"Parents just don't get it." That's not the quibbling complaint of a pimply-faced kid, but the disappointed observation of Manhattan area dermatologist Bruce Katz, M.D., who for more than 18 years has helped hundreds of acne-plagued patients banish their blemishes.
What's clear to Katz's teenage patients is also critical for their parents to understand, says the doctor: Acne is no trivial cosmetic problem to be waited out until the pimples disappear on their own, but a medical condition that, left untreated, can leave youngsters with unsightly scars that lead to emotional pain and social inhibition. "Acne should be taken very seriously," Katz says. "Because of the stage of life when it's most common — during puberty — breakouts can be very depressing for young people."
Acne is by far the most common skin complaint among teenagers, affecting nearly all of those in the 12-to-17 age frame at least occasionally, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The condition, fortunately, is as treatable as it is common. "Dermatologists love to take care of acne," says Marianne O'Donaghue, a Chicago dermatologist and vice president of the American Academy of Dermatology, "because we do it well and can get people back into the community with their self-esteem restored."