Back to school time can be nerve-racking, especially for teens. While students try to put their best faces forward many are dealing with the embarrassing issue of acne.
Fourteen-year-old Connor Fleniken is walking the high school halls for the first time this year and he’s feeling very different about his confidence today compared to his junior high years. He is no longer plagued by acne.
"I felt self-conscious and insecure about them like I could tell it wasn't right and it was noticeable,” Fleniken said.
Fleniken's outbreaks started during puberty, prime-time acne years for young people.
"Probably around 5th grade, that's when it just started coming up and I just saw little things,” he said.
Over-the-counter washes and creams didn't cut it so he went in to see dermatologist Maureen Olivier.
Dr. Olivier said puberty causes oil glands to become active and produces hormones called adrenal androgens start increasing, triggering pimples.
"Hormones, when they break down, can be androgen-like and there are receptors in the oil glands that notice this and that causes this oil gland to produce more oil,” she said.
From white heads to black heads, pimples and cysts, the face of acne can vary.
Olivier said hormone imbalances, stress and family history all affect a teen's skin.
"People who have a strong family history, there's certainly a hereditary or genetic component to developing acne."
If you start to notice acne, over the counter products can help reduce bacteria count. She suggested something in the benzoyl peroxide category.
“There are also some products that have salicylic acid and that's simply just causes your skin to shed a little bit faster."
If that's not enough, prescription creams and wipes are next, followed by antibiotics or an oral skin normalizer.
"It has the ability to clear your skin completely and also induce a remission,” according to Olivier.
After visiting with Dr. Olivier, Fleniken said he is very happy to be acne-free.
"I see a lot of kids with acne at high school but knowing that's not me that just feels amazing. I love it,” he said.
Side effects of the medications can be dryness or irritation of the skin.
Doctor Olivier said it's important for parents to know acne doesn’t have to be a part of teen years. If treated early, clear skin can be a reality.