Teenage Acne: How To Treat It Naturally And Effectively

Medically reviewed by Dr. Aanand Geria, MD Dr. Aanand Geria Dr. Aanand GeriaMD insta_icon
Written by , MA (English Literature) Ramona Sinha MA (English Literature) Experience: 11 years

Just stepped into your teens? If yes, guess who’s knocking at the door? Acne!

You can’t stay in a state of denial for long. It’s a fact that puberty and acne go hand in hand. It’s so common that acne is considered a normal part of your “officially adult” years now. But then, knowing this isn’t going to make those red bumps on your face vanish. Nor is whining about them while staring at your face in the mirror going to work. So, what’s the solution? That’s what I am going to discuss here in this article. Let’s dig in.

Table Of Contents

What Causes Teenage Acne?

Let me make it clear – every teenager gets acne. Some get just one or two, and some get a face full of these outbreaks. This happens because when you hit puberty, there’s an excess of a hormone called androgen in your body. This hormone makes your oil glands active, causing excess oil (or sebum) production. It also triggers the growth of the Propionibacterium acnes bacteria. Too much sebum on your skin blocks the hair follicles or the pores, and the infected pores turn into acne.

You may get:

  • A whitehead (when the pore is clogged and bulges out)
  • A blackhead (when the pore is clogged, but exposure to air makes the top blackish)
  • A pustule or a pimple (a blocked red and inflamed pore with pus)
  • Cysts (large, red, and painful bumps that go deep in the skin)

Whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples are types of inflammation that are relatively easy to treat. Cysts are the form of acne you should be worried about.

Fret not. Here is what you can do to clear acne and prevent further breakouts.

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How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne

Follow these skin care and lifestyle tips to fight teenage acne:

1. Clean Your Face Twice A Day

I know you have heard this many times, but irrespective of the status of your acne breakouts, clean your face twice a day religiously. It helps in removing the excess oil, dead skin cells, and other impurities from your face. Remember, if you wash your face more than twice a day, it will only rob your skin of the natural oils and make it dry. Using body soap on the face is a strict no-no. Use a gentle face wash and lukewarm water for washing your face.

2. Use A Toner

Be it fighting breakouts or controlling the oil production of your skin, a toner comes extremely handy. It cleans your skin after you have washed it. A toner erases the remaining traces of impurities as well as the residue of your cleanser or face wash. It wipes all dirt and impurities away, unclogging the pores and preventing acne breakouts.

3. Don’t Forget The Serum

Don’t Forget The Serum - How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne
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Most of you might wonder about what a serum actually does. And that’s why you often avoid using it altogether. Serums contain active agents that penetrate your skin and keep it acne-free and clear. A little bit goes a long way. After toning, once the skin and pores are clear, apply a serum and blend gently. Do not rub. Apply with gentle yet firm strokes.

4. Nourish With A Moisturizer

Acne products often make the skin dry, which is why moisturizing your skin is important. A good quality moisturizer minimizes the dryness and prevents skin peeling. When buying a moisturizer, always opt for the non-comedogenic ones. Non-comedogenic products are specially prepared for dry, oily, and combination skin, and they don’t block your pores.

5. Exfoliate Your Skin

Exfoliate Your Skin - How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne
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Scrubbing is something that you should avoid if you have acne. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exfoliate your skin. Exfoliation clears all the dead skin cells from your skin and makes it smooth. But you need to be careful. Avoid using a granular scrub as it might irritate your skin. You might use chemical exfoliants. And make sure you exfoliate only once or twice a week.

6. Sunscreen Is A Must

If you thought that sunscreen causes breakouts, you are wrong. If you are using acne medication, you need sun protection to avoid discoloration. Even if it’s not a sunny day, don’t walk out without applying sunscreen. The clouds can’t stop the UV rays from damaging your skin, especially if you have acne.

7. Spot Treatment Is Required

Spot Treatment Is Required - How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne
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Acne often leaves ugly spots behind. And it’s important to treat these spots. Although you can talk to your dermatologist and use over-the-counter products for spot reduction, you can also try other natural methods. Tea tree oil is known for treating both acne and acne spots. In case you are buying products containing it, make sure they contain at least 10% tea tree oil. Otherwise, it’s of no use.

8. Avoid Squeezing And Touching The Acne

I know it’s tempting, but don’t do it. It not only spreads the infection but also further irritates your already inflamed skin. Popping acne and pimples also causes scarring and infection.

9. Stay Hydrated

Stay Hydrated - How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne
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When your body is dehydrated, it makes your skin dry and prone to irritation. This can trigger acne or make it worse. Your body is 70% water. And this water mainly serves two purposes in your body – first, it carries nutrients to all your cells, and second, it flushes out all toxins from your body. Lack of water will slow down the elimination of toxins from your body and skin. This increases the likelihood of acne.

10. Say Goodbye To Acne With Vitamins And Minerals

Vitamin A, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce acne inflammation. Vitamin A is said to control acne outbreaks when applied topically. This is because most of the medications containing vitamin A alter it into retinoid after topical application, which promotes quick healing. Zinc helps in controlling oil production, and omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties that help clear acne.

11. Use Makeup Sparingly

Use Makeup Sparingly - How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne
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This is the best thing you can do to avoid teenage acne or pimples. Avoid using makeup during a breakout. And if you wear makeup, wash it off completely at the end of the day. Always choose makeup products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic.

12. Detox Your Body

Avoid processed and junk foods. This is one of the many ways through which you can reduce the amount of toxins that build up in your system. Processed foods and sugary drinks contain artificial flavors and colors, and they are low in nutritional value. Instead, increase your intake of organic foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to keep your gut healthy.

13. Eat Your Way To Acne-Free Skin

Eat Your Way To Acne-Free Skin - How To Get Rid Of Teenage Acne
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What you eat affects your skin. Fill your plate with food that helps you fight inflammation. Include complex carbohydrates such as legumes, whole grains, and unprocessed vegetables and fruits in your diet. Consume lots of orange and yellow fruits and veggies, such apricots, carrots, and sweet potatoes, fish such as salmon and other fatty fish, nuts, tomatoes, and beans.

14. Be Aware Of What You Put In Your Hair

Your hair care products can also give you breakouts. Hair gels, sprays, and pomades irritate the skin a lot as they contain high levels of alcohol. Most of the breakouts in your scalp are due to chemical build-up or allergies to the ingredients. Pomades and other chemicals clog your pores and prevent the release of oil or sebum, thus causing breakouts. Clean your scalp thoroughly and avoid using too many chemicals on your hair.

15. Avoid Stress

lShutterstockStress aggravates acne. Scientists are still studying the correlation between stress and acne flare-ups. The cells that produce sebum or oil have receptors for stress hormones. Experts suspect that stress might upregulate the oil-producing cells, which results in further breakouts and worsens the condition. So, if you have acne, don’t stress.

16. Check Your Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption triggers testosterone and estrogen levels in men and women. Testosterone triggers the production of androgen that activates the oil glands in your body (or face). Moreover, alcohol consumption increases the body’s stress levels and triggers the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. This may worsen your acne.

These were some skin care and lifestyle routine tips that you should follow. Apart from that, you can try some natural and home remedies to treat teenage acne. Take a look:

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Teenage Acne: Natural Remedies

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar - Natural Remedies For Acne
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  1. Mix all the ingredients and store in a container or spray bottle.
  2. Use a cotton pad to apply the toner to the affected area or spray it on your face.
Why It Works

Apple cider vinegar contains succinic, citric, acetic, and lactic acids that can kill the acne-causing bacteria (1), (2).
Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties that prevent breakouts and reduce acne scarring.

2. Lemon Juice

You Will Need
  1. Add the lemon juice to turmeric powder and make a paste.
  2. Apply the paste on the affected area.
  3. Leave it on to dry and then wash off.
Why It Works

Lemon juice has antibacterial properties that help in healing your condition. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. It also helps in killing the acne-causing bacteria.

[ Read: 10 Simple Lemon Face Packs For All Skin Issues ]

3. Honey Face Mask

Honey Face Mask - Natural Remedies For Acne
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • ¼ cup honey (organic)
  • ½ lemon


  1. Prep your skin by steaming (heat water in a bowl and bend your face over it for a few minutes). This will open up the pores.
  2. Squeeze half a lemon into the honey and mix well.
  3. Apply it all over the face and let it dry.
  4. Wash your face with warm water first, followed by cold water (to close the pores).

Why It Works

Lemon helps in clearing blackheads and removes the dead skin cells. Honey has antioxidant and antibacterial properties and keeps your skin moisturized.

4. Tea Tree Oil

You Will Need

  • 3- 4 drops tea tree oil
  • 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel


  1. Combine the oil with the gel and apply it to the affected area.
  2. Keep it on for 15- 20 minutes and then wash it off.
Why It Works

Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties while fresh aloe vera gel soothes your skin. This pack is suitable for all skin types.

Natural and DIY methods take time to show results. In case you want quick results, you can opt for over-the-counter medicines. However, always consult a dermatologist before using any ointment on your skin.

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Clear Teenage Acne With These Topical Treatments

1. Benzoyl Peroxide

When applied to the skin, it works like an antiseptic and prevents the growth of P. acnes. It is anti-inflammatory and acts on the bacteria via oxidation (injects oxygen in your pores) to eliminate the bacteria, oil, and dirt. It is available as cream, gel, soap, lotion, and foam.

2. Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid contains beta-hydroxy acid or BHA. It penetrates the pores of your skin and works as an exfoliant. The cells on the hair follicle linings of people with acne multiply quickly and tend to stick to each other, causing acne. Salicylic acid eliminates the substance that sticks the cells together. Also, it has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and calms redness and inflammation caused by acne.

[ Read: 10 Best Salicylic Acid Products Of 2019 ]

3. Alpha Hydroxy Acids

The dermatologist mostly uses acne treatments involving alpha hydroxy acids. The process is known as chemical peeling. Alpha hydroxy acids peel the top layer of your skin, removing all the dead skin cells and unclogging the pores. Once the old skin is gone, a new, clear skin replaces it. The most common alpha hydroxy acid used for acne treatment is glycolic acid. You can buy products containing alpha hydroxy acid of up to 10% concentration for DIY chemical peeling.

4. Sulfur

This is one of the oldest treatments for acne. It treats not only acne but also other skin issues such as warts, dandruff, and dermatitis. When you apply sulfur-containing products on the affected area, it makes the skin dry and peel off, thus unclogging the pores and getting rid of all the dead cells. It also helps in controlling the oiliness and has antimicrobial properties. You will get cleansers, soaps, face masks, and other products containing sulfur.

5. Antibiotics

If over-the-counter medications are not working for you, consult a dermatologist. He/She might prescribe antibiotics for killing bacteria and reducing acne. The doctor may suggest a combination of benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics (in case your body is resistant to benzoyl peroxide). This includes antibiotics such as Duac, Benzamycin, Benzaclin, and Acanya. The dermatologist may also suggest oral antibiotics for treating moderate to severe acne.

Do not freak out when you find those red bumps popping out on your face, neck, and shoulder areas. Self-care is the best way to cure acne. Try and follow the methods discussed here. And, of course, don’t forget to book an appointment with the dermatologist.

Have any other questions in your mind? Or any suggestions? Drop a comment right below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does eating junk food trigger acne?

Certain diets (high dairy consumption) may have some effect on acne, but otherwise, eating potato chips and junk food doesn’t cause acne. It is caused by hormonal imbalance and not due to greasy food.

Is it okay to wear makeup if I have breakouts?

Try to avoid it. But if you have to, use non-comedogenic cosmetics.

How long should I use a medicine before knowing whether it’s working or not?

At least 6-8 weeks.

Does applying toothpaste works?

Avoid it as toothpaste might further irritate the skin.

When should I visit a dermatologist?

If the DIY methods and over-the-counter treatments don’t show results within 4-12 weeks of the breakout, visit a dermatologist.

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Dr. Aanand Geria is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Geria Dermatology in Rutherford, New Jersey. With 12 years of experience, he is an expert in ethnic skin, minimally invasive cosmetic injectables, body contouring, and lasers.

Read full bio of Dr. Aanand Geria

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