What Really Works on Acne?

Reporter: Shannon Samson

The misery of acne is something 14-year-old Karsten bench knows all too well.He was once plagued by pimples. "It used to come up around on my forehead, but now it's just mostly down here."

The enemies? Stress, bacteria and hormones.

Dermatologist Dr. Heidi Mangelsdorf says, "The treatment of their acne really does depend on the severity and also on their skin type."

Today's arsenal of acne-fighting weapons include some high-tech options. Like the Clearlight. This visible spectrum blue light therapy is used for mild to moderate acne.

Dr. Dale Isaacson says, "It works by killing the bacteria that produce acne." Eight to 12 treatments can stop zits for up to six months. The more serious cases will need a cream like Retin-A -- which dries out oil glands.

Teens with even tougher acne may need antibiotics to kill the bacteria from the inside out.   In the most severe cases, stronger medication is needed. Pediatric dermatologist Dr. Dean Morrell says, "Isotretinoin, which of all the medications, is the most powerful medicine."

Also called Accutane -- this medication works for many, but may cause liver damage, depression and birth defects.

These weapons can help teens win the war on acne and get back in the game... Bench says, "when it started to go away some, it just made me feel a little bit better."

If you're looking for over-the-counter treatments, buy products with Benzoyl Peroxide, which kills bacteria, or salicylic acid which gets rid of dead skin cells that would clog pores. That's what the highly advertised product Proactiv has in it. Products like Neutrogena's acne line have those ingredients, for about half the cost.