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Pediatric and Adolescent Acne

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Summary

Acne occurs when a hair follicle (pore) becomes clogged with oil, bacteria or dirt, and creates a bulge in a child’s skin.

Expanded overview

The body has sebaceous glands that produce oil to keep the skin from drying out. Acne occurs when the glands create too much oil and clog the hair follicles (spots on the skin where hair grows out). Follicles are also commonly called pores. Once clogged, bacteria can grow, which creates a bulge in a child’s skin. Bacteria and dirt can also clog the pores.

Acne usually develops on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders, as this is where the largest number of oil glands are located. It’s one of the most common skin conditions.

Causes

While the cause is still unknown, acne has been associated with the following:

  • Hormones – changes in the baby’s skin as he/she passes the mother’s hormones during puberty (between 10 and 14 years old for girls and between 12 and 16 years old for boys), menstrual cycles and pregnancy
  • Makeup or other skincare products – can clog the pores, especially if left on for extended periods of time
  • Sweat and humidity – causes a specific type of yeast acne
  • Irritants – anything rubbing against skin, like clothing
  • Medicine – some medicines, like corticosteroids, can cause acne
  • Stress - can lead the skin to produce more oil causing breakouts

Symptoms

Infants

Acne can develop in infants (birth to 1 year) as early as 6 weeks old and can last for 6 to 12 months. It’s also more common in boys.

Adolescents

Acne can also develop during puberty and last throughout the adult years.

Symptoms for infants and adolescents may include:

  • Blackhead (small, black bump)
  • Whitehead (small, white bump)
  • Cyst (solid, raised bump with pus)
  • Dark skin patches
  • Nodule (solid, raised bump with no pus)
  • Papule (clogged deeper into the skin, hair follicle wall is irritated)
  • Pustule (inflamed hair follicles)
  • Scarring

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