In years past, 12 was considered the lower end of the age range for the start of blackheads and whiteheads. With earlier onset of adrenarche (when the adrenal gland awakens) and menarche (first period), the authors of the guidelines suggest, "there appears to be a downward shift in the age at which acne first appears."
"I've definitely seen a shift," said Dr. Latanya T. Benjamin, a dermatologist at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, who did not help draft the guidelines. "It's not uncommon for a 7- or 9-year-old to walk in with the first signs of acne."
But whether children are experiencing early, or precocious, puberty has been the subject of scientific debate. A more likely cause of the increase in cases, some experts say, is that parents are less tolerant of acne and doctors more willing to provide powerful acne treatments to children.
Image: Girl covering her face, via Shutterstock