Children as young as seven years old are receiving more frequent diagnoses of acne, recent research on which has prompted a group of pediatric dermatologists to establish a new set of treatment guidelines to help these young patients. The new guidelines were presented at the American Academy of Dermatology's summer meeting, and they call for aggressive and early treatment to minimize the physical and emotional scarring that can be associated with acne, especially when it comes on at an early age. More from NBC News:
Doctors believe it's likely linked to earlier onset puberty, which causes hormones called adrenal androgens to start increasing, triggering pimples to erupt sooner on these young faces.
Dr. Andrea Zaenglein, a co-author of the new treatment recommendations, estimates that she now sees around 10 or 15 new cases of pediatric acne every month.
"The principals of therapy for adolescent acne and pre-adolescent acne are exactly the same," says Zaenglein, who this week presented the information at the American Academy of Dermatology's summer meeting. "You want to treat it as aggressively as you need to, to get it under control."
Most of these younger children have mild acne – mostly a spattering of whiteheads and blackheads, called comedones, on the forehead, nose and chin. In these cases, the recommended treatment is an over-the-counter product containing benzoyl peroxide; if that doesn't work, a combination therapy involving benzoyl peroxide, an antiobiotic and/or a retinoid may be prescribed.
There's a glimmer of an upside here: In cases of kids with acne, the parents are more likely to be more heavily involved, making sure their child sticks to the treatment prescribed by their dermatologist. But Zaenglein points out that while parents of teenagers know to watch out for skin problems, it may not occur to parents of younger children that this is a problem that may require professional care.
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