Acne Treatments/prevention for Tween

Updated on May 28, 2014
A.L. asks from Rome, GA
15 answers

Hi folks,
It's that time of life... our tween son (12 years old) looks like he is getting his first bout of acne--small clusters of pimples on his nose and forehead, near the hairline. What over-the-counter remedies have you found to be most helpful for shrinking/shortening those outbreaks? Something which isn't harsh chemical/drying would be ideal because he already tends towards dry skin (based on his hair, which gets dandruffy often). Thanks so much, oh sources of experience and wisdom...

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the suggestions! This is probably the least of the upcoming challenges, however I thought I'd start gathering some ideas for it.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Gosh, it's been a long time since we've had teenagers. My sister sold Mellaluca and she got their acne skin treatment stuff for her daughter when she had her first break out. It stopped it cold and when she used it she didn't have any more.

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answers from Washington DC on

We have a family history of bad acne. As soon as my son started breaking out we had him on Proactive and then we added doxy and retin-a. The main thing is convincing boys the importance of hygene. I have to stay on my now almost 15yo son to wash his face at least twice a day. I also buy him oil free acne face wipes to carry in his backpack to school for after PE/Sports, sports bags, and even in the car or my purse.

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answers from Washington DC on

my younger son had the standard bouts of acne, and cleaning and clearasil didn't do much. proactiv helped a LOT, but it does dry the skin for sure.
it was worth it for him. if the OTC stuff doesn't work, give it a shot.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

My acne was horrendous when I was a tween. Luckily my 12 year doesn't have it as bad. His forehead is breaking out near his hairline.

I picked up witch hazel at the store. It's a astringent. When he remembers to use it, I think it works for him.

Here are some other helpful suggestions for acne from an integrative doctor up in NYC.

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answers from Dallas on

Next time you are at his doc, discuss it with them. We did the Epiduo with good success.

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answers from San Francisco on

My daughter is 11, and started to have some breakouts. I asked her pedi if we should see a dermatologist, and she recommended getting a Clairsonic and the Murad acne wash. We did that, and her face cleared right up. The Clairsonic is great - it gets her face *really* clean in 1 minute, and the Murad has salicylic acid, so it helps clear up breakouts and prevent new ones. Her skin is quite dry everywhere else, but these products have not irritated her skin at all. She also uses the Murad acne gel from time to time, and their matte moisturizer with sunscreen.

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answers from Chattanooga on

Drinking LOTS of water helps. Make sure he uses a moisturizer on his face as well... (There are plenty that won't clog his pores.) dry skin= micro-fissures= cracks for bacteria to get into the skin= acne.

My brother had horrible acne growing up, and Noxema seemed to help. (Not the face wash, just a layer of Noxema, gently scrub face, rinse.)

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answers from Dallas on

When my daughter was about 11, I took her to the dermatologist as a proactive measure so the Dr could check her skin.

Fortunately, myself and daughter rarely have an issue but we do have a thorough routine twice daily with facial cleansing. I don't have boys so I can't answer to them specifically.

Our Dr. recommends the Clinique products. I have used Clinique since I was about 11 myself and I love this product. When daughter has an issue, she uses the Clinique acne wash and it clears right up. Clinique makes products for men as well.

As for drugstore brands, our Dr. recommends Purpose Soap and Cetaphil for face washes. You want to keep it as mild as possible and not use harsh products unless you really have a serious acne issue.

Also watch his diet. That also can have an effect on acne.

Good luck.

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answers from Philadelphia on

You could start with any over the counter formula as long as the active ingredient is salicylic acid. If this does not work I really encourage you to take your son to a dermatologist. There is no reason for people to suffer with acne any more. Also, you want to get it under control as soon as possible because once it gets bad it becomes harder to treat.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Purpose Face Wash.
Simple facial wipes.

My son is 11. It's a LOT easier. For him to use a cleansing cloth before bed than to wash his face at the sink. ; )

(You don't want to start out with something harsh. Start really gentle.
No "scrubs" etc.
Just a really gentle cleanse like those above.)


answers from Norfolk on

When our son starts breaking out, I have him rub a paste of baking soda and water on his face then rinse it off.
The baking soda is a very fine abrasive and it helps to exfoliate his skin and open up his pores so the oil doesn't back up and form zits.
Every other day or every few days is enough else it's too drying.
In between baking soda washes he uses soap and water.
It seems to clear him up just fine.
He gets dandruff too and again it's due to rapid shedding of dead skin cells and lots of oil.
He uses a dandruff shampoo which helps him wash the flakes away.
A dissolved uncoated aspirin in the bit of shampoo he uses to wash his hair with works really well.
I've never heard that it was hard on your kidneys (aspirin is salicylic acid) - artificial sweeteners I know are awful for kidneys and Tylenol is hard on your liver but we use aspirin a lot internally and externally with no ill effects.


answers from Jacksonville on

I didn't know about this product when my son first started having a bit of acne, and I have just bought him the noxema facial wipes. He uses them a couple of times a day. I am not sure if they help or not. He still has acne, but it doesn't usually appear red or irritated, so I guess it's better than doing nothing... ?

But, I wanted to share something and you can try it or not. My son is a wrestler and I just heard (from a former wrestler when I was chatting with the customer service guy at my cell phone company) about a soap called Defense. He recommended it for my son to help with the inevitable ringworm that wrestlers seem to pass around. I ordered some last night, and while I was looking at the product reviews online, several mentioned that they (the parents who were buying it for their sports involved kiddo) had tried it themselves. Several reported major improvements in other skin conditions (eczema and acne both were mentioned).

So, not sure if you want to give it a try or not. I just ordered, so we haven't had a chance to try it out ourselves, but I am interested to see if it helps with son's acne as well. The active ingredients are tea tree oil and eucalyptus. There is no triclosan or sodium lauryl sulfate in it, either. No petrochemicals at all.

I would not have heard of it except I happened to get a customer service rep who was a former wrestler at the college level when I was getting a phone for my wrestler son added to our plan. I mentioned (while waiting for a computer to do something) the reason it was time for him to have a phone (late wrestling practice/matches) and we ended up chatting about it for awhile. He swore by Defense... so we'll see.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Make sure he isn't skipping the basics. To start, I would make sure that he is washing his face twice a day with a gentle cleanser like cetaphil. Sometimes tweens would rather slap on some cream than wash their face a few times a day (not sure why). But to keep skin healthy, it is better to use the cleanser than something harsh like oxy. Only if he's washing well and that isn't working should you move to creams/medicines.



answers from Boise on

I think Salicylic acid is very hard on the kidneys. I would avoid it. I would do something natural before I went full guns.

The skin is very porous and what goes on it goes inside you too. That is why pain patches on the skin are successful in cancer treatment. So how about Bentadine is iodine. You can find it at walmart. It kills all scope of germs, (they use it in surgery so its all all spectrum fungal and germ killer) plus it will soak into the skin and feed the thyroid it's much needed iodine.

On another note, really bad acne can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, and if basic over the counter remedies don't work, I would consider any other symptoms and treat the whole body instead of just the skin. The skin is a detox organ, so a detox of organic fruit and veggies (including coffee enemas) can be quite helpful.

Be leary of some of the prescriptions for acne and do your homework. Some of them reduce testosterone, mess with serotonin, and can cause <serious> side effects, some permanent.



answers from Washington DC on

We had no success at all with salicylic acid products; they did nothing for my kid. There is a mail-order only product, a face wash called X-Out, that does seem to work well for my daughter (it's made by the same company that produces the Proactive acne med system for adults but X-Out is aimed at teens). The key is that the user has to wash his or her face with it twice a day for two minutes each time -- my daughter often wants to cut corners on the time she washes and the product does work best if she actually does two full minutes, twice a day. The good part is that the medicine is IN the face wash, and you "wash it in," so there are no other creams or ointments to put on after the wash is done; that's it.

It's not cheap but it does work for my kid. Everyone's different so you might want to try OTC products with benzoyl peroxide, the other main acne fighter ingredient, if salicylic acid doesn't work for your son. Both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be drying and can make skin more sensitive, but frankly they or X-Out would work better than home remedies. I would not use any kind of exfoliant, even a natural one like baking soda -- our dermatologist says never, ever use exfoliants as they tear off the heads of pimples which the doctor says can cause scarring!

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