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How to Have a Pimple-Free Prom

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MADISON - It's every teen's worst pre-prom fear: a dreaded pimple on the forehead, nose, cheek, or chin.

So, what's a teenager to do when the clock is ticking before that first dance under the crystal ball?

Joyce Teng, MD, a UW Health dermatologist, says the best answer might be what she calls "camouflage."

"There are over-the-counter products with a blue/greenish tinge that will neutralize the color, mesh with the skin color, and hide the pimple," she says. "Many companies make it, and it can be found in drug stores and cosmetic counters."

Yet, these products can be expensive, and will not do the trick if there are a lot of blemishes. Teng says teens have a better chance for a pimple-free prom if they simply chill out several days or weeks beforehand, eat a proper diet and get plenty of rest.
Key Advice: Stop Stressing

"Stress is a huge factor," says Teng. "Acne can be controlled if teens relax, eat well, get plenty of sleep and don't get stressed out."

Dr. Teng has other advice for teens who want to reduce pimples:
  • Don't use oil-based hair gels or dressings which can plug pores and produce pimples. Use glycerin-based hair products instead. 
  • Young athletes whose sports require protective headwear should cleanse their skin regularly. Padding and straps from helmets produce sweat and bacteria that may cause outbreaks of acne along the chin and forehead. 
  • Teenage girls should go light on the cosmetics. Look for "non-comedogenic" makeup which does not have ingredients known to plug pores and cause acne. Thoroughly remove makeup when it is not needed.
  • Teens should avoid anabolic steroids, which may cause acne and other severe medical problems. 
  • Acne has also been connected to medications such as prednisone and lithium for the treatment of some forms of psychoactive illness. Teens should see their doctors about altering their medications if acne begins to worsen.
Causes of Acne
Acne is caused by excessive amounts of androgen, a type of hormone. The androgen increases oils in the skin and plugs pores, resulting in an outbreak of pimples. Up to 85 percent of people between ages 11-30 usually have some form of acne.
Teng says the type of treatment depends on the type of acne involved. Some require topical treatments applied to the skin that may bring results within 10-12 weeks.
?Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are the two main over-the-counter topical products on the market,? says Teng.
For more serious cases, doctors can prescribe antibiotics in combination with topical treatments, and it could take six to eight weeks for severe outbreaks to subside.
Teng also has patients use a gentle cleansing agent to minimize the irritation and dryness that may result from acne treatments.
In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration has approved blue light, intense pulsed light therapy to treat acne, but these lights are not the same as in tanning beds, which have been linked to skin cancer.
"The majority of emitting light is in the range of visible light, so the treatment does not carry any risk of skin cancer," says Teng.
Overall, Teng says teens can control acne, but they have to work at it.
"Acne has a huge psychological, social impact on teens," she says. "Preventing it really takes a lot of perseverance and hard work."

Date Published: 04/28/2009

News tag(s):  joyce tengdermatology

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