by Jennifer Appendrodt
Feeling helpless? Here are some parental tips for helping and supporting your child in their struggle with acne and how to deal with pimples.
1. “It’s Not Your Fault”
Teen acne is triggered by hormonal changes, bacteria and natural oils in the body during puberty. It’s not due to bad hygiene or eating too much junk food. It’s important to stress and remind your child that their acne is not a result of something they did. “Acne rarely is the result of poor hygiene, poor diet or poor skin care,” says dermatologist Robert Fried MD, PhD. There are many misconceptions about acne—especially among teenagers—and parents should research acne’s causes and treatments, so they’re well informed and not contributing to the spreading of false information. “Parents and physicians often blame the young person for hygiene or other poor behavior,” says Dr. Fried. “But it usually stems from a hereditary tendency for the follicular unit to over-respond.”
2. Take Action
It can often make a child feel better simply knowing that they’re taking concrete steps to fight their acne. You should make a game plan for how to deal with acne, listing the necessary steps to get their acne under control. “Parents should help children and teens find a skincare regimen that works for them and their schedule,” says pediatrician Brenda Ritson, MD. “Finding products that are easy to use consistently is key.” If acne is mild with blackheads and white heads, it can be treated with benzyl peroxide, glycolic acid or salicylic acid products. They should enlist professional help for more serious acne. “When outbreaks persist beyond two to three months or there is obvious scarring, the child should received professional help as soon as possible to minimize long-term damage,” says Dr. Fried.
3. “You’re Not Alone”
It’s estimated that 85 percent of teens in the U.S. have acne. Make sure your child understand that acne is not unusual and that most teens outgrow it. “Statements like ‘this is a right of passage for your hair follicles,’ or “this is a necessary part of growing up’ can be helpful,” says Dr. Fried.
4. “I Understand”
It’s important to sympathize with your child and not belittle their struggle. Take their feelings seriously. “Use empathic statements such as ‘I know this is difficult to go to school with imperfect or bumpy skin,” says Dr. Fried. “It’s important to stress the normalcy of mild acne, but it’s equally significant to recognize how psychosocially distressing dealing with acne can be.” Peer acceptance, often tied to physical appearance, is very important to teens, and learning how to navigate the social waters with pimples on their face is tough. “It is very important to be understanding,” says Dr. Ritson. “While a few pimples might seem insignificant to you, for a preteen or teenager, acne can really affect their self-esteem and how they view themselves.”
5. Stay Positive.
Acne can do a number on a teen’s self esteem. When your child or teen is taking care of his or her skin and it shows, encourage them to keep going. “One of the reasons patients report their regimen is not working is that they often give up if it doesn’t work overnight or if there is a flare or break-out,” says Dr. Ritson. She stresses the importance of reminding children that they may not see a change immediately, but acne will get better over time. “It’s important to stick to a regimen to get results.”