When sending your teen off to school in the fall, don’t forget to pack the acne treatment. Research shows that summer is a great time for patients who suffer from breakouts. Decreased stress, increased ours of natural daylight, and better sleep and exercise all contribute to clearer skin. Now as academic pressures loom, acne may flare, particularly right before and during exams.
No need to panic. Good over the counter options exist. Benzoyl peroxide wash (preferably 5% or less to avoid irritation) is a great medication to start with. Used once daily this can decrease bacteria in the skin and lead to less pimples over time. Some teens may find the product too irritating, or may even be allergic to it, with itch, redness and swelling. Most tolerate it well. Be forewarned, if not rinsed off properly, the cleanser can bleach towels, clothing and bedding. Fortunately there are now benzoyl peroxide resistant sheets perfect for dorm beds.

Another great over the counter option is Differin® Gel Until recently available only with a prescription, this nightly gel is excellent in reducing blackheads and pimples. Dryness is a common side effect and may necessitate decreasing to every other night application. Sun sensitivity is also a concern, so make sure your teen is prepared with a non-clogging sunscreen such as Elta Clear (available tinted and non-tinted).

When starting a new product for acne, start only one new topical medication every week to avoid excessive irritation. Also, allow up to 2 months for the regimen to work. A healthy lifestyle with adequate sleep, a balanced diet not high in carbohydrates, and regular skin care can improve acne, contributing to a better year away at school or at home.