Teen With Acne


Ask Rene:
What Can I Do About My Son’s Terrible Acne?


Dear Rene,

My son Keith has bad acne – and it’s really getting him down.

Keith is 15 years old and started getting spotty about 6 months ago. He now has bad acne over much of his face and neck and is really depressed. Kids at school tease him and he’s becoming withdrawn and moody. He thinks he’ll never get a girlfriend. Most worryingly his grades have also dropped.

We’ve tried face washes, scrubs and spot creams – but nothing is really working yet. I’m also worried that Keith is going to end up with acne scars for the rest of his life.

Did you ever have spots or acne Rene – and how did you handle them? And what about all the other GEMs out there? Have your kids had similar problems – and what did you do?


Tracey, Minnesota


Hi Tracey:

Glad you wrote. It’s like one of nature’s cruel jokes, isn’t it? As a teenager, first you grow like a daffodil on a spring day and just as you’re learning how to handle these arms and legs with their added inches, your face gets in on the act. Angry red bumps, the occasional blackhead and if you’re really (un)lucky, cystic acne that can leave pits and pock marks. Ugh. I know the feeling because I’ve been there before and am now going through it with my own kids. I have seen a dermatologist for more than 25 years now (not the same one but I always made sure I had one in whatever city I was working in) because people with darker skin tend to scar more easily. I also suffered from cystic acne, which would leave huge, painful bumps mostly on my chin and forehead NOT a good look for someone on TV. I have taken Retin A for more than 20 years and at one point had tried antibiotics and Accutane. So I have a soft spot in my heart for Keith and his plight. I took your question to my own dermatologist, Dr. Robyn Gmyrek and here’s what she suggested:


1. Start With A Clean Face

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Dr. Gmyreck said it’s important to cleanse the skin day and night and then moisturize with a light moisturizer. A lot of times people skip the last step because they think they will make their acne worse by using a moisturizer. Not so, according to Dr. Gmyreck if you choose a nice, light one.