Backpack? Check. Notebooks? Check. Ink-pens? Check. Clear Skin? Mommmm!
If you are anything like three-fourths of the parents Harris Interactive for the American Counseling Association recently surveyed, you are actively involved in helping your teenager treat acne.
While getting everything in order for back to school adds enough stress, the last thing your teen may want to deal with is a pimply face. So how can you send Mr. or Miss "But I have to have it now!" off to school with no fuss and no zits?
Even though little Caitlin's initial reaction may be to bolt for the strongest acne soap she can find, this is not the way to go. As dermatologist Alanna F. Bree, MD at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, warns, "many of the zealous measures people take can make the blemishes worse."
Then again, after visiting a dermatologist to determine if acne prescriptions like tretinoin (Retin-A), antibiotics or isotretinoin are in order, it will take weeks before your teen sees a marked improvement in their skin's condition.
Next, perhaps a laser visit may zap the zits away. Yet, Jerome Garden, MD, of the department of dermatology at Northwestern University in Chicago advises, "These are highly expensive cash procedures requiring multiple visits to the office."
Dr. Spencer added, "I think light-based therapy for acne represents one more tool in the tool chest, but it's quite unreasonable for it to be the first thing that pops into your head."
Your best bet for preventative acne measures can start in your own home. Author of Acne Messages: Crack the Code of Your Zits and Say Goodbye to Acne, Naweko San-Joyz, offers three steps to help your teenager get clearer skin fast.
First, after gently cleansing the face, swipe it with a cotton-ball drenched in apple-cider vinegar to help remove excess fatty acid deposits that may provoke zits.
Second, cook a bowl of raw (not instant) oatmeal and let it cool. Mix the oatmeal with one teaspoon of honey and then apply it to the face as a mask for 15-20 minutes, then rinse it off. The mask helps dry up existing zits, exfoliate the skin and reduce overpopulation by p. acnes bacteria.
Third, San-Joyz suggests blending a smoothie of fresh carrots, celery, pineapple and a teaspoon of wheat germ. The nutrients served up in this cocktail help compensate for shortages in vitamins A, B, C and E and the mineral zinc that can sometimes trigger acne.
As the first and final stand against teenage acne, dermatologist Dr. Alan Rockoff Brookline's offers this encouragement, "Once you rule out conditions that require urgent intervention (pretty easy in dermatology), often the best thing is to relax, and wait."
For now, give your teenager the assurance that the acne can improve after de-stressing and if that fails, give you local dermatologist a ring.