A Dermatologist’s Guide to Help Prevent Child Acne

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Adolescence is tough enough without having to worry about pimples. To learn how to help children prevent and cope with acne, we spoke with Dr. Gervaise Gerstner, a board-certified New York dermatologist who also happens to be a mom.

1. Prevent acne before it starts.

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“Don’t wait until they have pimples. You want to introduce something at an early age so you can prevent the acne. I would also really get them on a cleansing regimen early. Get into a routine. Cleansing should be done at night. In the morning kids are so busy getting out the door, and skin is also clean from sleeping on the pillow. Wash at night.”
– Dr. Gervaise Gerstner

2. Introduce an acne wash.

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“Start introducing an acne wash at a very early age. I have my 10 year-old on an acne wash a couple times a week. You want to introduce something at an early age so you can prevent the acne. Look for a cleanser with salicylic acid. It’s a great ingredient for acne prone skin. Benzoyl peroxide is also good, but it can be too drying for a first time regimen for acne. It’s a balancing act; I want the skin to not break out, but I don’t want to dry it out too much.”
– Dr. Gervaise Gerstner

3. Make an appointment with a dermatologist.

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“Get them to see a dermatologist early, just to get them plugged in and on a good regimen, not so they become a slave and have to see the doctor all the time, but just to get them on a good regimen.”
– Dr. Gervaise Gerstner

4. Go organic.

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“Hormones in foods can cause acne. Try to buy organic milk, dairy, meat. You don’t have to go crazy and buy everything organic, but in terms of the meat and the dairy and the eggs, I would go organic.”
– Dr. Gervaise Gerstner

5. Teach your child how to prevent scarring.

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“The number one and two things you can have them do to prevent acne scarring: Make sure they don’t pick on a pimple, squeeze a pimple, or get a sunburn on a pimple.”
– Dr. Gervaise Gerstner

6. Use sun protection.

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“Sun does not help acne. It’s not going to dry the acne out. It can scar it, and it can cause post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. My two take-home messages for parents to tell their kids: Don’t squeeze a pimple and don’t get sun on it.”
– Dr. Gervaise Gerstner