Acne in teens

Teenagers and young adults are the age group most commonly affected by acne. Around one in eight (80%) of 11 to 30-year-olds have acne at some point.
In girls, acne is commonest between the ages of 14 to 17.

Boys most commonly have acne over the ages of 16 to 19 years.

Most teenagers have repeated episodes, or flare-ups, of acne for several years before finding that their symptoms gradually start to improve as they get older. The symptoms of acne usually disappear when a person is in their twenties.

Why is acne common in teenagers?

Teenagers are particularly prone to acne because levels of hormones (known as androgens) increase at puberty. These hormones cause an increase in the size of the sebaceous glands and the amount of oil they produce.

In younger women about 25% get acne around the time of their period

What is the impact?

Up to one in three teenagers (30%) have acne severe enough to require medical treatment.

How can acne make teenagers feel?

Acne can have profound social and psychological effects.

It affects teenagers just at the time that acceptance by people of their own age is particularly important.

Physical appearance and attractiveness are closely linked to acceptance in teenagers, so anything that affects how you look can be particularly difficult to cope with during the teenage years.

At a time when teenagers are learning to form relationships, those with acne may lack the self-confidence to go out and make these bonds.

Acne on the chest and back can put teenagers off taking part in sports because of the need to change in public changing rooms.


Acne can often cause intense feelings of anxiety and stress, which can sometimes make people become socially withdrawn. This combination of factors can lead to depression.

You may be depressed if during the last month:

  • you have often felt down, depressed, or hopeless and
  • you have little interest, or pleasure, in doing things.

If you think that you may have depression, it is important that you speak to your GP.

The charity provides a website and helpline for teenagers and young people with emotional and other difficulties, which you may find useful.

Your Perception vs. My Reality

  • Two in five teens don’t like seeing a picture of themselves with acne on social networking sites, whilst only 13% of parents perceive this to be the case
  • Over one in two parents don’t talk to their teens about their acne because they think it’s normal and they will “grow out of it”
  • The reality is 89% of teenagers would stay off facebook or not go on a date for a year if they could get rid of their acne for good
  • In contrast to teens, parents believe the most difficult aspect of puberty is your body changing
  • Over half of all teens would prefer to change their appearance, whilst their parents would prefer success academically and more involvement in hobbies
  • Girls (60%) feel this more strongly about than boys (40%)