If your child has acne, we can help you!
Acne is becoming more common in children ages 7 to 12, probably because puberty, first periods and adrenal activity are starting at a younger age. A family history of acne can fuel this hormonal fire.
In the past, it was assumed acne was just a normal part of growing up and young people would simply grow out of it. These days, the negative psychological impact on self-esteem and risk of permanent scarring are well-known. Many parents are driven to find answers online and motivated to seek professional help from estheticians and dermatologists.
What to look for: Pre-adolescent acne is easy to recognize and often starts with small whiteheads on the nose. Progression can be gradual, with acne spreading to the forehead and chin, the so-called T-zone, and inflamed bumps.
Pay attention. Parents, don’t ignore your child’s acne. The emotional distress and scarring it causes can impact young people for the rest of their lives. That said, over-focus and comment on your child’s acne, which will only make them more self-conscious and stressed.
Family support: Parents need to be aware and supportive as their children go through stressful periods, like starting at a new school, coping with their changing bodies, and experiencing problems like bullying, shyness, awkwardness, learning disabilities, and sexual identity.
Cleansing: Children and young teens should cleanse gently twice a day to help remove dead skin cells and excess oil. Cleanse with lukewarm water and a low-lather, sulfate-free, fragrance-free face wash and fingertips, not a rough washcloth or buffing pad. Over-washing and scrubbing too hard can dry out and irritate the skin, make inflamed acne worse, and cause topical acne products to sting when applied.
Acne home care: With parental supervision, treat acne with topical products that contain acne-fighting ingredients like a low-percentage benzoyl peroxide product to start, along with mandelic acid or salicylic acid. Wean on very gradually to help prevent side effects like redness, stinging and excessive peeling. The skin will get used to the active products. Be consistent to prevent future breakouts.
Ice reduces inflammation. Once or twice a day, rub ice cubes on red, inflamed pimples in a continuous circular motion for two minutes to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Say no to antibiotics. Try not to resort to oral antibiotics because they have unpleasant side-effects and can lead to antibiotic resistance, which is becoming a global problem.
Avoid comedogenic ingredients. Make sure skin and hair products, moisturizer, sunscreen, and make-up are all fragrance-free, oil-free and non-comedogenic. Laundry products should always be free of perfumes and dyes. Stop using fabric softener sheets, which leave a waxy residue and clog pores. Wash all new clothing and bedding before use.
Don’t pick! Step away from the mirror and resist the urge to pick. Picking pushes pimples deeper into the follicle, slows the healing process, invites secondary infection, and introduces airborne bacteria. Parents, don’t pop, pick, or attempt to extract your child’s acne.
Don’t tan. Both indoor and outdoor tanning cause cumulative sun-damage. While a tan may appear to camouflage and clear acne at first, as it fades, blemishes and scars are often darker and more pronounced. Everyone needs sunscreen all year round, even if one’s skin is naturally dark. Most acne medications cause some sun-sensitivity. Use sunscreen on a daily basis to help acne blemishes and scars fade away faster and prevent sun damage and skin cancer down the line.
Pay attention to diet. Dairy, peanuts and peanut butter, fast food, processed food, salty snacks, seaweed, soup, sports drinks, and excess sugar.
Focus on friction. Helmets and chin guards cause friction that can irritate pores and fire up more acne, so line them with a few layers of felt using Velcro. Avoid leaning or sleeping on the phone, hand or arm. Hats, caps, headbands, do-rags, scarves, backpacks, football pads, and glasses can also cause friction.
Look at hormone levels if a young girl is experiencing an irregular menstrual cycle, their acne worsens dramatically, and it fails to respond to topical treatment.
Prevention includes educating young people and their parents about acne and helping them cope with the stress of adolescence.
Be consistent. Maintain a consistent acne skin care routine and avoid oils, fragrances, and other pore-clogging ingredients. Evaluate the lifestyle issues that contribute to acne and start making smarter food choices.