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Being a teenager is one of the most self-conscious times in a person’s life. Of course, no one wants to get acne, but for teens, it’s especially difficult to manage the pressures of adolescence, high school and maintaining a positive self-esteem while dealing with blackheads, whiteheads or pimples. Even though approximately 85% of adolescents experience teenage acne, having acne during these vulnerable years can make teens feel embarrassed and alone.
Even if you know the pain of acne first hand, as a parent, you may be struggling with how to help your child deal with pimples and how to find the best acne treatment for teens. Talking to your teen and encouraging him or her to express their feelings is a good first step. Reminding them that acne is common in teenagers and sharing your personal struggles with acne might help them feel less awkward, as well as boost their confidence and self-esteem.
Puberty in girls starts, on average, at age 10 but can begin anywhere between 8 and 13 years old. For boys, puberty typically starts between 9 and 14 years of age. Puberty triggers the production of androgens (male hormones including testosterone and DHT) that are found in both boys and girls. This hormone signals the glands to enlarge and produce more oil, one of the main causes of acne. When the excess oil mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria, it clogs the pores and leads to oily skin and teen acne.
Teenage acne often starts with a few blackheads and little pimples around the nose, later spreading to the cheeks and forehead. Boys generally have more severe teen acne than girls because they produce more androgens and athletes are more inclined to have body acne. Girls may experience increased breakouts around the time that they menstruate.
Hormones and genetics are two contributing causes of teenage acne, and they’re two forces that are out of our control. But there are some actions teens can take to control and minimize acne breakouts.
Teenage girls should avoid cosmetics, moisturizers and other skincare products with a greasy consistency because they can clog pores. Only use oil-free or non-comedogenic products, as those will help limit clogged pores. While acne flare-ups during menstrual cycles might be unavoidable, worrying about it will only make matters worse so look for ways to release stress through exercise, deep breathing or meditation.
Athletic teens should always shower after workouts or playing sports because sweat that stays on skin may clog pores. All teens should be aware of friction caused by pressure from backpacks and tight clothing, or even constant touching of the skin as these can trigger breakouts. And while it might be tempting to squeeze blemishes, that should be avoided at all costs as it can spread bacteria and increase inflammation. Also, some teens may be tempted to combat oily skin by excessive cleansing or harsh scrubbing but that can irritate and dry skin, which will only make your skin produce more oil.