In this stduy, researchers observed taht untreated acne can cause low self-esteem and anxiety as well as permanent facial scars. Ignoring it or assuming kids will outgrow it can harm them physically and emotionally. Acne can also continue into the adult years, and be especially problematic for women. Mild cases with just a few blemishes or blackheads may respond in a month or two to over-the-counter drugstore products with ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.

Salicylic acid is designed to unblock pores and encourage cell turnover. But deep pimples and inflamed pustules need the strength of prescription products and the know-how of a dermatologist. Most prescriptions are topical. That means they're applied to the skin, typically to kill bacteria and reduce oil. Often in gel form, they may contain a retinoid, prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, or antibiotics.

There are many useful combinations that your dermatologist can recommend. If one doesn't work, another might. Severe acne, with cysts and nodules, often needs medication in pill form, from antibiotics to the most powerful vitamin A drug called isotretinoin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one 4- or 5-month course of isotretinoin brings about clear skin in 85% of patients.

However, it can have serious side effects, primarily congenital disabilities, so it's essential that people taking it don't become pregnant while on it. There are also many office procedures that may help, such as lasers and other light therapies; chemical peels; and extractions, which remove stubborn cysts and help prevent scarring. Some kids can deal with skin eruptions. Both he and Eichenfield said it's important to dispel kids' acne myths.

It's best to wash your face gently twice a day, with a soap-free pH-balanced cleanser, the AAP said. Facial toners, which commonly come in pre-packaged acne regimens can help clear away oil. But the group suggested going easy on toners since they can irritate the skin. "The medical community has swung back and forth on that over the years," Pariser said.

Years ago, people thought that certain foods, like chocolate, sugar, and iodine, promoted breakouts, but studies starting in the late 1960s failed to confirm that. Some researchers have been revisiting the issue. There is some evidence that a sugary diet may promote acne. The bottom line, he said, is that many treatment options are available. There is no reason that children have to live with acne that is severe and troubling to them.