Pre-Teen Acne

The pre-teen period marks the transition from child to teenager. Acne in the pre-teen years would once have been considered distinctly unusual and a cause for concern. However, the reduction over the past 50 years in the average age at which puberty occurs means that pre-teen acne is becoming increasingly common.

Definition of Pre-Teen Acne

Pre-teen acne is acne which develops in young people between the ages of eight and twelve. Including a pre-teen group in the age distribution system of classifying acne helps preserve Most of the 16 and 17 years olds who fought in the First World War were prepubescent the relationship between the acne age classification and the clinical types of acne. The pre-teen acne class is really an extension of the teenage acne class into a younger age group, necessary because of the significant drop in the average age of the onset of puberty over the last two or three generations. It is salutary to consider that the majority of the sixteen and seventeen years olds who fought in the First World War were prepubescent, whereas some ninety years later doctors would be considering medical causes for delayed puberty in a prepubescent sixteen year old. As the average age of the onset of puberty has dropped, so have the lower and upper age limits for what is considered normal puberty. This is significant in relation to acne because adolescent acne, by far the commonest clinical type of acne, is directly associated with the hormonal changes of puberty. As the normal age range for puberty drops, so does the age range with which adolescent acne is most strongly associated. Half a century ago, adolescent acne was a condition associated almost exclusively with the teenage years, whereas it now encompasses both pre-teens and teenagers.

Causes of Pre-Teen Acne

Pre-teen acne is most commonly of the adolescent clinical type and occurs in young people who enter puberty at a relatively early age. Indeed, the appearance of a smattering of acne papules (pimples) on the chin of an eight or nine year old is often the first sign of the normal onset of puberty. Other clinical types of acne may cause acne in the pre-teen age group, but this situation is rare and usually fairly apparent either from the unusual distribution of spots on the body or from a history of using prescribed medication capable of inducing acne.

Significance of Acne in Pre-Teens

The incidence of acne in the preteen age group is increasing as the average age of onset of puberty falls.

Pre-teen acne is usually the sign of a child who is experiencing early, but normal, puberty and is not in itself a cause for concern. Towards the lower end of the eight to twelve age range, one starts to have more concerns as to whether the development of adolescent acne is associated with abnormally early puberty, also known as precocious puberty, which may have a serious underlying medical cause. It is advisable in such cases to consult a doctor, since clinical judgment is needed to decide whether investigating possible medical causes of precocious puberty is warranted.

Consulting a doctor is usually preferable to a parent getting involved in discussions about the issue, since the early onset of puberty can itself be a cause of great anxiety to an eight or nine year old.