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Acne 101 for moms: How to outsmart your teen's pimples for the first day of school

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Posted: Monday, August 18, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:32 am, Tue Aug 26, 2014.

(BPT) - You’ve checked off every item on the school’s supplies list, you’ve deliberated over the first-day of school outfit your child chose and made sure the fridge is stocked with healthy after-school snacks. But despite all your preparations, your son or daughter is still having last-minute jitters before the first day – and it’s not necessarily because he or she is worried about math. Like so many other kids heading back to school, your child is desperately hoping that he or she doesn’t wake up with a giant pimple on the first day.

Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting 60 million Americans at any time, including adults, teens and adolescents, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. In fact, in recent years, there has been a rise in preadolescent acne, a sign that kids are growing up much quicker than previously thought.

To help, Dr. Diane Berson, a prominent dermatologist in New York, NY, offers an Acne 101 lesson that can assist kids in avoiding an acne breakout this school year.

True or false: Acne is a rite of passage – a physical condition that eventually goes away.

False. Acne can be managed and even prevented with the use of a daily topical prescription treatment, and is not just physical. Acne can leave emotional scars such as feelings of low self-esteem, embarrassment and depression in some cases. In fact, people who have acne say they have skipped school and other public functions because they felt so self-conscious.  Acne that’s not treated properly can also result in scarring and/or skin discoloration– so no matter how “mild” you think your child’s acne is, it’s best to seek treatment to help avoid these more long-term effects.

True or false: Spot treating with over-the-counter acne treatments is the best way to go.

False. When you spot treat pimples with over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, you aren’t doing anything to help prevent future breakouts – which won’t help your child avoid pimples on the first day of school. Teens who have tried OTC treatments with little to no success should visit a doctor and ask if prescription acne treatment is right for them. Part of the goal with prescription acne treatment is to treat not only the pimples you see, but also to prevent future lesions from forming. Dr. Berson advises her patients to apply medication to all the areas (forehead, cheeks, chin and nose) that tend to break out rather than just individual lesions.

True or false: Back-to-school checkups are a great time to ask your pediatrician or general practitioner about acne.

True. While dermatologists are an excellent resource for all skincare issues, pediatricians and general practitioners are also skilled in treating acne, and back-to-school physicals are a great time to ask your children’s doctor about a skincare regimen that’s right for them. When it comes to acne, parents can ask the physician about Epiduo® (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) Gel, 0.1%/2.5%. It’s the only topical prescription acne treatment approved for children as young as 9 years old, and is proven to unclog pores and kill bacteria to treat pimples and help prevent new ones from forming. With Epiduo your kids can help avoid a big breakout on the first day of school. In fact, recent pediatric acne treatment guidelines include the use of prescription topical treatments like Epiduo.

True or false: Washing your skin aggressively doesn’t actually help improve acne.

True. Abrasive soaps and harsh skin cleaners have been proven to irritate the face, stripping away natural moisture, and making acne worse.

True or false: Popping pimples is the quickest way to get rid of them.

False. Squeezing or picking at pimples actually pushes the infection deeper into the skin, making the breakout worse. These actions can even cause scarring, so it’s best to leave them alone.

“With children experiencing skin problems earlier than ever, parents and children are often unprepared to grapple with pesky pimples, so it’s best to have conversations about acne, the right cleansing and treatment routines and overall skin health early on,” says Berson. “Parents should also schedule an appointment with a physician to find the right skin care routine for their children sooner rather than later.

By using a medically proven acne treatment like Epiduo Gel that's prescribed by a doctor, instead of spot treating and relying on OTCs, you can help clear the pimples you see and prevent new breakouts from forming,” says Berson. “As part of an overall healthy skincare regimen including a gentle cleanser and a moisturizer with SPF, Epiduo can be just the prescription teens need to stay focused on what's really important this school year.”

Important Safety Information

Indication: EPIDUO® (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) Gel, 0.1%/2.5% is indicated for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris in patients 9 years of age and older. Adverse Events: In controlled clinical studies, the most commonly reported adverse events (≥1 percent) in patients treated with EPIDUO Gel were dry skin, contact dermatitis, application site burning, application site irritation and skin irritation. Warnings/Precautions: Patients taking EPIDUO Gel should avoid exposure to sunlight and sunlamps and wear sunscreen when sun exposure cannot be avoided. Erythema, scaling, dryness, stinging/ burning, irritant and allergic contact dermatitis may occur with use of EPIDUO Gel and may necessitate discontinuation.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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