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Acne: Help Teens Stop BEFORE They Pop!

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Christina Montoya Fiedler: The urge to pop a pimple -- in spite of knowing the damage it can cause -- is sometimes simply overwhelming for teens, says noted clinical psychologist and dermatologist Richard Fried, MD. But why is the urge to pop so strong?

Woman squeezing spot
Along with the passionate desire to make the pimple disappear, there is often a form of psychological release that comes with popping, Dr. Fried explains.The problem is that many teens find it difficult or impossible to stop squeezing or picking once they begin. Overzealous manipulation can damage and permanently mar the skin. In the extreme, the behavior can be a form of self-mutilation. Sometimes, having this awareness can help stop the behavior -- especially if it's habitual.

Ways to Help Your Teen Gain Control
If popping acne blemishes is an activity in which your teen indulges regularly, it may be time to consult a dermatologist. The doctor can treat your teen's entire complexion, talk to your teen about individual acne triggers (like stress, hormones, etc.) and help put your teen on a clearer path. If the acne is mild to moderate, it can often be effectively treated with a topical gel.

If all else fails, try these behavior-modification tips to help your teen stop popping:

  • Touch if you must: While keeping fingers away from pimples is probably the best choice, some teens simply "need" to touch the blemish. Applying gentle pressure, a hot compress or even a circular massage can alleviate the urge and tension.
  • Scar scare: Encourage your teen to visualize the damage that squeezing or picking produces (i.e., scarring, redness or pitting of the skin).
Getting professional help for your teen is important for two reasons, says Dr. Fried. The first is that his/her complexion will begin to look better, and fewer breakouts will result in less self-treating.Second, your teen will feel as if he or she has an ally, and a dermatologist can actually help get rid of those big blemishes that are calling out to be popped on the spot. Treating the entire complexion will also help your teen feel empowered and less inclined to pick or pop.

How do you handle your teen's breakouts?

next: Mom Finds Kidnapped Kids ... and They Hate Her
20 comments so far | Post a comment now
Matt July 17, 2010, 6:49 AM

What was the point of this article? First off, There is no psychological release that comes with popping zits. Next those “hints” are completely useless, if you want me to time my child’s bathroom usage because of a zit then you are seriously neurotic and need help.

Researcher July 17, 2010, 9:57 AM

Avoid popping a zit at all costs. If you do end up popping it, apply Neosporin, take advil, and put some ice in a plastic bag and apply it every 15 minutes for a couple hours. That’ll help it heal and reduce the chances of a scar.

In general, you don’t need to have acne. You need to figure out why you have it and fix the root causes.

For many people, it is a lack of a proper melatonin cycle. You can fix your melatonin cycle by going to sleep at the same time every night, sleeping in complete and total darkness, and getting out and about during the day so your body knows it’s daylight.

If that doesn’t work, make sure you aren’t Vitamin D deficient, take a Zinc and Vitamin B complex supplement.

If that doesn’t work, attempt to eliminate sugar, dairy, and grains from your diet.

If that doesn’t work, you still have some options. Check out to view some simplified acne research broken down into fairly reasonable steps.

Jessica July 17, 2010, 10:38 AM

Try Niapads and you will not need to do any pimple popping.

Wendi July 19, 2010, 2:30 PM

My son 13 has severe acne and I got to say I would rather him pop them then go walking around with big white things on his face. I have popped zits all my life and I am not scared from it. I think people are just way to crazy about stuff like this.

Kim Gr September 20, 2010, 10:49 PM

The combination of my face wash with my prescription topical acne cream created dry flaky patches on my face. I have struggled with this problem for almost a year but despite using a lot of different products, I haven’t been able to find relief until I found Shielo Complexion Scrub.

The Shielo Complexion Scrub is my face wash, and the Shielo Complexion Moisturizer is my daily moisturizer, which is NOT greasy. It absorbs quickly and easily into the skin without that yucky residue that is usually left behind by those creamy deep moisturizers.

Finally my acne patches are gone. I apply once in the morning and again before bed, but never have to reapply in the middle of the day unlike other less successful moisturizers I have used before.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen this in my local big box drugstores, so I have to buy online at their website shielo dot com. Highly recommended!

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Acne is a real issue with teenagers, and has always been. I haven’t found any teen that has no issue with it. I have even seen kids putting Kamagra Gel on their faces to ease the pain.

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