Puberty brings about physical, psychological and social changes in an individual. These changes mark the transition of an individual from childhood to early adolescence. As your child begins to develop a sense of identity, he may now pay more attention to his appearance. And what better time for your child to be conscious, when the onset of puberty may also trigger many physiological changes.

Acne is one of the most common skin disorders of teens. The lesions are commonly found on the face, neck, back, upper arms, and chest. The peak age for the lesions to occur in girls is between the ages of 14 and 17, while it is between the ages of 16 and 19 for boys.

The cause of acne is not really clear. Improper hygiene, unhealthy diet and stress can make acne worse, but these clearly do not cause it. The three factors that contribute to the formation of acne are:

1. Overproduction of oil or sebum – Hormonal changes due to puberty can trigger the body to produce more sebum.

2. Irregular shedding of dead skin cells – This irregularity can lead to irritation of the skin’s hair follicles.

3. Bacteria – Bacterial growth can occur in clogged hair follicles, which results in the formation of non-inflammatory acne. If the follicle wall breaks, sebum can leak to nearby tissues thereby forming inflammatory acne.

Acne may be an unwelcome part of puberty, but there are ways on how you can help your child deal with it. Here are some general guidelines:

Promote healthy eating at home. Eating a well-balanced diet will always be good
to one’s health in general. Let your teen know that food has little effect on the
formation of acne.

Do not allow your child to squeeze acne lesions. This can only spread the sebum to nearby skin, which in turn may only increase symptoms.

Encourage your teen to wash acne prone areas at least twice a day. This can help get rid of irritating fatty acids. However, make sure that your child understands that overdoing it, may also do more harm than good. Frequent washing may rupture the glands, which can only affect healing.

Greasy hair products, cosmetics or even tight sweatbands can plug ducts and cause acne formation. Help your child choose the right products, and make sure that you teach your child how to properly use these. If possible, have your teen avoid these products if he is really sensitive.

Make sure that you supervise any acne medication that your teen uses. If your teen is using any topical over the counter medication, be certain that he understands necessary precautions, and that he follows the treatment regimen. Otherwise, desired effects will not be attained.

When necessary, take your teen to the doctor. It is still best to talk to a doctor before starting any therapy. There are medications for acne that needs to be taken conscientiously. Some acne medications can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Thus, you need to make sure that you know all these precautions, so that you can reinforce it on your teen.

There are indeed many changes expected during the adolescent period. While changes like acne may affect one’s self-esteem, there are many ways that can be done to prevent or treat it. Reassure your child that although acne may not be pleasant to look at, it remains to be part of the normal development of each individual.