My teenage son has had ter­ri­ble acne which has left vis­i­ble scars on his face. I’m dev­as­tated for him. Is there any­thing I can do to help him?

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - KIDS’ HEALTH SPECIAL -

Acne oc­curs in over 90pc of peo­ple at some stage of their lives — for most this is dur­ing ado­les­cence. Hor­mones do play a role. Those with con­di­tions as­so­ci­ated with high male hor­mone lev­els, such as poly­cys­tic ovar­ian syn­drome have a higher in­ci­dence of acne. Women of­ten no­tice a flare be­fore their pe­ri­ods. It can run in fam­i­lies es­pe­cially in male rel­a­tives. Stress can make acne worse. It is not a con­di­tion of poor hygiene. A diet high in un­re­fined starches and sugar can make acne worse.

The scars left be­hind by acne can have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on a per­son’s self-con­fi­dence. Scar­ring is com­mon — oc­cur­ring in up to 30pc of those with sig­nif­i­cant acne. The best ap­proach to scar­ring is to avoid it in the first place which is why treat­ing acne early is ex­tremely im­por­tant. Teenagers should not be left to sim­ply grow out of it. The treat­ment of acne re­quires clear­ing the hair fol­li­cles, re­duc­ing in­flam­ma­tion and treat­ing in­fec­tion. Many creams and lo­tions are avail­able. They cause an ir­ri­tant ef­fect to the skin that dries out the up­per lay­ers re­duc­ing the chance of ker­atin plug­ging and in­flam­ma­tion. An­tibi­otics are ef­fec­tive for 70pc of peo­ple but may take sev­eral weeks to work. For those with se­vere un­re­spon­sive acne, treat­ment with Roac­cu­tane works and can per­ma­nently cure acne in up to 90pc peo­ple.

If scar­ring oc­curs de­spite acne treat­ment then I would sug­gest con­sult­ing with a der­ma­tol­o­gist or plas­tic sur­geon about this. There are a num­ber of laser or sur­gi­cal treat­ments along with var­i­ous peels and fillers that can im­prove the skin. Treat­ment is im­prov­ing all the time so do seek ad­vice.

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