Patient: My younger brother is ten years old and has really bad acne. He has gone as far as using ProActiv but it seems that nothing works. I am worried that this acne problem will just get worse as he ages. Is there anything we can do to remedy the situation?
Doctor: Acne can be a distressing condition especially when one is approaching puberty. The active ingredients in ProActiv are b enzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid. Benzoyl peroxide minimizes bacterial growth in acne and is also an exfoliant (peels dead skin). However, there is a ~1% chance of developing allergic reactions to Benzoyl peroxide. Glycolic acid is also an exfoliant and unclogs pores; this also helps in acne. You may try over-the-counter regimens which contains Adapalene; this is also effective against acne, reduces inflammation and has fewer side effects. In some cases, topical (creams, solutions, lotions) antibiotics which usually contains Erythromycin or Clindamycin can be effective against Propionobacterium acnes, the bacteria that commonly causes acne. Last resort treatments are oral antibiotics, which needs a doctor’s prescription. I strongly suggest that your brother should see either a paediatrician or dermatologist. ProActiv may not be the right fit for him, and who knows, it may be doing more harm than good since Benzoyl peroxide can cause allergic reactions. There are varied skin types and dermatologists know which one is best to use for a certain skin type. Early treatment of acne is important as this will prevent scarring; severe scarring especially on the face due to acne can have an impact on one’s self esteem. There are also serious conditions (e.g. hormonal problems or tumors) which present w/ acne. In my opinion, it is unusual that a 10-year old has bad acne so seeing a doctor as soon as possible will be a good idea. I do hope I have helped you in some way. Regards to your brother and take care.