Teen acne is stressful and emotional. In fact, according to a study between 30 percent – 50 percent of adolescents experience psychological difficulties associated with their acne.
This anxiety leaves parents with a dilemma. On one hand many teens don’t want to talk about their acne. On the other hand, it’s super-important to convey that a son or daughter isn’t alone.
“The effects of acne on the emotional side are probably underestimated and underplayed. Acne has an enormous effect on socialization and ultimately on performance in all areas of life,” Dr. Neal Schultz, a dermatologist in New York City, told Acne.com. “Things like eye contact aren’t established because [acne sufferers] don’t want to be seen by other people. School work can suffers. Teens don’t want to go to the prom or out with friends or even to school sometimes. They don’t have the energy because it’s being zapped by the anxiety and depression acne causes.”
So how can a parent help? The most important thing, according to Dr. Schultz, is that a parent explains to a son or daughter that the feelings of anxiety are normal. “What I would recommend to start a conversation is, ‘Put your breakouts in the last six months on a scale of 1 to 10, where would you say you are today,’” said Dr. Schultz. “If it’s anything above of a 5 you have to connect with them − not necessarily discuss the acne, but ask how they feel about it.”
For example, ask how extra-curricular activities are going, what’s new with his or her friends and if there is any big school project coming up. This helps to get a sense of the impact the acne is having in their lives without focusing too much on the acne. “Shortly after that explain that your only interest is to help them,” added Dr. Schultz.
It’s best not to come across as critical or tell them what they’re doing wrong. Instead, leave the course of treatment up to the doctor and just create a safe place to open up so they don’t have to keep their emotions inside. “Give them hope and confidence,” said Dr. Schultz. “Let them know that you are part of the solution, not the problem.”