Skip to navigation menu Skip to content


Teen girl feeling worried about facial skin problem.

Acne: Affecting More Than Your Child’s Skin

By Dr. Lea Thomas, Newport News Pediatrics

Acne is a common problem for children and adults, and while some may think acne is a simple issue of vanity, it can affect your child’s well-being.

Most children don’t start getting acne until they reach puberty, which is an especially vulnerable time. Getting braces, growing hair in new places, and becoming a whole new person can be challenging. When you put acne on top of all of this, it can take a toll on your child’s mental health.

Giving your child the tools they need to fight acne can help boost their self-esteem and may even help prevent depression, anxiety, or thoughts of self-harm.

Causes of acne in a child

Generally, pores clogged with dead skin, oil, and bacteria can cause acne. Acne is also linked with:

  • Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation.
  • Rising levels of male sex hormones (androgens) in both boys and girls during puberty that cause more sebum and dead skin cells.
  • Makeup and cosmetics that can block the pores.
  • Some products used to wash the skin.
  • Wearing clothes that rub or irritate the skin.
  • Humidity and sweating.
  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids.

Helping a child live with acne

Acne can follow a child through adulthood. Treating it early can help stop the acne from becoming too severe. Help your child by:

  • Reminding them not to pick, pop, or squeeze acne as this can spread infection and cause scarring.
  • Talking with your child’s healthcare provider if over-the-counter treatments don’t work well.
  • Being aware of your child’s emotional response to the acne and getting them counseling if they seem unable to cope with the condition.
  • Bringing them to a dermatologist for severe acne that lasts a long time.
  • Making sure your child stops acne treatment slowly once acne clears.
  • Having your child treat acne a few times a week to prevent it from returning, if needed.
  • Making sure your child performs skin care regularly and gently.

Treating acne in a child

Your child’s symptoms, age, general health, and the severity of the condition will determine the best acne treatment. Whatever the treatment, the end goal is to improve the skin’s appearance and to lessen the chance of scarring.

Treatment usually includes gentle and regular skincare. However, your healthcare provider may also advise:

  • Non-prescription cleansers, creams, lotions, gels, or other products.
  • Topical or oral prescription medications.
  • Therapies or procedures, such as laser or light therapy and chemical peels.
  • Draining of a cyst or injecting it with medicine.

Call your child’s healthcare provider if:

  • Your child is upset by their acne.
  • The acne becomes worse.
  • Over-the-counter treatments aren’t working.

Like this post?

Sign up to receive our once monthly email with more kids' health tips from the region's most trusted name in pediatric health care.

About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.