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Pimples - Serious Acne Treatments

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My 15-year-old has serious acne over much of his face and some on his back. He's tried several over-the-counter products, but the pimples are still there, or maybe they would be much worse without the products? I'm hoping he'll grow out of this pimple phase soon. When might that be?


Concerned Mom

Dear Concerned Mom,

Most teenagers get some acne, but often adults can too, anywhere up to age 50. Your son's acne may clear in a few years, but if the acne is serious then it's best to see a dermatologist. If treatment isn't started now, then your son may develop permanent scars from the acne.

The two main types of treatments are topical and oral. A topical gel that works well is Differin, but your dermatologist may recommend other topicals or treatment.

The American Academy of Dermatology (, lists these possible acne treatments:

1. Prescription topical creams, gels, or lotions with vitamin A acid-like drugs, benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics to help unblock the pores and reduce bacteria.

2. Acne surgery to remove blackheads and whiteheads.

3. Microdermabrasion may be used to remove the upper layers of the skin to generate new skin.

4. Light chemical peels help unblock the pores and stimulate new skin growth.

5. Injections of corticosteroids for treating large red bumps to help them go away quickly.

6. Oral antibiotics can be prescribed such as tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, or erythromycin.

7. Birth control pills may significantly improve acne.

8. In cases of unresponsive or severe acne, isotretinoin may be used. Pregnant women cannot take this medication because it can cause birth defects.

9. Women may use female hormones.

10. Photodynamic therapy.

To learn more about acne and acne treatments go to