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If you’re a teen, chances are pretty good that you have some acne. Almost 8 in 10 teens have acne, along with many adults. Acne is so common that it’s considered a normal part of puberty. Acne is a condition of the skin that shows up as different types of bumps. These bumps can be blackheads, pimples or cysts.

Teens get acne because of the hormonal changes that come with puberty. If your parents had acne as a teen, it’s more likely that you will, too. A type of acne that a lot of teens get is called Acne vulgaris. It usually shows up on the face, neck, shoulders, upper back and chest. If a pore gets clogged up and closes but bulges out from the skin, you’re left with a whitehead. If a pore gets clogged up but stays open, the top surface can darken and you’re left with a blackhead.

Red bumps called pimples, have pus filled bacteria that make their way under the skin. Clogged pores that open up very deep in the skin can cause nodules, which are infected lumps or cysts that are bigger than pimples can be painful. Large cysts that seem like acne may be boils caused by a staph infection.

To help prevent the oil buildup that can contribute to acne, wash your face twice a day with a mild soap and warm water.

DON’T scrub your face hard with a washcloth-acne can’t be scrubbed away, and scrubbing may actually make it worse by irritating the skin and pores. If you wear makeup or sunscreen, make sure it’s labeled “OIL FREE.” This means it won’t clog your pores and contribute to acne.

Make sure you remove all of your makeup so it doesn’t clog your pores. If you have a job that puts you in contact with oil – like a fast-food restaurant or gas station – be sure to wash you face well when you get home. It can help to wash your face after you’ve been exercising.

Some teens may need treatment from a doctor or dermatologist. If you look in a mirror and see a pimple, don’t touch it, squeeze it, or pick at it. Most important, picking at pimples can leave tiny, permanent scars on your face.

©2007 St. James Catholic Church, Hopewell, VA