Skip to main content

Growth and Development

How Long Does Acne Last?


My son is 15, and he started breaking out when he was 12. He wants to know when this is going to end. What do I tell him?
- Cyndee

No one knows exactly how long acne will last for each person. Many people find that their acne improves as they become older and that it has almost disappeared by the time they enter their twenties. Others have acne well into their adult years.

The good news is that acne can be treated — and breakouts can sometimes be prevented. Prevention involves taking good care of the skin. Your son should wash his face twice a day (and after building up a sweat) with a mild soap and lukewarm water. Make sure he washes it gently; teens sometimes scrub too hard in an attempt to get rid of acne. This can irritate the skin and actually make acne worse.

Sunscreen, moisturizers, and makeup should be labeled "oil free," "noncomedogenic," or "nonacnegenic." Hair and hair styling products should be kept away from the face, and hair should be shampooed daily.

Your son should try not to touch his face and should avoid wearing tight-fitting hats or clothing over the acne-affected area. If good hygiene isn't helping with breakouts, your son can try an over-the-counter acne cream or gel. Be sure he follows the directions carefully and does not use it more than is recommended.

If his acne still doesn't improve, he may need some extra help from the family doctor or a dermatologist. A doctor can recommend the best treatment for him and also give lots of useful tips on dealing with acne.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: April 2012

Have a question? Email us.

Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.


Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)


Miracle Makers 2014 3:07:00Expand

The 30th annual Miracle Makers fundraising special aired on KOMO 4 TV on June 6, 2014. The special takes us on a journey through the hopes, fears, victories and challenges facing patients at Seattle Children's. Cosponsored by Costco Wholesale and KOMO 4. 

Play Video
Overcoming the Odds: A KING 5 TV Children's HealthLink Special 0:44:45Expand

In the spirit of the holidays, patients, parents and doctors share inspirational stories of healing and hope. From surviving heart failure and a near-death drowning to battling a flesh-eating disease, witness how the impossible became possible thanks to the care patients received at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Play Video
Miracle Season 2013 0:57:06Expand

Miracle Season, hosted by Steve Pool and Molly Shen, aired Dec. 8, 2013, on KOMO 4 TV. The annual holiday special celebrates the remarkable lives of Seattle Children's patients.

Play Video