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When Your Young Child Has Acne

Published in For the Health of It, Dermatology, Patient Story Author: Leah Schammel,DO

Abby was only 9 years old when she first started having issues with acne. Her mom, Liz, noticed the breakouts and bought some over-the-counter topical treatments for Abby to try, but they didn't seem to work. That's when they contacted Abby's pediatrician and were referred to Dr. Leah Schammel in Dermatology.

"Pediatric acne is becoming more and more common," said Dr. Schammel. "We continue to see kids younger and younger with significant acne," she said. "The key is to treat it early and keep it under control."

The emotional impact of acne is difficult at any age, but it can be especially difficult when you're the only kid in your elementary class dealing with this. "You don't have to ‘just live with it'," Dr. Schammel said. "There are definitely treatment options."

But, there are also special considerations. Because Abby was so young, Dr. Schammel had to be careful with certain medications that she might typically prescribe for a teenager or adult.

She consulted with other dermatologists and reviewed a variety of medications for risks and benefits. She also consulted with dentists, an OB/GYN, and Abby's primary doctor to ensure any treatment she prescribed wouldn't be harmful because of her young age.

"Abby didn't even have all her adult teeth yet," Dr. Schammel explained. "Certain acne medications can stain teeth, so those weren't an option for Abby.

Abby tried a variety of treatment options, including topicals, washes, antibiotics, and light therapy. They continued this treatment plan for about a year and a half until one day, Abby (now 11) came home from school and told her mom she'd been getting teased because of her acne.

"When Abby's Mom called me and shared that she was being teased, I knew it was time to start getting more aggressive with the treatment plan," Dr. Schammel said.

Dermatologist, Dr. Leah Schammel, with young patient, Abby.

Dr. Schammel came up with a new treatment plan, and within a month, Abby noticed it was working. They kept up with the treatment plan for six months, then took a break. Abby returns every three months so Dr. Schammel can evaluate her situation and watch for any changing conditions.

Today, Abby is happy and confident, with a clear, bright complexion.

"When we first reached out to our pediatrician, Abby's acne was just beginning," Liz said. "I was concerned about how it was affecting her, and the possibility of permanent scarring if we did nothing. I'm so happy we did something about it early."

Dr. Schammel is also happy for her young patient. She remembers being at Target one day when she ran in to Abby and her mom. Abby asked her, "Will my face always look this good?" Dr. Schammel had a simple answer for her. "Yes."

"Acne is one of my favorite things to treat," said Dr. Schammel. "The end result of a successful treatment is renewed confidence, which in turn, can lead to a happy, healthy, engaged child in all areas of their life."

As Abby gets older, they will continue to monitor her acne. "I feel comfortable that Dr. Schammel is watching out for Abby," said Liz. "She is invested in her care and wants to be certain that we're doing the best thing for her."