let a kid take months long doses of antibiotics for ANYTHING that isn't a serious pathology. Sheesh!!!!

Posted by Pretty Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 28, 2008 at 9:53 am

Don't Fall,

I think most kids are not dosed up on medication. But the reason why you may think that most kids do not have severe acne could be because those kids are controlling the acne.

People can shout that what is important is inner beauty, but reality is that it is human nature to judge a book by its cover. I am pretty and when I don't wear makeup and wear sweats, I blend in. But if I dress nicely and look good, I feel confident and people are friendlier, I get great customer service, people bend rules for me, men notice me, and I receive compliments. Basically, life is more fun. You may call it shallow thinking, but I know I am intelligent and can talk current events, etc. as any geek can.

Another example: what if a person is born looking like a stereotypical ex-con? Doesn't matter what he wears, he will not be treated as well in life as a handsome man. People DO judge by appearance. Would you rather take the seat in the bus next to an attractive person or next to an unkept person with acne all over the face?

Posted by Don't Fall for American Idol Crap, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 28, 2008 at 10:31 am

"Would you rather take the seat in the bus next to an attractive person or next to an unkept person with acne all over the face?"

Yes, human beings do have preferences, but to not make our children aware of the vagaries of social interaction around things like attractiveness, and to continue to buy in to medicating children for something that is perfectly normal - to satisfy a socially constructed idea of beauty - is the height of irresponsibility.

Why should someone with incidental acne take it as gospel that they're unattractive? Why aren't kids taught - literally taught, through experiential exercises and curriculum - some of the social cognitive distortions that lead to so much social pain.

We're never going to rid the human species of preference re: social attraction, but we have a long way to go in waking kids up to the damage that is done in the name of "being beautiful".

Posted by Pretty Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 28, 2008 at 10:45 am

Don't Fall,

Why are you assuming that every parent is telling their kid that zits make them ugly? Why are you assuming that every child is on drugs for acne and that parents are telling them that they have to be beautiful? You are making huge assumptions.

Personality can go a long way. People with great personalities are more attractive. Add that to a nice exterior appearance, and all the better. It's all about being the best you can be. Many Palo Altans could use makeovers to be the best they can be.

Posted by Don't Fall for American Idol Crap, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 28, 2008 at 1:20 pm

"Many Palo Altans could use makeovers to be the best they can be."

Yeah, and a few could stand to go more natural.

About my assumptions: You should sit next to a dermatologist at PAMC for a few days, and watch how most dermatologists are habituated to prescribing acne medications to anyone that asks. We have an empidemic of antibiotic prescriptions for mild acne. Why do you think the acne drugs are so huge?

Posted by Pretty Palo Altan, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 29, 2008 at 12:01 am

I have seen many derms at PAMC and was NOT impressed and downright frustrated with the lack of knowledge. I highly recommend seeing Stanford derms instead. I saw one today who even told me that physical blocker sunscreens are superior to chemical sunscreens. Most derms say that both are equal. He recommended Blue Lizard sunscreen from Australia for acne-prone, sensitive skin, normal skin. Australian sunscreens are more well-regulated and superior. Can be purchased online.

Posted by laserlady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm

[Post removed due to promoting a website]

Posted by curious mom, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 25, 2009 at 2:46 pm

As a momo f a 12 year old who is just starting to get a few pimples here and there (but may have inherited her dad's skin) I am curious to know from parents of older teens whether they ever tried that ProActiv stuff? And if so whether it works.

Posted by laser94025, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 25, 2009 at 3:36 pm

ProActiv not particularly new. Works for some then it doesn't.
Other modalities available, blue light with photopneumatics aka PPx.

Posted by curious mom, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 25, 2009 at 6:44 pm


Posted by Sun and Sand, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 26, 2009 at 2:47 pm

A few things:

It's cultural pressure that has lead to the concern about acne. This is just one more fact of life in a culture that is so infused with media, and advertising, that we have lost touch with the long term effects of same.

Has anyone taken the time to think about what impacts the administration os systemic drugs (like Accutane) or the low-level delivery of antibiotics for months might have on a developing body (including the brain)? There is already evidence that makes Accutane suspect as a precursor to serious clinical depression in certain individuals. We all know that long-term, low-level exposure to antibiotics can strengthen pathogens that evolve to adapt to low level antibiotic treatment. So why do we continue to put our kids at risk?

last: it turns out that there have been some recent studies relating cortisol excretion and stress Web Link
where there seems a clear indication and connection between certain dermatological events stress. I have read other studies that talk about high cortisol levels in children due to increased environmental stress, and even the depletion of cortisol in kids whose primary caregivers are depressed (and we all know that stress can be a primary precursor to depression).

In sum, I think we need to step back and look at primary causative agents for skin problems in kids, and start sending the message that drug treatment should only be proscribed for the most severe, deforming types of acne. We also need to pay more attention - assuming we have any left after the media has sucked it all out of us.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Diet is a big factor in my experience. I have seen improvement in skin when lots of fruits and vegetables are eaten, plain water drunk, and no fatty, sugary processed foods are consumed. Healthy diets usually make healthy skin in a large percentage of cases, but it takes a few weeks of cutting out the bad stuff before a difference can be seen.

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