Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 1.50.54 PMIn a 60-minute scripted television segment I counted twelve commercials selling acne products that claimed to all but miraculously deliver to consumers a brand new face in just 7-10 business days all for no more than $30, excluding shipping and handling.  What none of these commercials highlighted were children.

Despite the reported rise in children–even in children as young as elementary school age—suffering from what has been dubbed pediatric acne, the skin care industry has barely skimmed the surface to address this growing issue.  And by address, I mean researching and determining the causes of why pre-adolescent children are running face and hormones first into puberty, and its more tragic subsidiary, acne.

According to the Journal of Pediatrics, it has become commonplace for children ages 7 to 12 to seek out acne treatment.  If that isn’t alarming enough, the acne drugs prescribed to these children have never undergone clinical trials where the subjects were younger than 12.

So in visiting my Dermatologist earlier this year —- more for the purpose of catching up on the latest issue of National Geographic and Food & Wine magazine, than for yet another acne prescription  — I expressed to the doctor my fear that my daughter would one day inherent my acne-prone skin.

I understand that many doctors aren’t primarily known for their amazing bedside manner or for being supremely empathetic. However, I wasn’t expecting for the dermatologist to be so insensitive as to dismissively tell me to just put my now 4-year-old daughter on Accutane if in a few years her skin fate will unfortunately mirror mine.  She said it as though she was prescribing Vaseline for chapped lips. I was shocked by her admittance that if in a few years my daughter experiences pustules and comedones before she ever enters the world of menstrual cycles and maxi pads, she would not be alone.  The ease in which the dermatologist spoke of prescribing the drug Accutane to one of her current pre-teen patients gave credence to my grandmother’s assertion that “these kids nowadays aren’t like we used to be,” and there has definitely been a shift in the onset age of acne.

Accutane is a powerful drug reserved for patients with the most severe form of acne and scarring that fails to respond to other acne treatments.  Like many medications, the adverse effects of Accutane are extremely dangerous.  So dangerous, in fact, that its users must commit to a special program that obligates them to monthly blood tests, two forms of birth control, and a monthly review and acknowledgement of the dangers of the medication.

To think that a 12-year-old is experiencing such severe acne and facing even more severe side effects from the acne treatment, it makes one wonder about the cause of the shift.  Is it the food?  After all, KFC was mandated to change its name because it wasn’t “chicken” that was being fried at Kentucky Fried Chicken.  Is it the depleting ozone layer?  Or is the real culprit more along the lines of what some experts describe as 21st century parents being less tolerant of acne and doctors more willing to prescribe more aggressive treatment to younger children?  Dr. Anne Lucky, a pediatric dermatologist and consultant for the pharmaceutical company Galderma, said, “Twenty years ago, a pediatrician would say, ‘Ah, you’ll outgrow it,’ and now we think, ‘Why wait to outgrow it when we can address it earlier?’”  I’m inclined to believe that the cause may be all of the above, plus our penchant for new and improved methods of bullying and our growing infatuation with a “flawless, I woke up like this” appearance that has driven people to succumb to dangerous—sometimes, deadly—facial and body modifications.

Although the cosmetic industry has failed to cast any prepubescent actors in their commercials, the American Academy of Pediatrics is attempting to address the rise in acne among children ages 7 to 12 by recently publishing treatment guidelines.  The treatment guidelines suggest that other-the-counter acne treatments may need to be added to the school supply list for elementary students.

Now if only we could determine and address the cause.

Tags: , ,
Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • MySister’sKeeper

    I got a prescription for accutane in college. It worked miracles for me when I thought nothing else would. But I knew it was time to stop taking it when I found myself walking across campus sobbing like a total lunatic because I was upset I got a B on a paper (a paper which I weeks before prayed would earn a B). It is known to cause some serious depression and has been linked to several suicides. It was tough to regulate the emotional and physical toll of this prescription as an adult. No way it should be prescribed to a child.

  • Me

    can we stop with the kfc urban legend. it ain’t true & it makes us look ridiculous repeating that mess. (case in point, the government wouldn’t just let a food company sell mutant chicken for consumption as long as they “change the name”… the fda exists for a reason)

    • ALM

      You completely trust the FDA?

    • Me

      kfc wouldn’t be the lone company allowed to sell mutant chicken as long as they don’t put chicken in their name. if that was the case, lots of other companies would get into the mutant game. & why would the fda trade mutant chickens for a simple name change when they have the power to come down hard with multiple fines & shutting stores down? that whole logic of them losing the right to call themselves a chicken restaurant makes no sense.

  • ALM

    Accutane has some awful side effects. It’s barely worth it for adults, and it’s definitely not for children.

    It’s interesting that you mention food. My mom mentioned an article to me a day or two ago saying to avoid french fries to reduce acne break outs. Research has determined interestingly that it’s not the fried coating or batter, but it’s actually the white potato itself that creates an inflammatory response in the body.

    A lot of acne also appears to be tied to imbalanced hormones. I see so many young children (both boys and girls) who aren’t just regularly chubby, but appear to be irregularly puffed up like a balloon.

    We are going to have to start monitoring the food that we feed our children and the products (lotions, baby wipes, etc.) we use for our children.

    When I was little, kids who were chubby had no more than 10 lbs to lose. Now these kids appear to be 30 or 40 lbs overweight.

    Some of this is fluid retention, and there is no reason for a child to be retaining that much fluid.

    Some of the weight is related to food intolerance. Intolerances also create inflammation in the body. We all need to get back to planting our own gardens, etc. and limiting the amount of processed foods we consume.

    • I completely agree monitoring what goes on our skin and in the body!! Years ago when I stopped relaxing my hair, I thought about all the chemicals I was putting on my skin each time I bathed or moisturized my skin. Now I use either pure (organic) coconut oil or shea butter.

      As far as the overweight children being an epidemic, I see it too! Children are a lot larger then when I grew up in the 90s. I can’t believe it’s just due to parents feeding their children unhealthy foods. My BFF’s oldest daughter is 6 years old and overweight. Yesterday she shared with me that she took her daughter to the dr. recently and was informed that her daughter gained a lot of weight since her last visit this year, which is abnormal. She now has to have her child tested, probably for those intolerances you mentioned. I do know that kids are less physically active in recent times.

      (I’ve tried to post this comment enough times to be fed up with even trying to comment in the future!!!)

  • OSHH

    Apple cider vinegar with mother and preferably organic. Much safer and natural acne treatment two tablespoons in 16 oz of water and great as toner at night. I too was on accutane for about a year would never do it again. Too many dangerous and worrisome side effects.