A step-by-step plan for teenagers with acne

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Dr. Jetske Ultee

Research Physician in Cosmetic Dermatology
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For years now I have been delving into cosmetics. I believe in the importance of good skincare but, at the same time, I am shocked by the sense and nonsense within the cosmetics world. You can share in my knowledge about skincare via this blog.
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Acne is occurring at an increasingly younger age. Research has found that an increasing number of children between the ages of 8 and 12 are suffering from spots. So, it is not surprising that a question relating to this came up on the childrens programme Zapp. Because: how do spots actually appear at this young age? What can you, yourself, do and when should you go to the Doctor? For all readers who, like myself, have young teenagers at home, here is a step-by-step plan for when the first impurities appear on the skin.

When the skin still hasn't yet healed

If you have stitches in your skin or are being treated by a Doctor for your wound then you need to follow his/her instructions. In other instances it is worthwhile following the advice below.

How it starts

Dead skin cells

1. Dead Skin cells

Increased sebum production

2. Increased sebum production

P. acnes bacteria

3. P. acnes bacteria

First of all the basis: how do impurities occur on the skin? When dead skin cells (1) and sebum (2) build up in the pores, they can become blocked. The skin bacteria P. acnes (3) can, as a result, cause inflammation within the blocked pore. Hormone changes and a genetic predisposition play an influential role, particularly in the increased sebum production. But, additionally, external factors can cause spots. In this instance we are talking about the use of unsuitable cosmetics, certain (sugar rich) food, poor hygiene (cleaning), sun, smoking and stress.

Acne, at a teenagers’ age, is mainly a case of blackheads, which in medical terms are known as comedones. These spots occur because the pores in the skin are blocked. You won’t yet see proper skin infections at this age, as sebum production is not high.

What can you advise your teenagers to do?

Step 1: Cleanse with mild products

Skin with acne, whether it is just blackheads or with spots as well, requires mild attention. Many spot treatment products available from the pharmacy are, however, aggressive and actually exacerbate the acne. A good example of these are cleansing scrubs: do not start using these!

So, teenagers, what should you do?
Start by getting into the habit of cleansing your face when you brush your teeth in the evenings. My product advice for this is the Dr. Jetske Ultee Cleanser which I have developed. In most cases, the Cleanser for normal to dry skin is best suited to young skin types as there generally isn’t yet a problem with an over production of sebum. Does your son or daughter’s face become increasingly shiny throughout the day? (he or she will probably be around the age of 16), in which case the Cleanser for normal to oily skin is more suitable.

In the morning cleansing with just warm water is sufficient.


For the girls who like to wear make-up: La Roche-Posay – Tolereine teint fluide is a fine foundation which doesn’t contain ingredients which will block your skin. It is important that all make-up is removed with an oil based product before cleansing. For example with jojoba oil (available at De Tuinen). Afterwards you can use the cleanser.

Step 2: Soothe and treat

There are actually two things you can try at home to counteract the start of acne. The first will sound strange to your ears, and that is exfoliating. An Exfoliant is a product with an acid base, which can remove dead skin cells. Or: to clean the blocked pores and stop inflammation. There are scrubs available for this, but as I said earlier, I strongly advise against these. These products scrape, as it were, a layer of the skin off and in so doing affect its protective function. An Exfoliant works, as it were, from the inside out. The acids work by loosening the dead skin cells. For a skin with acne choose an Exfoliant with Salicylic Acid.

Exfoliating needs to be increased gradually. It is advisable to do this every other day in the evening after cleansing. Apply the Exfoliant onto cleansed skin, you do not need to rinse it off. I have developed an Exfoliant with 1% Salicylic Acid which contains extra soothing ingredients. A very thin layer is enough to work.
You may think that it appears to be getting worse to begin with, that all of a sudden there seem to be more blocked pores. This is because the cells immediately start to flake off more rapidly than normal: all the blockages suddenly arise at the same time.

Salicylic Acid should not be used if there is a question of allergy to aspirin. This is due to the chemical structure of Salicylic Acid being similar to aspirin.

Benzoyl Peroxide
If no improvement is seen after 6-8 weeks you can try using benzoyl peroxide. This ingredient halts the growth of the acne bacteria and helps stop the skin cells from blocking up the pores. Choose the product containing 2.5% (like Benzoyl Peroxide at You can apply this product on the days that you don’t apply the Salicylic Acid. A thin layer is also sufficient here. And apply it, not only onto the spots themselves but, on the whole area. Benzoyl Peroxide can dry the skin out so supplement it with a thick cream.

Itching or swelling around the eyes may be the sign of an allergic reaction to Benzoyl Peroxide, 1 in 500 people experience this. In this case you should stop using it immediately.

Step 3: Care for teenagers’ skin

In general, young skin does not require a (rich) moisturising cream. However, if you would rather apply something, or your skin feels dry from the treatment products (in step 2), then choose the Eucerin ultra-sensitive soothing cream to apply after cleansing. This is a completely neutral, simple cream, which isn’t expensive and does the job: keeps the problem skin in good condition (and above all doesn’t irritate).
There are two types available, one for dry skin and one for normal to combination skin. It is advisable to use the cream for dry skin if you have decided on a treatment cream containing Benzoyl Peroxide (see figure, step 2).

It is important to apply a sun cream (like Suncover) each morning from April to and including September.

This is how the step-by-step plan looks for the morning and evening:




Cleanse with warm water
Cleanse with a cleanser (1)



Treatment cream saliclic acid (2) and/or Benzoyl peroxide (3)

- Thin layer
- Apply every other day
- Always allow to absorb in for 10-15 minutes

Care for

Apply cream (4) and/or un cream (5)
Apply cream (4) if desired
  1. Dr. Jetske Ultee Cleanser (choice of normal to dry skin or normal to oily skin).
  2. Dr. Jetske Ultee Exfoliant 1% Salicylic Acid (normal to oily skin).
  3. Benzoyl Peroxide (available at
  4. Eucerin Ultrasensitive soothing care (choice of dry skin or normal to combination skin).
  5. Dr. Jetske Ultee Suncover SPF 30.

Going to the Doctor

Many teenagers suffering with acne find it difficult to go to their Doctor. In many cases you will be advised on using the products that I have mentioned above in combination with medication which a Doctor is able to prescribe for you. This is why a good working rapport between skin therapist and Doctor is also very important.

Regards Jetske

(Dr. Jetske Ultee-Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)